GETTYSBURG - The Chambersburg boys basketball team almost let another one slip away.
The Trojans led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter of Thursday night's opening round of the Gettysburg Holiday Tournament against the host team.
After the Warriors pulled within three, Chambersburg had to rely on its stellar free throw shooting to secure a 64-58 victory.
With the victory, Chambersburg advanced to the championship game to be played Friday at 8. The Trojans will face Delone Catholic, which beat Northeastern, 64-48.
"That was really important because we have a bad habit of when we get a lead, we kind of stop playing and stop trying to score on offense," Trojan senior Kellen Williams said. "We need to break out of that habit because good teams are going to beat us if we keep doing that."
The Trojans (5-3) held Gettysburg to just 12 points in the first half. Their defense played impeccably in the first 16 minutes, allowing just two players - Cody Kiefer and Trey Thomas - to score a field goal.
"We had good looks, but nobody could get a shot," Gettysburg coach Jeff Bair said. "We wanted to limit their offensive rebounding, which we didn't do, and we wanted to limit their scoring, which we didn't do."
After the first half, the game was a different story for both teams. Gettysburg (8-1) scored 46 points in the second half alone.
"We usually don't give up 46 points in a game," Chambersburg coach Beau Gantz said. "We're averaging 44.1 points against, and we gave up 46 points in one half. We got comfortable and just quit playing."
The Trojans outscored Gettysburg in the third quarter and continued to add to that in the fourth. Just two minutes into the final frame, Chambersburg had its largest lead of the night - 47-34. But then the Warriors started to chip away at it. They went on a 10-point scoring run to pull with three points before Williams took matters into his own hands.
While Williams was going in for a layup, a foul was called against Gettysburg, then the player used foul language and was hit with a technical foul.
Williams sank all four charity shots and, on the ensuing possession, hit a deep 3-pointer to bring the lead back up to double digits.
The rest of Chambersburg's scoring was done from the free throw line. Gantz, who had been harping on the Trojans' poor free throw percentage, knew that number made a big difference in Thursday's game.
"Luckily for us, tonight we made our free throws," Gantz said. "I told them we're going to throw the old ones away, act like they don't count. Tonight, we came out well. But again, if we didn't make those free throws, it's a different game."
The Trojans were 24-for-28 from the line, and 14 of their 27 points in the final quarter were on free throws.
"We were all kind of shocked that we shot that well," Williams said. "I guess we're just getting more confident. We go to the line thinking we're going to make both."
The Warriors weren't too shabby from the line, either, shooting 15-for-18. But they were unable to make any headway into the final quarter. Kiefer led Gettysburg with a double-double (22 points, 15 rebounds), and Thomas followed with 15 points. The Trojans' held one of Gettysburg's top scorers - Ben Kroll - to just six points.
"We knew that (Kroll) was going to be very aggressive," Gantz said. "We tried to let that aggressiveness be his weakness. We got up in his face, and Tay (Charles) is pretty quick, so he made him do some things he wasn't comfortable doing."
Chambersburg's offensive strategy seemed to be working much better Thursday. The Trojans scored their most points in a game since the season opener, and three players were in double digits. Williams led with 21 points and pulled down 15 rebounds; Evason Ogbonna had 17 points, including four putbacks; and Charles added 10.
"I'm trying to get different players involved always," said Charles, a senior point guard. "I'll attack and try to kick it out if I can. We know we can score with multiple people, so I'm just trying to do that."
Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tay Charles 2 6-6 10, Kyle Myers 2 0-0 4, Kellen Williams 5 7-9 21, Evason Ogbonna 7 5-6 17, Mitch Stahl 1 2-3 6, Ryan Martin 1 2-2 4, Carlin Christian 0 0-0 0, Aaron Sollenberger 0 2-2 2. Totals 18 24-28 64.
Ben Kroll 2 2-3 6, Colin Bortner 2 0-0 5, Cody Kiefer 7 7-8 22, Trey Thomas 5 5-6 15, Tyler Lampe 3 1-1 7, Brett Crushong 0 0-0 0, Jeremiah Colbert 0 0-0 0, Jason Nye 0 0-0 0, Jon Tarbox 0 0-0 0, Jordan Nye 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 15-18 58.
Chambersburg 10 12 15 27 - 64
Gettysburg 5 7 12 34 - 58
3-point shots - Chbg 2 (Williams 2); Get 3 (Bortner, Kiefer, Jo.Nye). Shooting - Chbg 18-47 (38.3%); Get 20-52 (38.5%). Rebounds - Chbg 34 (Williams 15, Ogbonna 8); Get 26 (Kiefer 15). Turnovers - Chbg 12; Get 14. Fouled out - Kroll.
JV: Delone Catholic 63, Chambersburg 48.
Next game: Friday, vs. Delone Catholic in Gettysburg Holiday Tournament championship game, 8.