Grace boys start on good foot

December 01, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

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    HAGERSTOWN -- It was the same bunch of names shooting at a different goal to get familiar results.

    Grace Academy reaped more benefits from its ultrasuccessful boys soccer team as the players turned in their spikes for sneakers and tried to put a ball through a net rather than into the back of one.

    That championship teamwork showed through as the Knights' familiarity was the biggest asset in a 59-35 victory over New Life on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.

    Grace's girls showed some similar resiliency, rallying back from a 13-point halftime deficit to tie the score before falling 41-38 to the Rams in the evening's first game.


The boys used a soccer pace to run at New Life early and overwhelm the Rams. With 11 of the 14 players switching over from soccer, there was no question the Knights were ready to use their game shape to an advantage.

"We tried to employ that soccer team mentality tonight," said Mark Koontz, Grace's new coach. "We wanted to use their teamwork and we wanted them to get out there and outrun them, play defense and hit the boards hard."

Guards Zack Morgan and Andrew Michael set the tone by anticipating New Life passes for steals and breakaway layups. The Knights scored 11 straight points to move out to a 16-2 lead with 7:27 remaining in the half. That anticipation created steals and 10 of the points in the run.

Grace all but put the game away with an 18-6 run to end the half with a 34-10 halftime lead. The Knights pushed out to a 32-point lead (48-16) by the end of the third quarter, and that ballooned to a 59-23 lead with 3:34 remaining.

New Life scored the final 12 points of the game to make the score semirespectable.

Morgan led the way with 18 points while Michael added nine. Caleb Serafini powered on the inside for 12 points.

Matt Dillon led New Life with 12 points.

"This victory came a little easier than we thought," said Koontz of his first victory. "We just have to remember that because it will get tougher as the season goes on."

Grace's girls team needed to take a different route to have a chance against New Life.

The Knights failed to rebound in the first half and allowed New Life to build a 26-13 halftime lead.

The Rams scored the final 10 points of the half and held Grace to five points in the second quarter to establish the cushion.

"We got in a hole in the second quarter," said coach Leland Zlomke. "But we made a good comeback and played with a lot of intensity."

After falling behind 31-16 to open the second half, Grace took the game back by harassing New Life with a 1-2-2 full court press the Rams couldn't handle. New Life had trouble getting the ball past half court as Grace held the Rams scoreless for 11 minutes, 2 seconds to move back within 31-30 with 3:12 remaining.

Tori Aikens scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a drive with 13 seconds remaining to tie the game at 37-37.

"When we got into the press, we got into more of a flow," said Zlomke. "(New Life) didn't like it and we got more into the game."

But New Life broke the press for one of the few times in the second half and got April Wright free for a breakaway layup with 6.6 seconds remaining to regain the lead. Victoria Broadwater had the chance to retie the game with 3.6 seconds left but could only convert one of two foul shots.

Wright hit a pair of foul shots with 2 seconds left, which stood for the three-point victory as Grace fell short on a desperation heave from halfcourt at the buzzer.

Broadwater added 10 points for the Knights. Aileen Maknati led New Life with 20 points, while Wright added 13.

"It was a little disappointing in the end," Zlomke said. "We made a good run at it. As the season goes on, the more we press, the better we will get at it."

Grace Academy 59, New Life 35

Sage 1 3-5 5, Dillon 5 0-0 12, Hammrock 2 0-2 4, Sedars 1 2-2 4,m Hall 0 1-2 1, Roynestad 1 0-2 3, DeJong 2 2-2 6. Totals 12 8-15 35.
Morgan 9 0-0 18, S. Koontz 3 1-2 8, Michael 4 0-1 9, Serafini 5 2-2 12, Bunting 2 0-0 4, K. Frederickson 1 1-2 3, M. Koontz 1 0-0 2, Hykes 1 0-2 3. Totals 26 4-9 59.
New Life 2 8 6 19 -- 35
Grace 14 20 14 15 -- 59

3-point goals -- New Life 3 (Dillon 2, Roynestad), Grace Academy 3 (Michael, Hykes, S. Koontz).

New Life 41, Grace Academy 38

Maknati 9 2-2 22, Wright 4 3-4 11, Sparks 3 0-0 6, Williams 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 5-6 41.
Aikens 4 5-7 14, Broadwater 2 5-6 10, Carroll 3 0-2 6, Koontz 2 2-5 6, Zlomke 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 12-20 38.
New Life 12 14 5 10 -- 41
Grace 8 5 11 14 -- 38

3-point goals -- New Life 2 (Maknati 2), Grace 2 (Aikens, Broadwater).

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