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Leopards' foul shooting spots Gaels needed edge

December 29, 2007|By JACK HILL III

SMITHSBURG - The free throw line turned out to be The Bermuda Triangle for the Smithsburg girls basketball team.

The Leopards hit only 6-of-18 free throws, which more than made the 5-for-10 effort by St. Maria Goretti look stellar. The points Smithsburg left at the line Friday proved to be the difference as the Gaels squeezed out a 36-31 victory to win their second straight Pap Draper Classic.

"Free throw shooting has hurt us all year," Smithsburg coach Ed Hargreaves said. "We have got to do better than that."

Sarah Spierenburg, a 6-foot-1 center, had seven blocked shots for the second straight night for St. Maria Goretti (7-3). Spierenburg also got 14 points and six rebounds.

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"I just block whenever they shoot it," Spierenburg said. "I just happen to be in the right spot at the right time. It is nice to have seven blocks. I was taller than some of the other players. The girls really came together in this tournament. It is really awesome to win two tournaments in a row. Down the stretch, we made our foul shots. That was very, very helpful."

Junior point guard Angie Nevarez added nine points for the Gaels.

"In the first half, we were going good on all cylinders," Goretti coach Todd Rideout said. "We just wanted to play an aggressive match-up zone defense. We were moving the ball real well in the first half. In the second half, we came out flat and we got into a little bit of foul trouble. That is how they got back into the game. Good defense down the stretch was the key to us pulling it out at the end. We got some key blocks."

Emily Hargreaves had nine points and six rebounds for Smithsburg (3-4). Sara Rishell pulled down nine rebounds, while Gretchen Downey and Ashley Ferguson collected four steals each for the Leopards.

Goretti started quickly, moving to a 10-4 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Gaels outscored the Leopards 9-1 during the second quarter for a 19-5 halftime lead.

Smithsburg rallied to close within 26-16 by the end of the third quarter, but couldn't head off Goretti, although they tried.

The Leopards opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run in the first 3:49 of the period to chop the Gaels' lead down to 26-25. But it was as close as Smithsburg would get.

Goretti outscored Smithsburg 10-6 for the rest of the way to clinch the title.

"We were not moving into the gaps against their zone defense in the first half," Hargreaves said. "We got much better looks in the second half. We got a lift from our bench. We capitalized off of their turnovers and got some layups."

In the consolation game, Fort Hill defeated James Buchanan, 41-24. Becky Miller scored 10 points and Shari Beavers grabbed six rebounds for Fort Hill (2-4). Anna Angle collected 13 rebounds and eight points for James Buchanan (1-9).

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