Eagles take liberty with defense

December 29, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

WILLIAMSPORT - The Hedgesville girls basketball team "pressed" the issue Friday at the Richard E. Doub Ladies Classic and claimed the tournament championship with a 57-49 victory over host Williamsport.

In the consolation game, Mountain Ridge downed Broadfording Christian Academy, 60-34.

The title game was highly contested but Williamsport was bothered by the Hedgesville full-court pressure in the second half.

The Eagles turned up the heat in the final minute of the third quarter to turn a 33-32 deficit into a 38-33 lead.

Morgan Smith hit a 3-point basket with 53 seconds remaining in the quarter to give the Wildcats the one-point edge. Hedgesville turned the tables with baskets by tournament Most Valuable Player Brittany Kolb, Tessa Deneen and Cierra Nicholson to pick up the five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

"That was the game," said a disappointed Williamsport coach Chris Malott. "We played so hard for 31 minutes and then turned the ball over there late the third quarter. I really thought we played well, overall. It was two good teams going at it."


Hedgesville's three-basket flurry was a product of the pressure and Williamsport turnovers.

"It was a strong team effort, but the two steals by Shirley off the press and follow-up baskets in the third quarter were huge," said Hedgesville coach Ben Merica.

"We started to press a little bit more in the third quarter because we needed to get some energy," Merica said. "We were standing around too much and our zone defenses were not as aggressive as I would like."

Merica also had other areas of concern.

"How are they only 2-6? ... They must be playing a tough early-season schedule," Merica said. "They look good to me, especially Smith. We were aware of her in our zone defenses and some man-to-man coverage but we were usually a step too late. She can shoot the basketball."

Smith, an all-tournament selection, collected 13 of her 23 points in the first half to help Williamsport enjoy a 23-17 lead before Hedgesville turned things around.

"We're having trouble shooting the basketball," Merica said. "We do plenty of shooting drills in practice but we're not hitting from the outside. Add to that, we missed a number of inside shots. We have to do better."

Meanwhile, Malott appreciated the morale victory for the Wildcats.

"We stepped up our game against a quality opponent but we just had the tough stretch and it cost us," Malott said. "We'll learn and a game like this can only help the program."

ยท Mountain Ridge showed a balanced attack - 10 players hit the scoring column - and coasted to victory in the consolation game.

Holly Williams led the way with 11 points to be named to the all-tournament team along with Williamsport's Kelly Beard and Smith and Hedgesville's Nicholson and Boarman.

Mountain Ridge raced to an 18-7 advantage in the first quarter and was never threatened.

"We played a lot better than we did yesterday (in an opening-round loss to Williamsport)," said Broadfording coach Harry Barnett. "We faced two tough opponents in the tournament and missing two starters didn't help. Overall, though, it was a good experience and should help us when we return to conference play."

Senior Emily Stransky led the Lions with 16 points.

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