Indians' strong 'D' nets District 5 title

February 22, 2008|By Dan Kauffman

What's the secret to the stiffling defense Southern Fulton's boys play?

"I have no idea," Indians coach Kent Hendershot said.

He knows one thing:

Whatever it is, it works.

Southern Fulton won its fourth PIAA District 5-A title in six years with Wednesday's 42-29 victory over Shade at the University of Pitt-Johnstown. Shade entered the game averaging nearly 70 points per game, with four players averaging in double figures. It left without a single player scoring as many as 10 points.

"We frustrated them and wore them down," Hendershot said. "They got tired, their shots were hitting the front rim and we did a good job on the boards."


The Indians (20-7) have held opponents to 33.8 points per game over their last nine games. Only one opponent has scored more than 40 in that time against Southern Fulton's man-to-man defense.

"My assistant and I were sitting outside the gym waiting to take the floor (Wednesday), and he said, 'When you look at our guys, we certainly don't scare anybody,'" Hendershot said. "We're not big or overly quick, but they've taken to heart their individual responsibilities. Team-wise, when we have breakdowns, we seem to recover and not get hurt too badly. They've embraced the team concept.

"These guys have developed a knack for shutting down people."

Jake McCarthy - who leads the Indians with his 11.7 scoring average - had 21 against Shade, including five 3-pointers, to give Southern Fulton enough offense to celebrate another title.

"I thought he really took over the game," Hendershot said. "He had open shots and he drained them. As our senior captain and leader, I expect nothing less than that. He worked very hard in the offseason on his shooting. He's been inconsistent, but when we've needed points, he's stepped up for us."

Southern Fulton will face the District 7 fourth-place team - either Union or Bentworth - at Chestnut Ridge next Friday at 8 p.m. in the first round of the state tournament.

Leopards rolling

It wasn't that long ago that Smithsburg's girls were stuck in a six-game losing streak and going nowhere fast at 5-10 overall and 2-3 in the MVAL Antietam.

That's a distant memory.

Over the last three weeks, no team in the conference has been hotter than the Leopards (11-10, 6-3), who have won six straight - including victories over the other three teams at the top of the Antietam standings - to vault into second place in the conference.

"We're feeling pretty good in Smithsburg right now," Leopards coach Ed Hargreaves said - mentioning the boys' current five-game winning streak.

The girls have spent February avenging earlier losses. First, they went to Brunswick and derailed the 'Roaders 54-36 on Feb. 5, then they earned a 51-42 home win over Williamsport on Valentine's Day before the coup de grace - a 50-42 road win over Boonsboro on Tuesday that was the Warriors' first loss in conference play.

Smithsburg previously lost to Brunswick 60-54 on Dec. 21, to Williamsport 40-20 on Jan. 11 and to Boonsboro 46-42 on Jan. 15.

"I think a big part overall is just the confidence the girls are starting to get," Hargreaves said. "The Brunswick game, for us, was a big confidence boost. We've had some close games with them the last two seasons but we couldn't get over the hump. We blew a lead in the last minute of the first game. I showed them the game tape of it, and we went down there and played very well - at that time it was our best game of the year. We had an eight-point lead at halftime and just built on it.

"They knew Brunswick had beaten Williamsport and was playing well. Obviously, we had two big wins against Williamsport and Boonsboro. We had not been able to do anything offensively against Williamsport recently. I don't think we had scored more than 31 against them the last two years, so for us to go out and score 51 says a lot about how we've come along offensively."

Emily Hargreaves leads the Leopards with her 10.8 scoring average, and she's only gotten better of late - along with her teammates.

"She's shooting 50 percent from 3-point range the last six games - she's 12 for 24 - and she's averaging a little over 16 points a game in those games," Ed Hargreaves said. "We're averaging 9.5 assists in those six games, so we're passing the ball well, sharing the ball and everybody seems to know what their role is right now."

Defensively, Smithsburg has allowed just 34.2 points per game during the streak, with freshman center Sara Rishell playing a big part.

"Over the last six games, she's averaging 11.5 rebounds and five blocks per game," Hargreaves said. "She's not a big scorer, but defensively, we know we have her inside as a shot-blocker and shot-changer. For her being a freshman, she's having a huge year."

Smithsburg's recent success could bode well for the Leopards as the playoffs draw near - they start next weekend.

"They know we've beaten everybody in our conference at least once," Hargreaves said. "They're so much more confident now."

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