It was the same gym with a different playing court, but a lot of the same players. Unfortunately for the Francis Scott Key Eagles, they didn't get the same result on the basketball court against Smithsburg that they did playing volleyball last fall.
On Nov. 10, the Francis Scott Key volleyball team came away with an emotional four-game win over Monocacy Valley Athletic League rival Smithsburg in the region finals.
On that day junior hitters Stephanie Stambaugh and Cindy Sheedy combined for 18 kills, more than enough to offset the strong net play of Smithsburg senior Alexa Robertson.
Last night in Uniontown, Robertson, one of 11 players who competed in the volleyball final, got another chance and made the most of it. She had 26 points and nine rebounds to lead Smithsburg to a 44-41 win over Key in the Class 1A South region semifinals.
"When we saw we were going up against Key again, we kind of felt a little snakebit," said Smithsburg co-coach Jimmy Powell. "They beat us in volleyball and came back to beat us the first [basketball] game here. We felt we had to get the monkey off our back and did that."
It was a relentless trapping defense, particularly in the second half, and the overall play of Robertson that put Smithsburg (16-7) over the top. The Eagles (14-10) continually turned the ball over and never were able to get in their set offense to get the ball inside to Stambaugh and Sheedy.
"It's real frustrating, not as much anger but hurt because we're not going to be able to play with this group again," said Key forward Nicole Keffer, also a starter on the volleyball team.
"We knew this was a game we could win, but we came out nervous and never got into any kind of a groove. They played good defense, particularly in the second half. We could barely get the ball up court."
Both teams struggled offensively through the first three quarters with the game tied at 31 going into the fourth.
That's when Smithsburg put together an 8-0 run. Robertson, who picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game but was able to stay clear of any further trouble, connected on a jumper and two free throws and Marsha Lorschbaugh hit two jumpers.
Key's first points of the quarter came when Kelly Myers scored inside with 4:37 remaining. Trailing 41-33 a little later, the Eagles scored six straight points, the last a follow from Stacey Greene with 49 seconds left to cut the Smithsburg lead to 41-39.
Smithsburg, which shot 13 of 16 from the free-throw line, got one of two from Jessica McGaugh to push the lead to 42-39 with 18 seconds left. Key went inside to Sheedy for a basket to get within one, but only two seconds remained when the Eagles fouled Robertson, who hit both free throws.
"Our kids were nervous," said Key coach Alice Smith. "They've handled pressure better than that this season. Smithsburg plays good defense, but there were times when they weren't even pressuring us and we threw the ball away.
"I'm proud of our kids, they'll learn from this. We had a winning season and we showed that we can play against anyone in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League. We need to be proud of that."