Hubs girls get Piedmont challenge

January 22, 2009

Girls Basketball

Conference races are starting to heat up, and there are a few area teams with oppportunities to claim titles:

MVAL Piedmont

This is a big week for No. 2 North Hagerstown (9-1, 1-1), which is currently part of a three-way logjam for second place in the conference with Walkersville (7-4, 1-1) and Frederick (7-3, 1-1). The Hubs will host the Lions on Saturday and the Cadets on Monday.

North's other key conference stretch will begin in 11 days. On Feb. 2, the Hubs will travel to Frederick. The very next day, North will get an opportunity to pay back conference leader Middletown (10-2, 4-0) for a 59-52 loss at Middletown on Dec. 18. Then on Feb. 6, North will travel to Walkersville.

The Hubs rank 24th nationally among teams that post their stats on in steals per game, with 23.4. North is currently ranked 16th in Maryland by the Web site.


MVAL Antietam

It certaintly appears to be a two-team race between No. 3 Boonsboro (9-3, 5-0) and No. 5 Smithsburg (9-3, 4-1) -- the other four Antietam teams are a combined 11-33 overall.

The Warriors edged the Leopards 42-41 at Boonsboro on Dec. 22, with Emma Dalton's basket with about 30 seconds left being the difference.

Smithsburg will host Boonsboro on Feb. 17 in a game that likely will decide whether the Warriors win the league title outright or have to share it with the Leopards.

Apple Valley League

No. 1 Martinsburg (10-1, 3-0) owns the Eastern Panhandle at the moment, although there are several teams that can give the Bulldogs a real challenge in any given game -- No. 3 Jefferson (7-3, 2-1), No. 7 Berkeley Springs (9-4, 1-1), Hedgesville (8-4, 1-1) and Musselman (6-5, 2-1).

The Eagles challenged the Bulldogs on Thursday night, and Martinsburg gets a pair of road tests when it travels to face the Applemen on Monday and the Cougars on Thursday.

In another contest that will define the league race, Hedgesville will host Musselman on Jan. 29.

Mid-Penn Capital

While Shippensburg (12-3, 7-0) has seized control of the conference race, opening up a two-game lead on Big Spring (11-5, 5-2), Waynesboro (7-9, 4-3) took a major hit to its hopes for a second-place finish with a 45-44 loss to Greencastle-Antrim (4-10, 3-4) on Tuesday.

The Maidens can get right back in the mix if they can earn a road victory at Big Spring tonight. It won't be easy -- the Bubblers beat Waynesboro 44-28 at Waynesboro on Dec. 19.

Sideling Hill League

No. 6 Southern Fulton (11-2, 7-2) is alone in third place behind Tussey Mountain (12-1, 9-0) and Everett (10-4, 8-1) -- the only two teams to beat the Indians this season.

With two wins already secured over fourth-place Northern Bedford (8-6, 6-4), Southern Fulton's biggest game left is at home against Tussey Mountain on Feb. 9. The Indians split two games against Everett this season.

Mason Dixon Christian

MDCC fans should circle Tuesday on the calendar, because that's when Heritage Academy (13-2, 8-1) hosts Shalom Christian (11-1, 7-0) in a game that the Eagles have to be looking forward to and will likely decide the regular-season title (or at least whether it will be shared).

When the Flames crushed the Eagles 50-17 at Shalom on Dec. 9, Heritage was playing without Morgan McIntire and her 19.4 points per game. With McIntire healthy, Tuesday's tilt will be much more competitive.

New Life Christian (7-2, 5-1) cannot be totally overlooked yet, with only one league loss -- that coming at Heritage in a 54-18 rout on Dec. 18. The Eagles face New Life again on Feb. 3, and Shalom hosts New Life on Jan. 30 and travels to New Life on Feb. 12 in a makeup game.

Boys Basketball

North Hagerstown has gotten back over the .500 mark with two wins last week to move to 7-5. Head coach Kevin Hartman is hoping the Hubs' camp is back in working order.

North has had personnel issues both on and off the floor, but Hartman thinks he's got his crew together for the home stretch.

Sophomore guard D.D. Dickson has been dismissed from the team along with bench players DeShaun Madison and Darrell Harper. Nate Ober has been battling an injured ankle. Combined with other problems early in the season, Hartman hasn't had a full house every game.

The Hubs are getting junior Bryan Calendine back in sneakers, finally cleared to begin practice following football injuries.

"I think the team we've got now is beginning to bond," said Hartman. "We've got five starters and a bench that knows their roles."

Brent Bell has been on fire in the last six games, averaging nearly 23 points to jump into 11th place in Tri-State scoring with a 16.2 season average.

"Like all the others on this team, (Brent) continues to work hard," said Hartman. "He's 6-foot-1, plays like 6-3 and I wish he were 6-3 so he could play even taller."

The Hubs lost 76-70 to Frederick before posting wins over Catoctin and Smithsburg -- MVAL Antietam opponents -- and Hartman thought the Frederick loss was one to build on.

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