It started with a failure to guard hot-shooting Harrisburg guard Donald Ralls in the second quarter. It continued during a late-game stretch that saw the Trojans play within three points of the lead over the final minute and a half. And it climaxed with a pair of missed free throws by Mitch Stahl with 22 seconds remaining and his team trailing by a point.
But what shouldn't be forgotten in Chambersburg's 55-52 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division loss at CASHS Field House was a valiant second-half effort against a more talented, skilled and ultimately better Harrisburg team.
It should stand as an important lesson in confidence for the Trojans, who remain on the bubble of the District 3 playoffs.
"I'm extremely proud of the team," Chambersburg coach Shawn Shreffler said. "I'm disappointed that we lost, but I'm not unhappy with our kids. The comeback they had in the second half was tremendous."
The comeback was keyed first by Harrisburg's sloppy play, second by a rejuvenated scoring touch for the Trojans. The Cougars committed eight turnovers in the third and quickly fell into foul trouble. By the time Chambersburg closed the gap to three points with 20 seconds remaining in the period, Harrisburg's hard-to-guard forward Chris Britton had picked up four fouls -- all of which came in the third quarter.
"I think we got a little lackadaiscal to start the second half," Harrisburg coach Kirk Smallwood said. "They did a good job of turning up the defense and they started making their shots. They're a good team and they're well-coached."
The Trojans outscored Harrisburg in each of the final two quarters, but couldn't overtake the Cougars' one-point lead in the final minute.
After A.J. Maun (19 points) hit two free throws to make it 52-51 with 1:04 remaining in the game, Nick Graham was whistled for a foul along the Chambersburg bench on the ensuing possession. That sent Ralls to the line, where he made 1 of 2 shots.
As the clock wound down, the game quickly shifted into Stahl's hands. He was fouled on Chambersburg's next possession and made 1 of 2 shots, bringing Harrisburg's lead to one point. But on his next opportunity at the line, with 22.4 seconds to go, Stahl missed both shots when he could have given the Trojans their first lead since the first quarter."This loss was a whole team thing," said Kellen Williams, who finished with 17 points for Chambersburg. "As a team, we turned the ball over in the first half and missed some key shots in the second half. It's a difficult loss. We know we played as hard as we could with a winning effort. We have two days to recuperate then get back to practice and have the same intensity in the next game."
When Britton opened the third quarter with a layup in the paint, he extended the Cougars' lead to 16 points -- their largest of the night.
But the Trojans responded with a 14-3 run and outscored Harrisburg 18-9 in the quarter. It was an important turnaround for Chambersburg both offensively and defensively after Ralls burned them for 14 points in the second quarter.
With big bodies like Britton, Domonique Lewis and Armando Gomez to account for inside, the Trojans collapsed their defense in the paint, leaving Ralls wide open on nearly all of his five first-half 3-pointers. Ralls finished with 23 points.
"Defensively, we wanted to make sure we were taking away the paint," Shreffler said. "Statistically, they haven't had anyone prove they could consistently knock down shots from the perimeter like that. We were playing the odds in that situation."
Ralls helped Harrisburg to a 33-19 halftime lead after both teams traded baskets in the first quarter. The Trojans had a pair of early leads before they fell behind for good on the fourth of Haiishen McIntyre's 12 points.
In a mixed-bag season for Chambersburg, Friday's game stands out for what could have been. It's a familiar refrain for a team that has consistently been unable to find a way to win the close games.
"We have seven games left and our goal is to go 7-0," Williams said. "If we go 7-0, we go to the playoffs and we're going to go far."
Mike Miller can be reached at 262-4788 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BowieMike.
Harrisburg 55, Chambersburg 52
Jerrell Patterson 1 1-3 4, Steven Stoney 3 3-5 9, Domonique Lewis 1 1-1 3, Haiishen McIntyre 5 2-2 12, Chris Britton 2 0-0 4, Armando Gomez 0 0-0 0, JaQuil Wright 0 0-0 0, Donald Ralls 8 1-2 23, Ashton Cooksey-Easter 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 8-13 55.
Quinn Oyler 0 0-0 0, Kellen Williams 6 3-4 17, A.J. Maun 6 4-4 19, Andrew Plank 0 0-0 0, Willy Sensenderfer 0 0-0 0, Mitch Stahl 1 1-6 3, Tay Charles 0 0-0 0, Keyon Shaffer 1 3-3 5, Aaron Sollenberger 1 2-2 5, Evason Ogbonna 1 1-2 3, Nick Graham 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 14-21 52.
Harrisburg 14 19 9 13 -- 55
Chambersburg9 10 18 15 -- 52
3-point shots -- Hbg 7 (Ralls 6, Patterson); Chbg 6-17 (Maun 3, Williams 2, Sollenberger). Shooting -- Chbg 16-38 (42%). Rebounds -- Chbg 26 (Stahl 7, Williams 6). Assists -- Chbg 14 (Oyler 4, Maun 4). Steals -- Chbg 10 (Charles 4). Turnovers -- Chbg 16. Blocked shots -- Chbg 2 (Maun, Stahl). Fouled out -- Oyler.
JV: Harrisburg 59, Chambersburg 34. Sheldon Wenger and J.T. Hopple led the Trojans with 8 points apiece.
Harrisburg 55, Chambersburg 52
Of note: A. J. Maun led the Trojans with 19 points ... Donald Ralls scored 23 points to lead the Cougars.
Records: Chambersburg (7-8, 3-6 MPC) travels to Cumberland Valley on Tuesday, 8 p.m. ... Harrisburg (11-3, 8-1 MPC) plays at Steel-High today, 12:30.