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Trojans can only ask 'What if?' after loss to Cougars

January 25, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A laundry list of "what ifs" followed No. 2 Chambersburg's performance against Harrisburg on Tuesday night.

What if the Trojans wouldn't have fallen behind 16-3 in the first 3:15 of the game?

What if the Trojans wouldn't have shot 2-for-20 in a critical third period?

What if the Trojans wouldn't have missed 10 layups?

What if the Trojans would have shot better than 30 percent from the floor?

The entire Chambersburg boys basketball clan is left with unanswered questions after the Trojans stood tall in front of an overflow crowd before succumbing to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's top-ranked Class AAAA team, 66-53 in a physically contested Mid-Penn Commonwealth game.

The Cougars (16-0, 11-0) blasted out to an 8-0 lead and the game was only 1:09 old.

"We didn't even have a chance to get in any defensive set," said Chambersburg coach Shawn Shreffler. "We wanted to get 5-on-5 with them. That was one of our goals because transition is their strength."

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After Jonathan Motichka nailed a 3-pointer, Harrisburg answered with another 8-0 burst to take a 16-3 lead, and 4:45 still remained in the opening quarter.

Three turnovers contributed directly to Harrisburg buckets that gave the Cougars a 27-14 lead with 5:20 to play in the half.

"We wanted to get the first good lick in," said Harrisburg coach Kirk Smallwood. "But we knew (Chambersburg) would come back and they did with a wallop."

Suddenly, the Trojans (12-4, 8-3) began playing inside-outside basketball on offense. Reserve Matt Bosenbark hit a 3-pointer and Motichka had a pair of free throws that sliced the deficit to 27-24, before Harrisburg ended with a 31-26 halftime lead.

"Once we got in a 5-on-5 situation with them, I began to like our situation," said Shreffler, who constantly mixed up his lineup. He got big help from Bosenbark and DeVonte Merritt and the Trojans were within striking distance.

Motichka hit two freebies and Tyler Riley hit a bucket at the outset of the third period and the CASHS Crazies were in a frenzy as the Trojans trailed 31-30 just 32 seconds into the second half.

But things began to unravel for Chambersburg.

The Trojans started missing layups in a flurry. Turnovers were critical at every juncture. Missed free throws continued to hinder the effort.

Down 40-36 with 3:03 left in the third, the final daggers set in as Harrisburg's Ricardo Brown hit two free throws and Division I prospect Alphonso Dawson finished the quarter with five points on two goals.

The Trojans didn't quit. Riley and Jamill Whitehead hit baskets and Aaron Hill followed with two free throws to cut the deficit to 47-43 with 6:37 left.

But Dawson and Laron Williams, another big-time potential, took over as Harrisburg quickly reached a 55-45 lead. Dawson and Williams had four goals each in crunch time as the Cougars finished the game with a 10-2 run.

"We had three keys before the game to reach," said Shreffler. "We had to rebound, take care of the ball and make free throws. We didn't do those things as well as we wanted."

The Trojans were beaten badly on the offensive boards, had 17 turnovers and ended 15 of 25 from the line and that included Motichka's 11 of 12 as part of his 18 points.

"We just couldn't get the ball in the hole," Shreffler said. "We gaves ourselves more of a chance than we have in the past against (Harrisburg). I hope we can take good things away from this and be ready Friday (against Central Dauphin)."

Whitehead added 12 points for Chambersburg, which ended 16 of 52 from the field. Merritt led the Trojans with eight points and Riley added four assists.

Dawson, a 6-3 junior, had 25 points and Williams, a 6-4 junior, had 24. Between the two, they were 22 of 39 from the floor as Harrisburg shot 59 percent (27 of 46) as a team.

"(Dawson) is a tough matchup and he's even gotten better from last year," said Shreffler.

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