SMITHSBURG—The Smithsburg Leopards seemingly have put their disappointing 9-13 regular season behind them.
After getting a bye in the first round, Smithsburg opened playoff action in the second round by eliminating the Boonsboro Warriors 69-58 on Thursday night in a Maryland Class 1A West Region East Section boys basketball semifinal.
Smithsburg (10-13) will play at Brunswick on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the East Section championship game. The Leopards are one win away from repeating as East Section champions and two wins away from repeating as West Region champions and advancing to a second straight Maryland state tournament.
Junior guard Matt Sprecher scored seven of his 10 points during the first quarter to help Smithsburg build a 17-11 advantage over Boonsboro. The Leopards were up by only one point when Sprecher got a bucket to put them up by three points with 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Sprecher then canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer to extend their lead to six points.
“We really came together as a team,” Sprecher said. “We just forgot about the regular season and had a fresh start in the playoffs. We started out hot. It was just thanks to my teammates for giving me some open passes. That was good to get a pretty big lead in the first quarter and then we were able to carry that momentum over in the second quarter.”
Austin Ryan banged home a pair of 3-pointers during the second quarter as Smithsburg increased its advantage to 32-17 by halftime.
“This was easily our best first half of the season,” Smithsburg coach Mike Williams said. “When you get four players to score in double figures, that shows how much of a team effort that you had. We passed the ball around really well. We’ll have to play even better at Brunswick on Tuesday night.”
Cobi King had 16 points and seven rebounds for Smithsburg. In the fourth quarter, King made nine out of his 10 free throws. Bryan Tracey had 13 points and five rebounds, while Kevin Gibson scored 12 points for the Leopards.
Senior guard Scott Bennett fired in a game-high total of 26 points, including four 3-pointers, to go along with five rebounds for Boonsboro (9-15). Justin Jardeleza scored 12 points, Dylan Coulter added seven rebounds and Casey Strunk had six rebounds for the Warriors.
“We turned over the ball a good bit and we gave up too many second shots,” Boonsboro coach Skip Chambers said. “They shot the ball well and you have to give them credit. We are losing seven seniors who have played with a lot of heart.”
The Warriors had a few hot spells during the second half, but they just couldn’t put a big enough dent in the Leopards’ lead.
Smithsburg 69, Boonsboro 58
Walsh 4, Cowden 5, Jardeleza 12, Strunk 7, Wetzel 2, Bennett 26, Coulter 2. Totals 21 11-18 58.
King 16, Ryan 7, Sprecher 10, Shifler 3, Stevens 8, Gibson 12, Tracey 13. Totals 20 25-36 69.
Boonsboro 11 6 16 25 — 58
Smithsburg 17 15 17 20 — 69
3-point goals — Boonsboro 5 (Jardeleza, Bennett 4), Smithsburg 4 (King, Ryan 2, Sprecher).