HAGERSTOWN — Even on nights when its shooting percentages are good, Smithsburg’s boys basketball team is going to rely on defense.
With a prickly defense, Smithsburg stuck it to North Hagerstown 41-31 on Thursday night in an MVAL Antietam Conference clash that gave the Leopards their fourth straight win.
“We shot 30 percent from the field, 11 of 21 at the line, got hammered on the boards,” said Smithsburg coach Eric Gerber.
Sound like a recipe for victory?
“We’re going to have those kind of problems and we aren’t big, so we’ve got to make up for it on defense and force turnovers,” said Gerber.
The Leopards (5-2, 4-0) forced 20 turnovers — most of which came at two critical junctures of the game — and then went into stalling tactics late.
Trailing 12-5, Smithsburg scored the final seven points of the first quarter to pull into a tie, then built a 20-14 lead at halftime after North Hagerstown (1-5, 1-3) committed nine turnovers — seven coming on successive possessions.
Smithsburg jumped out to a 25-16 lead early in the third period, but the Hubs made a run and cut the deficit to 25-24 on a conventional three-point play by Will Peralta with 3:13 left in the quarter.
But Smithsburg forced two quick North turnovers and after each one made the Hubs pay dearly, as Jordan Fortson and Kevin Gibson each drained 3-pointers for a 31-24 lead.
Gerber showed signs of working the clock in the last minute of the third quarter, then came out with a four corners offense to open the fourth quarter. North coach Kevin Hartman was not going to bring his team out of its 2-3 zone into a man defense.
“We thought the kids worked hard to play the game this way, and that’s what we elected to do,” said Gerber. “I was surprised (North) didn’t come out of the zone earlier.”
North relented with four minutes remaining, and Smithsburg outscored North 10-2 the rest of the game — the last five points coming at the foul line.
“Staying in the zone was still our best bet,” said Hartman. “It’s just the turnovers and that’s being a young team. I thought our defense played well and our rebounding was what it needed to be to win. It’s just the turnovers.”
Smithsburg hit 30 percent (12 of 40) from the field while North shot 33 percent (14 of 42). But six of Smithsburg’s baskets came from 3-point land.
The Hubs ruled the rebounding margin, 35-24.
Fortson ended with 10 points to lead Smithsburg and Trent Springs added nine. Peralta was the only North player in double figures with 10.
JV: Smithsburg, 62-47 (S: Josh Miller 24; N: Preston Carey 16).
Smithsburg 41, North Hagerstown 31
SMITHSBURG (5-2, 3-0)
Spickler 4, Springs 9, Hardy 6, Pierre 1, Fortson 10, Hogue 3, Gibson 3, King 5. Totals 12 11-21 41.
NORTH HAGERSTOWN (1-5, 1-3)
Ober 0, Keyes 5, Yacyk 4, Peralta 10, Schoeck 4, Colvin 8, Railing 0. Totals 14 3-9 31.
Smithsburg 12 8 11 10 — 41
North 12 2 10 7 — 31
3-point goals—Smithsburg 6 (Fortson 2, Springs 2, Gibson, King). Rebounds—Smithsburg 24 (Spickler 10), North 35 (Peralta 7). Turnovers—Smithsburg 11, North 20.