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Greencastle's improbable run continues

March 18, 2007|by CHRIS CARTER

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - The Greencastle-Antrim boys basketball team faced an early 13-point deficit against the top-ranked team in PIAA Class AAA, which had won 23 straight games heading into Saturday afternoon.

But even that couldn't faze the Blue Devils.

No stranger to adversity, Greencastle shook off a slow start and became relentless on both ends of the floor as it shocked West York 60-58 in the state quarterfinals at Gettysburg High School.

"We just keep believing," said Greencastle coach Garon Gembe. "We got down double digits in the first quarter, but we knew we had the whole game to play. We thought if we could get to 60, we had a chance."

Sixty turned out to be just enough.

Jordan Gembe hit a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to give the Blue Devils a 60-57 lead. West York cut the score to 60-58 when Rob Estep hit the front end of a 1-and-1. He missed the second shot, sparking a mad scramble for the ball. Estep finally came up with it in the backcourt before a timeout was called.

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Out of the break, West York's Dane Lauber drove to the hoop but was met by Dameatric Scott, who disrupted the shot before it went out of bounds with 0.9 seconds left. With their last chance, the Bulldogs inbounded the ball directly to Josh Koht underneath the basket, but his point-blank layup rimmed out and Greencastle survived.

"I thought they got a wide-open layup with 0.9 seconds left and we were going to overtime," Garon Gembe said.

Instead, the Blue Devils (19-11) knocked off a higher seed for the third straight game in the state tournament. They will need to do it once more when they face rival James Buchanan in the state semifinals Tuesday night.

"It's pretty awesome," said Jordan Gembe, who hit three 3s and finished with 15 points. "We feel like we can play with anyone in the state."

Scott led Greencastle with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jaren Gembe scored 11. Treavor Gelsinger had three steals and reserve Greg Hamms had seven rebounds.

"One of the things I want us to understand is that we only won one basketball game," Garon Gembe said. "We just have to keep playing and we can't get caught up in our emotions."

West York (29-4) hit seven of its first nine shots - all in the paint - to open the game. Lauber slashed through the lane for four easy baskets as the Bulldogs took a 16-3 lead.

After a timeout, Greencastle finally came to life on Scott's conventional three-point play, followed by treys by Jordan Gembe and Jaren Gembe to close the gap to 16-12.

But Lauber added another layup and a free throw to give West York a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Lauber scored 11 in the period.

"We were down a little bit, but anyone can make layups," said Jaren Gembe, who helped hold Lauber to just two points over the final three quarters. "(Lauber) was getting easy layups. We just had to keep him away from the ball and keep battling."

Meanwhile, Greencastle continued to cut into its early deficit and finally pushed ahead when Scott found Jordan Gembe for a fast-break layup and a 30-29 advantage. The Blue Devils took a 34-33 lead into halftime.

"Coach told us we could match up very well with them," said Scott. "We just had to stay in the game, make some open shots and get to the rim."

The second half featured four ties and 12 lead changes and the margin never grew to more than six points. West York broke out of the gates and scored the first seven points of the third quarter for a 40-34 advantage.

But Greencastle remained resilient and answered with its own 7-0 run to regain the lead at 41-40 with 2:46 remaining in the period. Jordan Gembe's 3 with three seconds left tied the game at 46-46 going into the final period.

"Athletically, at least, we were even with them," Garon Gembe said. "We just had to make sure we didn't get beat."

Ty Thrush's transition layup and ensuing free throw put Greencastle ahead 49-46 at the start of the fourth quarter. The lead changed six times over the last six minutes - never exceeding two points - and Jaren Gembe's layup with 1:50 left gave the Blue Devils the lead for good at 58-57.

Scott hauled in seven rebounds and blocked two shots in the deciding fourth quarter.

"I told Dameatric, 'You're going to win this game on the inside,'" Garon Gembe said. "He was a presence in there and came up big."

Estep led West York with 19 points and eight rebounds, Jordan Cable scored 15 and Lauber finished with 13.

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