SMITHSBURG — Coming off a lackluster 56-37 loss at North Hagerstown on Tuesday night, Smithsburg’s girls basketball team came out with a much higher intensity level Friday night on the Leopards’ home court against Catoctin.
Smithsburg gave this season’s MVAL Antietam champions all they could handle for most of the contest. But the Cougars executed better for an eight-minute stretch of the second half, putting together a 19-5 run that broke a 38-38 tie. A last-ditch Leopards rally fell short in a 65-53 loss that was nonetheless promising with the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs two weeks away.
“I’m very proud of our kids tonight. They came out and played very hard,” Smithsburg coach Katy Barnhart said. “There’s things we’ve got to get better at, but tonight was a step in the right direction.
“The goal is to peak at playoff time.”
The Leopards (8-8, 7-6) scored the final six points of the first quarter — capped by Elisa Owens’ 3-pointer with two seconds left — to take a 14-9 lead. Danielle Harbaugh set the tone by battling tough in the paint, scoring Smithsburg’s first two baskets to start a 19-point, 11-rebound night.
“Danielle was very impressive inside,” Barnhart said.
Catoctin (14-6, 12-2) responded with an 11-1 run to start the second quarter before the rest of the period became a foul shooting competition. Smithsburg made 12 of 14 freebies and Catoctin sank 8 of 13 in the frame, but the Cougars’ 7-for-11 shooting from the field in the quarter led to a 31-28 halftime lead.
Catoctin took a 36-30 lead early in the third quarter before 3-pointers by Owens and Elyse Koterwas tied the game for Smithsburg. Owens hit a jumper with 3:15 left in the frame to tie the game again at 38, but that was when Catoctin took control.
The Cougars outscored the Leopards 11-5 in the final three minutes of the third quarter, then scored the first eight points of the fourth to build a 57-43 lead with five minutes left.
Smithsburg went to a full-court press and battled to get back in the game, using a 7-0 run to get within 57-50 with 3:12 left.
But consecutive baskets by MacKenzie Smith halted the comeback, and after Alexis Andrukat missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2:28 to play, Kendall Zickefoose drained a short floater off the glass to give Catoctin a 63-50 lead with 1:31 left to seal things.
“We just wanted to focus on energy, intensity and playing hard for four quarters, and we definitely did that tonight,” Barnhart said. “Catoctin executed very well offensively.”
Owens finished with 12 points and three assists for Smithsburg. Andrukat had seven assists, five rebounds and three steals, and Koterwas added six rebounds. The Leopards made 15 of 46 field goals and committed 24 turnovers.
Amanda Hackney led Catoctin with 13 points, Erin Phelan had 11 and Smith added 10 — all in the second half. Five Cougars scored at least eight points each as Catoctin finished 24-for-54 from the field with just 13 turnovers.
Catoctin 65, Smithsburg 53
CATOCTIN (14-6, 12-2)
Grossweiler 4, Hackney 13, Zickefoose 8, Woelfel 6, Erfurdt 9, K. Phelan 2, E. Phelan 11, Clemons 2, Smith 10. Totals 24 13-24 65.
SMITHSBURG (8-8, 7-6)
Harbaugh 19, Owens 12, Koterwas 5, Shifflett 6, Andrukat 7, Gladhill 4. Totals 15 19-27 53.
Catoctin 9 22 18 16 — 65
Smithsburg 14 14 15 10 — 53
3-point goals — Catoctin 4 (Hackney 2, Woelfel, E. Phelan), Smithsburg 4 (Owens 2, Koterwas, Andrukat). Fouled out — Grossweiler, Owens.