Smithsburg Girls Basketball Excited for Big Friday Night

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This upcoming Friday has the potential to be the biggest night for Smithsburg's girls basketball program in quite some time.

The Leopards, who are 9-2, are hosting Williamsport, Washington County's top team in recent years. In addition to the big game, the program is honoring its 1975-76 girls basketball team which won Smithsburg's first girls basketball state championship.

To head coach Chip Bachtell, a win on Friday would be the most noteworthy regular season triumph for the program since Smithsburg topped Middletown two seasons ago. Although a victory would generate a considerable amount of deserved buzz around the program, Bachtell doubts it would affect his players' diligent approach to the rest of the season.

"Our kids worked hard in the offseason with 6:15 AM workouts using our shooting machine," Bachtell said. "We don't take any wins for granted, and appreciate every single one of them."

A win against Williamsport however would be a statement for Smithsburg though. Williamsport is the only team to beat Smithsburg this season, topping the Leopards in regular season action as well as during the Wildcats' holiday tournament.

The two programs have developed a friendly rivalry that has seen Smithsburg benefit as a result.

"Those two losses certainly will help us down the road and in the playoffs," Bachtell said. "Williamsport has been good to us and included us in their Christmas Tournament the last three years. Those six extra games have helped our program immensely. We're excited to play them again."

If the Leopards are going to flip the script against Williamsport, the team will need a strong performance from Hailey Bachtell. The senior guard has been tremendous this season, leading the team with an average of 15 points per game. It's been a good end to a great career for Bachtell, who is just 15 points shy of reaching the 1,000 career points scored mark.

Senior forward Morgan Henderson has also been a go to player for Smithsburg, averaging 11 points and eight rebounds game. Fellow senior forward Brett Grove has been a spark defensively for the Leopards, while senior guard Alden Grosh and sophomore guard Heather Barnes have both managed to score and provided athleticism for Smithsburg at both ends of the floor.

A major aspect of Smithsburg's excellent season thus far has been the emergence of two freshmen that have played well enough to start for the Leopards. Guard Lexi Henderson, Morgan Henderson's younger sister, is averaging seven points, four assists and for rebounds a game while doing an excellent job of ball handling. Ashley Davis has also been an all-around threat for Smithsburg, scoring seven points, hauling in eight rebounds and dishing out three assists per game.

"We have seven seniors, however we start two freshmen, a sophomore and two seniors," Bachtell said. "We knew coming in the freshmen were going to compete for minutes. We didn't realize they would be so polished this early in the season."

With the team firing on all cylinders, the Leopards will look to make a big statement this Friday. Regardless of the result of that game however, it's become pretty clear that Smithsburg will be a team to watch once the MPSSAA state playoffs begin.

"We obviously thought we had the potential to win plenty of games. The growth and development of the freshmen has lifted everyone's goals," Bachtell said. "Certainly we would like to win some playoff games and compete for a region title. In high school basketball with our shooters, anything can happen."
January 18th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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