“The first half we looked like we were in Alaska, the second half in Hawaii,” said Wildcats coach Chris Malott.
After a miserable 18-percent shooting performance in the first half — in which Williamsport (6-6, 5-4) scored a paltry seven points to trail Smithsburg (4-6, 3-4) by a dozen at the break — the Wildcats began to locate the warmer climate.
“We could see the offense starting to work late in the third quarter,” Malott said.
Trailing 28-16, Williamsport got baskets from Hannah Kastelein and Caroline Strite to close within 28-20 after three periods.
The Wildcats started working the ball inside along the baseline, where Kastelein scored six points. Then the perimeter game began to open up.
Freshman Kate Wade drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Williamsport its first lead of the game, 35-33, with 3:10 remaining. Smithsburg never regained the lead.
Victoria Key scored for the Wildcats, followed by a bucket from Strite for a 40-35 lead. Elyse Koterwas scored for the Leopards to close within 40-37 with 38 seconds left.
The Wildcats sealed the win by making 2 of 5 free throws and hitting the defensive boards following Smithsburg misses.
“We had more airballs than points in the first half,” Malott said. “For it being the 12th game of the year, we looked nervous. The worse we have (played) all year.”
Smithsburg built a 15-5 lead through the first quarter. Both teams went on a scoring drought in the second, as the Leopards took a 19-7 lead into halftime.
Smithsburg’s pressure was effective early, forcing Wiliamsport into 11 turnovers.
Koterwas, who scored 17 points to lead Smithsburg, had eight points in the first quarter and 10 at the break.
“Williamsport had a heck of a second half and they deserved to win,” Smithsburg coach Jimmy Powell said. “We missed too many layups in the first half and could have led by 20 points.
“Our defense played well in the first half, but we learned the game isn’t over until it’s over.”
Williamsport rebounded to make 12 of 25 from the floor in the second half, including two key 3-pointers by Erin Palmer at the start of the fourth quarter that started to turn the tide as Williamsport climbed within 30-28 with 4:55 remaining.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” Powell said. “It was still a winnable game in the end, but (Williamsport) had the second, third efforts.”
Kastelein led Williamsport with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Williamsport 42, Smithsburg 37
WILLIAMSPORT (6-6, 5-4)
Grimes 2, Key 4, Strite 8, Wade 6, C. Robinson 1, Kastelein 12, Coleman 2, Palmer 7. Totals 16 7-16 42.
SMITHSBURG (4-6, 3-4)
Koterwas 17, Vega 2, Shifflett 5, Kum 6, Duckworth 7. Totals 13 11-20 37.
Williamsport 5 2 13 22 — 42
Smithsburg 15 4 9 9 — 37
3-point goals — Williamsport 3 (Palmer 2, Wade). Fouled out — Kum.