When Spring Grove High senior Matt Kline stepped to the free-throw line with five-tenths of a second remaining in the game and the score tied at 54, the job was easy -- do what he does every day in practice.
The result, however, would be something the Rockets were not accustomed to.
When the first of his two free throws splashed through the net, he knew their odds were good. After he intentionally missed the second and the clock expired, it became a reality.
The Rockets (1-9) had just won their first varsity game in more than a season, 55-54 against Waynesboro.
An elated Kline said, "I was pretty excited. Who knows how long it's been since we've won? It feels great."
How Spring Grove, which ended a 33-game skid since the 2010-11 season, got to the position of Kline on the free-throw line with a chance to win the game was quite peculiar.
Spring Grove's Logan Hagerman was at the line shooting two free throws with his team down one. He drained the first one to tie the game but missed the second. Waynesboro got the rebound and Shaquill Smith was immediately fouled by the Rockets.
So Smith stood at the line with a chance to give his team the lead with 13.6 seconds remaining. However, the guard, who finished the night tied for the team high in points with 14, missed both free throws. Spring Grove rebounded his second miss and called a timeout with 8.5 seconds remaining.
"First we had a play set up to get the ball to Logan in the corner," Rocket head coach Ryan Luckman said. "If nothing was there, we were going to get the ball to Darrien (Gaskins) to go one-on-one."
Hagerman was not open in the corner so Gaskins received the inbound pass, dribbled to the free-throw line and pulled up for a jumper. The ball caromed off the rim and into the hands of Kline, who was immediately fouled.
"I never thought we would get the offensive rebound," Luckman said. "He made the one, and missed the second one intentionally. I feel so good for our guys, especially our seniors."
The senior class had not won a game in three years, having gone winless in its sophomore season on junior varsity, winless on varsity last year and were off to an 0-9 start this season prior to Wednesday.
Waynesboro dominated the boards in the first half as the Indians took a 30-27 lead into the locker room. Despite the lead and numerous easy second-chance points, Waynesboro missed 11 layups in the first half, which had to leave the Indians shaking their heads at what the lead could have been.
Spring Grove came out in the second half and played much tighter defense, battled on the boards and never allowed Waynesboro to get in sync on the offensive side of the floor. Spring Grove also drained four threes to get back into the game.
"We kind of questioned them about how tough we are going to be on the ball," Luckman said. "We talked to them about starting to step up and take some charges. In the first half, they just kept going to the right on us. In the second half, the kids did a good job of adjusting defensively."
Tim Ingram and Smith each scored a team-high 14 points for Waynesboro (3-6).
It is a win that tastes very sweet for the Rockets.
"It was a total team effort tonight," Hagerman, who scored a game-high 19 points, said. "Everyone contributed. This feels awesome. It is definitely a relief."
"Amazing," Kline added. "It is like the monkey is off our back now."
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