MVAL Antietam Conference leader Williamsport makes the turn in the second half of scheduling with the majority of its games on the road.
In building a 13-0 overall and 8-0 Antietam mark, the Wildcats have taken care of the top contenders at home. Beginning tonight at North Hagerstown (8-4, 6-2), it will be time to take care of business on the road to keep the unbeaten mark in order.
“We’ve got four places that are always tough to play at,” said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray, referring to North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown, Smithsburg and Brunswick.
After the weekend passes, Williamsport will visit second-place South Hagerstown (11-1, 7-1) on Tuesday and then go to Brunswick on Feb. 3. The Wildcats play at Smithsburg Feb. 11.
The Wildcats will enter tonight’s game like anyone else that got snowed out — locked out of gym activity for two days.
“You worry a little about conditioning at this time of year,” said Mowbray.
Williamsport has had the numbers going both ways, averaging 71.2 points offensively and allowing only 44.
“I’ve been very pleased the past month with our defense,” said Mowbray. “We’ll not change anything. We’ll play defense and try to put the points up.”
The Wildcats took North and shoved them to the curb on Dec. 20 by 62-36.
North coach Kevin Hartman said it’s a simple game plan stopping the Wildcats. The difficulty comes in enacting the plan.
“They have the firepower, go on runs offensively and are so tough defensively, and we just have to stop their runs,” said Hartman. “We have to have a level of consistency throughout the game.”
* There’s a new leader in the Tri-State scoring column.
Southern Fulton senior Ryan Harper has taken over the top with an 18.8 average, knocking South Hagerstown’s Andre Pierre (18.1) to second.
Smithsburg senior Katie Sprecher needs 54 more points to reach 1,000 in her high school career.
Sprecher has been remarkably consistent in her three seasons on the Leopards’ varsity. She scored 356 points and averaged 14.8 per game as a sophomore, and scored 388 points and averaged 15.5 per game as a junior. She has scored 202 points this season, once again averaging 15.5 per game.
Sprecher was a Herald-Mail All-County First Team honoree in her sophomore and junior seasons.
Broadfording junior Katie Connolly surpassed 1,000 points for her career on Jan. 14 against New Life. Connolly will join the Lions’ other 1,000-point scorers in a celebration when Broadfording unveils a new banner on Feb. 4 during a doubleheader against Shalom Christian.
Games to watch
Boonsboro (8-7, 4-5) at North Hagerstown (7-4, 7-1), Monday — While the Hubs easily handled the Warriors in the first meeting between these MVAL Antietam teams 63-31 on Jan. 4, North cannot afford to take this game lightly given the three-team race with Smithsburg (12-1, 8-1) and Catoctin (12-3, 8-1) for the conference title.
Hubs senior Iman Scott, who leads the team at 11.9 points per game, has averaged 14.3 in her last four games, including a season-best 23 points Tuesday against Brunswick.
Kara Nettleton has averaged 12.1 points per game and Ashley Smothers 12.0 points per game for the Warriors in their last four games.
Smithsburg at Catoctin, Tuesday — It’s a good bet the Leopards have had this game circled on their calendars since suffering their only loss of the season to the Cougars, 40-39, on Jan. 4. Smithsburg managed just 19 points in the first three quarters before nearly pulling off a 13-point rally in he fourth.
The offense has been much better for the Leopards of late. Katie Sprecher, who is averaging 17.3 points per game in the last nine games, and Sara Rishell (10.5 points) have been consistent all season. Taylor Belella has scored 17.5 points per game in her last two games, and Danielle Harbaugh has two double-doubles in the last five games.
Catoctin is led by Tara Woelfel, who averaged 16.0 points in the Cougars’ first 12 games.
Of the four area wrestlers still unbeaten this season, three are from Berkeley Springs — Ryan Diehl (32-0, 112 pounds), Damen Capper (33-0, 152) and Tory Bennett (31-0, 171).
All three also are first in their weight classes in the most recent West Virginia Coaches Association/wvmat.com Class AA-A state rankings. The Indians are third in the team poll.
Travis Wheat is No. 1 at 285 in Class AAA for Hedgesville, which is ranked fourth as a team.
The other unbeaten wrestler is Chambersburg’s Dawson Peck (28-0), who is No. 2 at 285 in the latest Patriot-News PIAA District 3-AAA rankings. Also for the Trojans, Garrett Hammond (27-2) is No. 1 at 135, while Tanner Shoap (27-1) is No. 2 at 103.
In the recent Maryland State Wrestling Association state rankings, Williamsport has a pair of No. 3s in Class 2A-1A — Kemper Baker (23-2) at 140 and Zach Shoemaker (21-2) at 152. Saint James’ Hal Smith (16-2) is ranked sixth at 171 among private schools.
Last Saturday was a milestone day of sorts for two Washington County teams.
South Hagerstown beat Thomas Johnson 48-30 for its first victory of the season, while Boonsboro defeated Smithsburg 46-30 for its first-ever win over the Leopards.
The annual Chambersburg-Waynesboro rivalry match was postponed Thursday. It now will be held Feb. 9 at Waynesboro.
While leading the Boonsboro boys to their second straight team title at the 20th annual Washington County championships last week, Coby Gussio and Kenny Kopp not only set meet records, but posted top-50 season performances in the U.S.
Gussio’s 35.85 seconds in the 300-meter dash ranks 41st nationally, while Kopp’s 6 feet, 4 inches in the high jump ranks 44th, according to milesplit.com.
— Assistant sports editor Andrew Mason and staff writers Dan Kauffman and Tim Koelble contributed to this notebook.