But for Ryan Grabill, it was an opportunity squandered, as his Clear Spring boys basketball team dropped a 61-45 MVAL Antietam decision to Smithsburg on Thursday night.
Trailing by 10 at the half, Jacob Brandt led a Blazers charge in the third period to cut the deficit to 35-31 with 1:20 remaining in the quarter.
Then, the run came to an abrupt halt.
Josh Miller followed up a missed shot, Matt Sprecher completed a three-point play and Cobi King drained a five-foot runner with two seconds left to extend the Leopards’ advantage to 42-31 at the end of the period.
“We just lost our composure and they made a very nice run,” said Williams. “We knew it was coming, it was just a matter of how we would react to it.”
It didn’t help matters when Kevin Gibson, Smithsburg’s point guard and floor leader, picked up his third personal foul early in the second half. But the Leopards, behind Sprecher and King, picked up the slack against the Clear Spring pressure defense.
“We just came out and played hard,” said Grabill of his club’s third-quarter run. “We cut it to four, and then made several mistakes in a row and that ended it.”
Clear Spring (4-2, 2-2) could get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
The Leopards (3-6, 2-3) charged to an early lead, scoring the first six points of the game and claimed a 14-8 advantage after the first eight minutes. Clear Spring helped by turning the ball over six times.
Bryan Tracey provided solid inside play off the bench in the second quarter, scoring six of his eight points, as Smithsburg stretched the lead to 28-18.
“That’s what was nice ... to get contributions from different guys aside from Cobi (King) and Kevin (Gibson). Matt Stevens, Matt Sprecher and Bryan Tracey really stepped up tonight,” said Williams.
Meanwhile, the Blazers managed to hit just six of 24 field goal attempts in the first half and failed to place anyone in double figures. C.J. Elwood led Clear Spring with nine points, followed by Jared Brandt and Michael Riley with eight apiece.
“It’s no secret we struggle to score, especially with (leading scorer) Ryan (Aaron) out of the game,” said Grabill. “We can’t afford to take possessions off. We have to be able to take advantage of every opportunity, and we haven’t been able to do that the last two games.”
Gibson’s 10 fourth-quarter points, mostly off driving layups, kept the Blazers at bay in the final eight minutes.
King had 20 points and Gibson had 13 to sparke the Leopards.
Smithsburg 61, Clear Spring 45
SMITHSBURG (3-6, 2-3)
Miller 4, King, 20, Sprecher 5, Stevens 6, Gibson 13, Tracey 8, Barnes 5. Totals 27 7-14 61.
CLEAR SPRING (4-2, 2-2)
Jared Brandt 8, Elwood 9, Quilici 4, Riley 8, Schultz 3, Jacob Brandt 7, Fisher 6. Totals 16 11-21 45.
Smithsburg 14 14 14 19 — 61
Clear Spring 8 10 13 14 — 45
3-point goals — Clear Spring 2 (Riley 2).