Francis Scott Key coach Alice Smith would have preferred to see her No. 18 Eagles play their usual solid 32 minutes of basketball in Uniontown last night.
But there has to be some comfort in the facts that they went out against Smithsburg, played a poor first half with a number of starters in foul trouble, saw the visiting Leopards open the second half with six straight points to take a five-point lead -- and still won, 59-42.
"No," said Smith. "For some reason we weren't prepared at the start. They were going at us, and my kids came out kind of sluggish. When we picked it up intensity-wise in the middle of the third quarter, we started to bother them. We started rebounding, hitting shots, getting some steals, and all five really picked it up."
Owning first place late in the season comes with a price, and the Eagles (16-1) are finding that out as their Monocacy Valley Athletic League rivals are going right at them the second time around on the schedule.
So after Smithsburg (9-6, 7-6 in the MVAL) scored on its first three possessions to start the third quarter to lead 28-23, Smith called timeout, and the Eagles (12-1 in the MVAL) responded with 14-0 run to take control.
All five starters scored during the run.
Sophomore point guard Sindi Stem got it started with a short jumper and scored all six of her points during the key stretch. Senior guard Nicole Keffer (13 points) followed with a big three-pointer to tie the score at 28 with 4: 58 left.
A little later, junior Jessica Matos (nine points, nine rebounds) got a steal at the defensive end, lunging out of bounds to save it to Stem, who got it right back to her for a foul. Matos hit both free throws to push the Eagles' lead to 35-28.
Senior forwards Stephanie Stambaugh (17 points, seven rebounds) and Cindy Sheedy (14 points, seven rebounds, four steals) also had key points in the run.
"We didn't come out very hot, didn't go at them," Sheedy said. "In the third quarter, we just said we've got to win and push ourselves."
Corey Brennan's three-pointer with six seconds left in the third quarter got the Leopards within five, but the Eagles started to dominate inside with Stambaugh and Sheedy to pull away midway through the fourth quarter. The two scored 10 of the Eagles' first 12 points in the quarter.
The Eagles' defense limited Smithsburg sophomore Rachel Bachtell to just seven points. She came in averaging around 17 points a game.
Pub Date: 2/06/97