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A real Devil of a time

Defense haunts JB; Greenca stle gets its due, AAA final berth

Defense haunts JB; Greenca stle gets its due, AAA final berth

March 21, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - You would expect a senior to come to the forefront in a game that had as much at stake as the one Tuesday night between Greencastle and James Buchanan did.

It was just a matter of which senior and from what team.

Jaren Gembe scored the final five points to catapult Greencastle to a 38-34 victory over James Buchanan in the PIAA Class AAA state semifinals and a berth in the championship game on Friday at 8 p.m., against General McLane at Penn State University's Bryce Jordan Center.

Gembe's backdoor cut for a bucket answered a score by JB's Shane Rife and gave the Blue Devils a 35-34 lead with 3:54 remaining. The senior followed with three free throws in the final 1:57 to seal the victory in the fourth meeting of the season between the Franklin County rivals.

"The atmosphere tonight was just awesome," said Gembe, who led the Blue Devils (20-11) with 12 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. "I thought (in the end) I needed to get the ball in my hands."

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More than 2,500 fans watched a first half in which James Buchanan (26-5) had a 26-23 lead as Rife scored 11 points and Dion Lehman had nine.

However, Greencastle coach Garon Gembe made a switch to a zone defense to begin the second half - one that frustrated the Rockets and held them to eight points in the second half.

"We went to the zone to for three reasons," said Garon Gembe. "We had to protect Jordan (three first-half personals), keep the ball out of Rife's hands and eliminate Dion from penetrating."

Those factors worked and the Blue Devils kept JB off the board for all but one minute in the third period and 2 1/2 in the fourth.

Dameatric Scott and Ty Thrush opened the third period with buckets that gave G-A a 27-26 lead and Gembe's steal made it 29-26 with 4:09 to go. Jordan Gembe had two free throws before JB closed out the third with goals by Josh McCauley and Lehman.

Scott gave Greencastle a 33-30 lead on a bucket to open the fourth period before Brandon Bryan scored, later followed by a Rife goal that put the Rockets back on top 34-33 with 4:12 remaining.

"(Greencastle) used a 1-2-2 zone and mirrored us," said Rife. "It was a great zone and they executed it."

Bryan, averaging 18.6 points per game, was held to four points and hit 2 of 11, just part of JB's overall 16 of 52 showing (30.8 percent).

"There's no excuses," said Bryan. "I had a lot of hands in my face."

Greencastle fared a bit better from the field, hitting 13 of 40 for 32.5 percent. The Blue Devils had the advantage at the stripe, hitting 8 of 11 compared to 1 of 3 for JB.

"All these kids were playing the toughest game of their lives. I'd think it might, too, have been tough to shoot," said Garon Gembe.

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