It’s not a matter of life or death, but St. Maria Goretti really would like to snap its string of goose eggs when it comes to the Baltimore Catholic League. And, you can emphasize “really” to the highest degree.
“The kids really need to win a (BCL) game,” coach Amrit Rayfield said on Thursday.
Goretti will host Loyola Blakefield tonight. On paper, it would appear this might be one of Goretti’s best shots at breaking a streak that has reached 35 losses.
Loyola (6-11) is winless in four BCL games this year while Goretti (6-10) has five losses, extending the streak dating back to a 55-49 win over Calvert Hall at the Gael Center on Jan. 18, 2008.
“This is almost like, ‘This has to be the one,’” said Rayfield. “From a size standpoint, we have an advantage. Loyola is very deliberate offensively and play a sagging man defense.”
Goretti’s most recent opportunity to snap the streak came Saturday, a 68-45 setback to Archbishop Spalding after leading at halftime.
Wildcats face two tests
The Williamsport gym house should be packed tonight when the Wildcats entertain Smithsburg in an MVAL Antietam matchup — the first of what should be two good tests for the 9-0 ’Cats.
Smithsburg (5-5 through Wednesday) could be troublesome if it comes to the gym ready to play and score from the opening buzzer.
On Tuesday, Williamsport hits the road for an encounter with Middletown, always a tough team at home. Despite a down season in which they are just 2-7, the Knights are another team it is not wise to take lightly.
Smithsburg has not beaten Williamsport since a 52-47 overtime win on Feb. 15, 2008, a span of five games.
Here’s a half-dozen games to keep an eye on over the next seven days:
* Catoctin (8-2, 5-0) at North Hagerstown (4-3, 4-1), tonight: The MVAL Antietam race sure looks like it’s going to come down to these two teams and Smithsburg (7-1, 3-1). The Cougars handed the Leopards their only loss this season, 40-39, two days before Smithsburg handed the Hubs their only league loss, 60-48. North does not want to fall two games behind Catoctin in the loss column, which would be a difficult hole to dig out of.
The Hubs certainly have the weapons to compete with the Cougars — six different players have led North in scoring in a game this season, and five have scored in double figures in at least one game. Iman Scott leads the Hubs at 10.6 points per game.
* Williamsport (3-6, 2-3) at Smithsburg, tonight: The Leopards will be prohibitive favorites in this game, and for good reason. Katie Sprecher, who is averaging 15.1 points per game this season, is scoring 19.3 per game over her last four. Sara Rishell (10.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 blocks) has improved her offensive game and is still a dominant defensive presence.
This is a good litmus test for a Wildcats squad that is very young and very promising down the road. Sophomore Stacey Christy has two huge double-doubles (14 points and 16 rebounds against Northern Calvert, 19 points and 17 rebounds against South Hagerstown) in her last four games, and freshman Chelsea Scott has scored in double fgures in her last three games, averaging 13.7 points in those three games.
* Broadfording (5-6) at St. Maria Goretti (8-5), Saturday: Since a 6-0 start, the Gaels’ schedule has gotten tougher and as a result Goretti has won just two of its last seven games. Colleen Costello (16.4 points per game) has continued to play well but has not been getting much help.
The Lions’ Katie Connolly leads Washington County with her 20.2 points-per-game average and has four games with at least 25 points. Jade Boone (9.6 points, 6.5 rebounds) has ben a solid second option.
* Smithsburg at Liberty (6-1), Tuesday: Liberty is currently tied with South Carroll at 5-0 atop the MVAL Chesapeake and will give the Leopards a good road test.
* Saint James (4-3) at St. Maria Goretti, Tuesday: The Saints had a 21-day break from Dec. 14 to Jan. 4 and it didn’t do them any favors as they’ve lost two straight since — including a 41-40 setback to Hancock after Saint James beat the Panthers 46-33 earlier in the season.
The Saints are led by Jordan Wills (13.9 points per game) and Kayla Peterson (9.4 points per game), and the battle between them and Costello should be intriguing.
* Williamsport at Catoctin, Thursday: Another litmus test in the progression of the young Wildcats.
The 30th annual Rebel Invitational will seem more like the Rebel Quad on Saturday at South Hagerstown.
The invitational, which has had as many as 10 teams in recent years, will only have four teams this year — Williamsport (10-0), James Buchanan (9-13), Westminster (2-4) and the host Rebels (0-7).
South coach Donnie Rowland said he’s disappointed with the turnout.
“I know the other teams are disappointed too, but I had no control over it,” he said. “We already have the ball rolling for next year, though, and we have some teams already committed.”
Each team will face the other three teams Saturday in duals. The two teams that fare the best will then meet for the title, while the other two wrestle for third place.
Rowland said Wednesday night that an additional match for each team might be possible that day.
“We’re hoping to get five matches in, but we haven’t figured that out yet,” he said. “We’re just trying to get the most matches we can.”
Undefeated and defending champ Williamsport, fresh off its Hub Cup victory last weekend at North Hagerstown, is a heavy favorite to win it all again.
“They’ve got a nice team,” Rowland said. “It’s kind of hard to compete with that.”
The action starts at 10 a.m.
Century club adds members
While the century club remains most exclusive, it’s still accepting members.
Wrestlers who’ve joined this season with their 100th career victories include Williamsport’s Kemper Baker, Martinsburg’s Chris Parker and Hedgesville’s Travis Wheat.
— Assistant sports editor Andrew Mason and staff writers Dan Kauffman and Tim Koelble contributed to this notebook.