GREENCASTLE, Pa. — The Greencastle boys basketball team, usually accustomed to getting out to an early lead, found itself in an unusual situation when Susquehanna Township reeled off the game’s first 10 points.
But the Blue Devils turned up their defense and claimed a 69-59 victory Monday night to remain undefeated.
“We ran the same defense,” said Greencastle coach Gary Martin, “We were just a little more aggressive. We were just a step behind and it was a matter of cutting things off better.
“We did show that if we don’t get off to a good start, we can come back and win.”
The improved defense began to assert itself midway through the second period, forcing six straight Indians turnovers, while propelling Greencastle (9-0) to a 31-28 lead. Susquehanna’s Joseph Marshall canned a 3-pointer with two seconds left to knot things at 31 at the half.
The critical play, however, may have occurred midway through the second quarter when Susquehanna’s Jonas Page injured his knee on a fast break and did not return. At 6-foot-4, Page had scored eight of the Indians’ 24 points.
“When (Page) went down, that was huge,” Martin said. “He looked like he just landed awkwardly on his knee. You hate to see that, but I’m glad we didn’t hit him on the play.”
Behind seven points from Joel Zola, the Blue Devils reeled of 14 of the first 17 points in the third period and led Susquehanna (5-4) by 13 points entering the final eight minutes.
But the Indians weren’t done. Within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Susquehanna closed the margin to 55-47. It used six points — all off offensive rebounds — by Shaquon Sheppard to stay within 65-59 with 2:10 left.
Greencastle foul trouble made things more difficult down the stretch, as Zola, Corey Meyers and point guard Zach Faulkner played with four fouls each in the final two minutes. Zola’s presence inside was especially important against the quick-leaping Indians.
Greencastle’s Denver Cordell led all scorers with 20 points, while Meyers with 17 and Zola added 12 and Faulkner 10. The Blue Devils’ defense forced 31 Susquehanna turnovers. Greencastle shot 22 of 42 (52 percent) from the floor.
Marshall paced the Indians with 17 points.
Greencastle 69Susquehanna Township 59
SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP (5-4)
Williams 2, Brim 3, Turner 5, McCurther 10, Marshall 17, Sheppard 10, Page 8, Dunbar 4, Totals 21 13-16 59.
Faulkner 10, Denver Cordell 20, Fridgen 2, Zola 12, Meyers 17, Denton Cordell 7, Szaflarski 1, Totals 22 19-29 69.
Susquehanna 16 15 9 17 — 59
Greencastle 8 23 22 16 — 69
3-point goals — Susquehanna 2 (Turner, Marshall). Greencastle 6 (Denver Cordell 3, Denton Cordell, Meyers 2). Fouled out — Dunbar. JV — Susquehanna, 69-28 (ST: Jahaad Proctor 28; GA: John Young 7).