As expected, the race for the MVAL Antietam title appears to be wide-open with each team having played four of its 14 league contests through Wednesday.
Catoctin, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg and South Hagerstown are all 3-1 in league play to share first place, with Boonsboro a game back at 2-2.
The Hubs’ lone league loss came at Catoctin, 49-41, on Dec. 21. North also handed rival South its only league loss, rallying from an early deficit to defeat the Rebels 46-38 in the Hubs’ gym on Dec. 12.
Senior Iman Scott leads North with her 17.1 points per game. She scored 31 in an Antietam victory over Brunswick, and netted 30 of the Hubs’ 46 points in Tuesday’s league win at Williamsport.
The Leopards’ three league wins have come against Boonsboro, Williamsport (by one point) and Brunswick, while Smithsburg fell to South in a high-scoring affair on Tuesday.
Elisa Owens — who appears fully recovered from an ACL tear that left her at less than 100 percent last season — is averaging 17.8 points per game and erupted for 33 in the victory over Brunswick. Alexis Andrukat (12.8 points per game) has two double-digit assist games, and Danielle Harbaugh (10.0 points per game) has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in each of Smithsburg’s last two games.
The Rebels responded to their setback against North — in which leading scorer Tayana Stewart (18.1 points per game) was in foul trouble all game and finished with just two points — with league wins over Boonsboro, Williamsport and Smithsburg.
Stewart started her season with a 36-point outburst in a win over Tuscarora and has scored 20 or more points in three other games. Katrice Dickson (11.5 points per game) and Chelsea Scott (10.6 points per game) have also been productive as South has leaned on its three stellar sophomores.
Boonsboro lost its first two Antietam games against Smithsburg and South, then beat Clear Spring before scoring an upset victory over Catoctin, 54-47, on Tuesday. Ashlyn Hawbaker’s 10.0 points per game leads the Warriors, with Stephanie Pantos and Shannon O’Brien tied for second at 7.6 points per game.
* Several private school players have started the season fast.
It’s no surprise that Broadfording senior Katie Connolly — who went past the 1,000-points milestone last year as a junior — is lighting up the nets. She leads Washington County with her 22.1 points per game and has gone for more than 30 twice.
St. Maria Goretti sophomore Severija Narkute — an exchange student from Lithuania — has helped the Gaels start the season 8-4 by averaging 18.3 points per game on solid shooting percentages. She’s 63-for-110 (57.3 percent) from 2-point range and 25-for-56 (44.6 percent) from 3-point range.
Grace Academy senior Kelsey Koontz has been a consistent double-double threat for the Knights, averaging 16.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
Heritage Academy senior Rachel Clarke has helped lead the Eagles to a 6-0 start. She’s averaging 14.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Fellow seniors Jessica Gaylor (12.2 points per game) and Callie Butts (11.3 points per game) have given Clarke plenty of scoring help.
* Heritage has outscored its six opponents 359-176. The Eagles’ defense specializes in grand larceny, with four players averaging more than four steals a game (Kathleen Kidd at 6.0, Butts and Clarke at 5.0 each and Gaylor at 4.5). Butts (7.2 assists) and Kidd (5.3 assists) also shred opponents on the offensive end.
The featured game on the MVAL Antietam docket next week comes Wednesday when South Hagerstown visits reeling Clear Spring.
South took over sole possession of first place in the league with a 4-0 record with a win over Smithsburg (4-1) on Tuesday, while Brunswick beat Clear Spring to drop the Blazers to 3-1.