"We didn't make our free throws," Mercersburg Academy coach Mark Cubit said of the Blue Storm's 4 of 12 performance from the stripe. "We missed some shots on the inside. They were contested shots ... I don't fault the kids. Goretti did a great job defending and those things happen in tight games."
After playing a nip-and-tuck battle through the first half, Goretti elected to turn up the heat on Mercersburg Academy in the second half. The Gaels tied the game 18-18 on an Andrew Chambers foul shot and proceeded to jump into full-court pressure.
The move backfired.
The Storm found the change to their liking as guard Eric Rauhauser scored five points and Colin Cubit canned a 3-pointer in a 12-2 run for a 30-20 lead with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter. Goretti added to its own setback with quick shots and few rebounds to allow the Storm to roll in.
Robertson called a timeout after Cubit's 3 and gave his inferior posterior warning.
"We came out and played defense and got our heads back in the game," Robertson said. "We got a couple of steals and made a couple of easy shots and we got our confidence back."
Tim Alexander came out of the timeout and hit a 3 and followed up with the finishing layup off of a Chambers steal to make it 30-25 within a minute. Goretti trailed 35-31 after three periods.
Goretti took a more patient view of the fourth quarter and it paid off with an opening 7-0 run for a 38-35 lead. The teams locked in two ties - the last at 41-41 with 1:59 remaining off a Rauhauser drive - to set the final sequence.
The Gaels took a more deliberate approach to offense, forcing Mercersburg into a chase mode.
"We ran a different set," Robertson said. "The last part of the game, we ran our 'Five' offense, where we are looking to make five passes before making a move and we got some easy shots off of it."
Gene Johnson scored on a drive to give the Gaels a 43-41 lead with 1:25 remaining. Mercersburg missed a couple of chances to tie, including one of the contested inside shots by Eduardo Archibald-Brown.
Goretti called timeout with 54.9 seconds remaining and went to the "Five" offense to run down the clock. The Gaels moved the ball for 43 seconds before Chambers was fouled with 11.1 seconds left. After Chambers hit one shot to give Goretti a 44-41 lead, Trevor Cobb picked Rauhauser's pocket while he was trying to score the tying basket.
Chambers led Goretti with 12 points.Brashears finished with nine.
Rauhauser led all scorers with 14.