South Hagerstown’s squad should send a thank-you card to Boonsboro.
Were it not for the Warriors, the Rebels would not have the opportunity to wrestle the MVAL Antietam lead from Catoctin.
Without question, when South (12-6, 9-2) hosts Catoctin (11-6, 9-2) Friday night at 7, it will be the most significant Antietam contest of the season. The winner will take the league lead by a full game with two games to play.
“We’re preparing the same way we prepare for every game,” Rebels coach Nate Naylor said Thursday. “It’s a much more important game now that Boonsboro won.”
The Cougars beat the Rebels 71-62 on Jan. 6, withstanding a 30-point night by Tayana Stewart.
“We don’t want to make the same mistakes we made the first time,” Naylor said. “Katrice got in foul trouble early, then Tay got in foul trouble in the third quarter and Chelsey hurt her hip early in the fourth quarter and had to come out. We were a little banged up.”
Catoctin is 9-0 against everyone in the MVAL Antietam other than Boonsboro (9-8, 6-5). For the second time this season, the Warriors upset the Cougars — the latest a 52-47 victory on Tuesday that follows a 54-47 triumph on Jan. 3. Ashlyn Hawbaker (17 points in the first matchup, 12 in the second) and Shannon O’Brien (10 points in the first game, 14 in the second) fueled both wins.
“I think we match up well with them,” Boonsboro coach Sam Connelly said. “We play their post (players) very physical. They’re tall but we matched up well and defended the perimeter well. We got out to a 13-point lead (Tuesday), executed well and held on late.
“We cue in real well to what they’re going, and we’re able to get off screens and contest their shooters. Everyone they bring off the bench can shoot the ball. You really have to focus on defense. They really move the ball well, so you have to defend them well for 30 seconds and force them to take a bad shot.”
While Stewart — who’s averaging a team-best 17.4 points per game — has been the scoring headliner for South, Katrice Dickson has been the Rebels’ go-to player lately. Dickson has led South in scoring in each of the last three games, with 17 in an overtime win over Boonsboro, 29 in a victory over Williamsport and 22 more in a win over Smithsburg.
Naylor said the rebounding battle will be key Friday.
“We’ve got to outrebound them. They’re long and lanky, so we’ve got to hit the boards and be more physical,” Naylor said.
The Rebels finish their MVAL Antietam schedule at Clear Spring (2-13, 0-11) on Tuesday and at Brunswick (5-10, 5-6) a week from Friday. South will be a significant favorite in both games, although the Rebels shouldn’t take the frisky Railroaders too lightly.
Catoctin hosts Williamsport (7-10, 3-8) on Tuesday and travels to Smithsburg (7-6, 6-4) a week from Friday.
Saint James has shown an ability to put the ball through the hoop this season.
The Saints did a Madonna number on St. John’s Catholic Prep on Wednesday, pumping up the victory volume, 99-69.
It’s a long stone’s throw from just two years ago, when Saint James was scoring a prolific 19 points in a loss to Maret School.
This season has been different. It was the Saints’ second time scoring more than 90 points — the first coming in a 90-66 victory over Georgetown Day.
It was the fourth time in 10 years the Saints came within 10 points of the century mark. They also had a 93-61 win over Maryland School for Deaf on Jan. 30, 2007 and a 91-23 decision over Faith Christian on Nov. 15, 2003.
The Saints are averaging 70.4 points per game — second in the Tri-State area only to Martinsburg’s 74.9.
* Even though South Hagerstown still has three hurdles to overcome toward an unbeaten MVAL Antietam slate, there’s an eye looking toward the Class 3A West playoffs — the new postseason home for South and North Hagertown as part of a 13-school field.
Of course, the ridiculous Maryland tournament rule knocks out two games toward the seeding for those teams that played holiday games, so technically if the drawing were Friday, the Rebels would be turning in a 13-2 record instead of 15-2.
It appears the biggest challenge will come from Frederick County, and Naylor is all too familiar with his neighbors, having lost to Tuscarora and Urbana to open the year.
Taking out tournament games, Urbana and Tuscarora are both 11-3 (through Wednesday) and Linganore, which entertains South on Feb. 17, is at 11-4. The best team coming out of Montgomery County currently is Watkins Mill at 10-5.
* The regular season is dwindling down for District 3 in Pennsylvania, and Greencastle-Antrim still has its sights set on a perfect regular season.
Friday, the Blue Devils (19-0) can put a sole claim on the Mid-Penn Colonial title. Saturday, they’ll go against Chambersburg in the Dunks for Drew outing at Chambersburg, and then they finish Tuesday with Waynesboro at home.
The Blue Devils are the No. 1-ranked team in District 3 Class AAA, and playoff action in the district will gear up Wednesday.
Chambersburg still has a good chance at making the District 3 postseason. The Trojans are 10-8 and pretty much need only a split of their four remaining games to get a tournament spot.
The Trojans were at Mechanicsburg on Thursday, play at Bishop McDevitt on Friday, host Greencastle on Saturday and are at home against Steel-High on Tuesday.
— Staff writers Dan Kauffman and Tim Koelble compiled this week’s prep notebook.