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Trojans are world-beaters in District 3

March 04, 2001

Trojans are world-beaters in District 3



By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

HERSHEY, Pa. - At the beginning of the Class AAAA District 3 Tournament, the Chambersburg boys basketball team took on an us-against-the-world attitude.

Chambersburg closed the fourth quarter with an 13-3 run to force overtime against top-seeded J.P. McCaskey, then won the game on Nate Holmes' steal and layup with four seconds to play for a stunning 72-69 victory and the team's first district title since 1997.

"Last year, we didn't think we could win (against the No. 1 team in the state, Coatesville)," Trojans coach Shawn Shreffler said. "Today, we said we had experienced that. ... We thought we had a good chance. We were not just happy to be here."

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The Trojans (19-9) probably should have been. Their bandwagon, packed to the gills after a 14-2 start, emptied after losing seven of eight games to close the regular season, including the last five in a row.

The district tournament, and the return of senior guard Nate Holmes, gave them new life.

"The first part was getting Nate back," junior forward Nate Wingerd said. "That helped us mentally. ... But this is huge. This is what we wanted. Everything we did was to get here."

Upon arriving here, though, a loss stared them in the face. The Red Tornados closed the first half on a 12-3 run to lead by nine, and maintained that lead with a surreal outside shooting display, going 6-for-7 from 3-point range in the third quarter.

McCaskey (28-2) still led 58-48 with 6:10 to play on two free throws by Jerry Johnson when the Trojans made their run to force overtime.

Rickie Riddle forced extra time on two free throws with 23 seconds to go, and after Brian Zoeller took a charge for Johnson's fifth foul, Riddle's twisting layin rolled out at the buzzer.

"We just kept trying to cut it little by little," Holmes said. "We knew we didn't need one big play. We just kept getting their key guys out of the game."

Johnson was the third disqualification for McCaskey's "Iron Five" starting lineup, leaving the Red Tornadoes with two starters and three no-names on the floor for the extra four minutes.

"I think maybe our kids thought it was over, and their kids didn't," Shreffler said. "(McCaskey's) kids didn't want to lose. I don't think their bench wanted to be the reason if they lost the game."

For the first three minutes, they weren't. Reserve Niquan Lee found Bobby Eberhart for a 3 and backup point guard Jon Cameron hit a short shot for a 68-64 lead that still held up with 44 seconds to play.

Then the Trojans went to work - again. Holmes missed two free throws, but Wingerd got the rebound and put it back in. After another Cameron free throw, Riddle got more free-throw chances. Twice he hit the front end of a two-shot foul, twice he missed the back half. Both times, reserve forward Donnie Fisher crashed the boards to get the ball back for the Trojans.

"The whole year, I thought we needed players to make plays," Shreffler said. "Guys have always stepped up to make the big play. We got them again today."

The second resulted in a jump ball for the Trojans, and Riddle drove and missed again on the ensuing play. Lee grabbed the rebound for McCaskey, but Holmes took the ball right out of his hands, pumped once and went up in a crowd for the lay-in and a 70-69 lead.

Furious about a no-call, Lee was charged with a technical foul and Shreffler sent Riddle back to the line to finish things off. Just like at the end of regulation, he finally made both free throws again.

"That was a little payback," Riddle said. "Coach sent me up there, and I wanted to knock them down to seal the deal this time."

He did, setting off a wild celebration when Holmes received the inbounds pass. Just one week earlier, the Trojans had celebrated their biggest win of the season, using a 9-0 run in the final two minutes to beat perennial nemesis Harrisburg.

"We knew once we beat Harrisburg that we could beat McCaskey," said Wingerd, who finished with a career-high 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting. "They were the same team. We just used the same gameplan."

The same gameplan, the same result - but a whole lot more attention. Apparently, the world isn't against Chambersburg anymore.

"This should definitely gain us some respect," said Holmes, who finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. "We beat Harrisburg, nobody respected us. We beat Hempfield, no respect. But now ..."

Chambersburg 72 J.P. McCaskey 69



CHAMBERSBURG (72)

Fisher 2, Zoeller 6, Wingerd 26, Holmes 21, Shank 2, Riddle 11, Schoenberg 2, Clark 2. Totals 23-53 20-31 72.

J.P. McCASKEY (69)

Cameron 3, Johnson 20, Eberhart 16, Gibson 7, Patterson 7, Salisbery 14, Lee 2. Totals 23-47 14-20 69.

Cham'burg109271511-72

McCaskey11172768-69

Three-point goals-Chambersburg 6 (Wingerd 2, Holmes 4), McCaskey 8 (Johnson 5, Gibson 2, Salisbery). Fouled out-Zoeller, Johnson, Patterson, Salisbery. Technical-Lee.

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