Split second puts Leopards first

February 28, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SMITHSBURG -- When Catoctin guard Kolby Maly banked in a desperation 13-foot hook shot as the horn sounded, all eyes turned toward the officials.

A couple of drama-filled seconds later, the call came.

No good.

And with that, Smithsburg's boys basketball team ran off the court victorious by the slimmest of margins Friday night, 50-49 victors over the disbelieving Cougars in the Maryland Class 1A West East Sectional quarterfinals.

"On a play like that, you don't hear anything," said Leopards guard Josh Conway, who made the winning foul shot with 5.4 seconds left. "I'm shocked about this whole thing. I was just trying to figure out what was going on."

It came down to the final two possessions.

Tied at 49, Smithsburg (8-15) took control with 53 seconds left and played keepaway until calling a timeout with 18.3 to play. Conway took the inbounds pass, waited 10 seconds at the top of the key, then drove down the right side of the lane and drew a whistle for a push.


Conway's first foul shot went in and out, but his second one was pure - one of few that were for the Leopards, who made just 11 of 25 free throws.

"I was just trying to get to the basket and make a play," Conway said. "When I missed the first one, I tried to put it past me and concentrate on making the second one."

"Unfortunately, we've really struggled from the line all year, even our good shooters, and we did again tonight," Leopards coach Eric Gerber said. "At the end, I had the kid I absolutely wanted at the free-throw line."

After a timeout, Derek Szabados - who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, helping Catoctin (7-16) erase a 16-point halftime deficit - raced upcourt and pulled up from the left elbow for a jumper that was blocked by Alan Reed, drawing a huge roar from the Smithsburg fans.

Amidst the noise - which made it near-impossible to hear the horn - Maly picked up the loose ball with his back to the basket, spun into the lane and threw up a high-arching, right-handed hook shot that went off the glass and in. But the officials ruled the ball was still in his hand when time ran out.

Reed's block was his biggest play of a big night. He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and scored 12 in the first half as the Leopards built a 32-16 halftime lead.

"Alan has played like that all year," Gerber said. "He has improved so much since he was a freshman. He loves the game and worked real hard to get where he is today. That last block was huge."

Behind Szabados and Justin Albright - who made four 3-pointers and matched Szabados with 16 points - Catoctin roared back in the third quarter to tie the game at 38 entering the fourth.

The Cougars took a 45-40 lead on Szabados' steal and layup with 5:06 left, but Smithsburg kept battling and tied the score at 49 on Steve Kretzer's 3 from the top of the key with 1:09 to play.

"Josh set a great screen, and as soon as it left my hand, I knew it was good," Kretzer said.

"Once (Catoctin) got up five, I thought our composure was excellent," Gerber said. "We ran a play and Steve knocked down a huge shot."

Smithsburg will travel to Poolesville on Monday for a Class 1A West East Sectional semifinal.

* Point guard Marissa Luipersbeck scored 19 points and Allie Nickels added 14 points and nine rebounds as Smithsburg's girls pulled away from Brunswick early on the way to a 59-32 victory in their Class 1A West East Sectional quarterfinal.

Luipersbeck had 15 points in the first half, aggressively pushing the ball upcourt and converting on drives as well as jumpers for the Leopards (15-7), who will host Catoctin in the 1A West East Sectional semifinals on Tuesday.

"When she's aggressive for us, we're good," Leopards coach Katy Barnhart said. "She's a really good team leader, and that's how she leads. She isn't very vocal but she leads by example."

Katie Sprecher had nine points, five rebounds and three steals, Taylor Belella had nine points and Sara Rishell added seven rebounds and six blocks for Smithsburg.

Mel Weddle had 12 points for Brunswick (3-19).


Smithsburg 50, Catoctin 49

Szabados 16, Maly 9, Myers 2, Albright 16, Nowaczyk 2, Reaver 2, May 2. Totals 19 6-10 49.
Reed 19, Kretzer 8, Kendall 3, Conway 10, Orndorff 2, Dinterman 3, Ianaro 1, Edwards 4. Totals 18 11-25 50.
Catoctin 8 8 22 11 - 49
Smithsburg 13 19 6 12 - 50

3-point goals - Catoctin 5 (Maly, Albright 4), Smithsburg 3 (Kretzer, Kendall, Conway). Fouled out - Albright.


Smithsburg 59, Brunswick 32

Wilton 6, Pearell 12, Polling 7, Bell 5, Brown 2. Totals 11 10-18 32.
Nickels 14, Luipersbeck 19, Rishell 5, Sprecher 9, Belella 9, Andrukat 2, Bachtell 1. Totals 19 20-35 59.
Brunswick 8 4 12 8 - 32
Smithsburg 19 22 9 9 - 59

3-point goals - Smithsburg 1 (Belella). Fouled out - Axline, Wilton.

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