SMITHSBURG — The Smithsburg Leopards shook off the Williamsport Wildcats in the second half Friday night, coming away with a 41-32 victory in an MVAL Antietam girls basketball game.
Smithsburg (9-1, 5-1) is now in a three-way tie for first place in the loss column with North Hagerstown and Catoctin in the MVAL Antietam, since the Hubs (5-3, 5-1) defeated the Cougars (9-3, 6-1) on Friday night.
Sara Rishell, a 6-foot-2 senior center, came through with a double-double for the Leopards with 11 rebounds and 11 points to go along with four blocked shots.
Rishell ranks first in the area with four blocked shots per game and third with 9.3 rebounds per game.
“At the end, it came close,” Rishell said. “But we have been in pressure situations before and we know what to do. We work hard in practice on rebounding. Our coaches really stress boxing out. We are not afraid to put a body on somebody.”
The Leopards only had a two-point lead over Williamsport (3-7, 2-4) with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter before they went on an 11-0 run to increase their advantage to 28-15 with four minutes to go in the period. Taylor Belella started the run with a pair of 3-pointers, and Katie Sprecher added five points with a three-point play and a pair of free throws.
“The turning point in the game was when Taylor Belella made back-to-back 3-pointers,” Rishell said. “That was what woke us up and when we started playing up to our potential.”
The Wildcats chopped the lead down to 35-30 with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter. But the Leopards outscored the Wildcats 6-2 the rest of the way to pull out the win. Rishell scored four of those last six points for Smithsburg.
Sprecher added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Leopards, while Danielle Harbaugh had six rebounds and Alexis Andrukat had three steals in the victory.
“I thought we came out and played a better second half,” Smithsburg coach Katy Barnhart said. “We focused more on the free-throw line in the second half. I think we’re still building.”
Kayla Ewing had 12 rebounds, while Allison Gulnac scored 10 points for Williamsport. Casey Arnone had seven rebounds and Stacey Christy added six rebounds for the Wildcats.
“I like the way we battled,” Williamsport coach Chris Malott said. “We battled the whole game. We are getting better and now we have got to get that winning mentality. We have got to get that eye of the tiger. We have got to get a little bit more confidence on offense. We lost to a good team.”
JV: Williamsport, 42-30 (W: Victoria Key 10 points; S: Sam Gladhill 16 points).
Smithsburg 41, Williamsport 32
WILLIAMSPORT (3-7, 2-4)
Gulnac 4 2-3 10, Arnone 0 0-1 0, Scott 1 0-0 2, Christy 3 0-0 6, Myers 1 5-6 7, Ewing 3 1-2 7. Totals 12 8-12 32.
SMITHSBURG (9-1, 5-1)
Belella 2 0-0 6, Lee 1 0-2 2, Andrukat 1 6-10 8, Sprecher 3 5-9 11, Rishell 3 5-9 11, Harbaugh 0 3-5 3. Totals 10 19-35 41.
Williamsport 4 9 7 12 — 32
Smithsburg 8 8 15 10 — 41
3-point goals — Smithsburg 2 (Belella 2).