Joel Zola
Joel Zola
When Greencastle-Antrim and Gettysburg play Friday night, the championship of the Mid Penn Colonial Division will likely be on the line.

But thoughts of a title aren't on the mind of Blue Devil coach Gary Martin.

"We're going into tonight to win this game. Right now we're playing for one game - this is the most important one of season as far as I'm concerned," Martin said, "as was Southern Fulton the night before and Waynesboro the game before that."

The coach's mantra has worked of late.

Greencastle (12-2, 6-1 MPC) and Gettysburg (13-4, 8-0 MPC) last met on Dec. 17, when the Warriors pulled out a 57-54 overtime win at home. That's the last game the Blue Devils have lost, so they are bringing a nine-game winning streak into tonight's rematch.

Home-court advantage will be on Greencastle's side in the second chapter between the Colonial rivals. If the game is anything like December's meeting, who wins could be decided by a few late-game plays.

Martin isn't looking for his boys to digress from their usual attack just because the Warriors are in town, though.

"We'll come out with our game plan. We're heading into game 15 and feel like we're playing good basketball," Martin said. "We have a few wrinkles we've been working on throughout, but nothing specifically for them. We've added to our (offensive and defensive) arsenal throughout the season. We expect to be better, and for them to be better."

One area the Blue Devils hope to show improvement this time around is at the game's start.

In the Gettysburg defeat, G-A trailed 31-24 by halftime and needed to outscore the Warriors 19-11 in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

The Blue Devils will look to senior center Brandon Puffenbarger to make a difference.

Greencastle's leading scorer, Joel Zola - who had 15 points in Gettysburg - is averaging 19.1 points per game and is expected to find the basket as usual. Veteran point guard Zach Faulkner - healthy after missing a pair of games with an injury - had six points and four assists. Sharp-shooter Holden Baker sent home two 3-pointers and had 10 points against the Warriors.

Puffenbarger - Greencastle's 6-foot-10 option in the paint - registered only four points in the loss.

Since then he's picked up his scoring - averaging 9.1 points in the last eight games.

If "Puff" can continue his hot play of late, the Blue Devils should be in good shape to extend their win streak to double-digits.

"I like to think he can play a big role in this game with blocked shots, rebounds and scoring," Martin said. "We'd like to see him play more defense than (he did) the first time around, but we look for him to play a huge role."

Greencastle will key its defensive focus on Trey Thomas. The 6-5 junior led the Warriors to victory with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Ben Kroll, another of Gettysburg's top scorers, played only 17 minutes last time - fouling out with 2:22 left in regulation - a luxury the Blue Devils can't rely on replicating a second time.

Cody Kiefer helped pick up the slack for Gettysburg by scoring 15 points. Now 34 points from 1,000, Kiefer would likely need a few extra frames to take care of that tonight - not that overtime would be a new sight to this matchup.

Martin plans to show Gettysburg's top scorers multiple defenses - just like last time.

"If someone's doing something - shooting really hot - we'll mix and match as we did in that game," Martin said.

Even if the Blue Devils find themselves down early again, Martin says he's confident in the team's chances to come back and win a close game. In five games decided by five or fewer points this season, Greencastle has found the win column three times.

-----

Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or jkolb@publicopinionnews.com.

-----

Warriors-Blue Devils at a glance

Game data: Gettysburg Warriors at Greencastle-Antrim Blue Devils Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Greencastle Mid Penn Colonial Division game.

Media: Follow @liziarbogast for live tweets from the game ... Livestream: www.GameTimePa.com, or www.publicopiniononline.com Webcast: www.midpennbroadcasting.com, or fmtrustonline.com

Teams: The Warriors, No. 5 in the District 3 Class AAA power rankings, are 13-4 (8-0 MPC) G-A is 12-2 (6-1 MPC) and is No. 3 in the rankings.

Series: Gettysburg won in December, 57-54 in overtime.

P.O. pick: Gettysburg by 2.