Friday night got off to a bumpy start for Greencastle-Antrim, but the Blue Devils pulled together for a 75-63 win over an athletic Broadfording Lions team in the first round of the Richard S. Doub Tournament.
"I'm going to blame a lot of (our slow start) on our delay getting here," said Greencastle coach Gary Martin about the team bus getting lost on its way to Williamsport, Md. "It was a 20-minute bus ride that took about an hour and 20."
The Blue Devils will face Williamsport in the championship on Saturday at 7.
Despite getting extra time to warm up and 18 first-half points from Joel Zola, G-A led the Lions by just four at intermission. Martin knew even when that lead became eight after three quarters, his team still hadn't completely found its step.
"The third quarter - when it ended - you could see the guys' legs were finally coming alive," Martin said. "Before you knew it, we ended up turning a six-point lead into a 20-point lead."
After Mo Sallah started the fourth quarter by slamming in an easy dunk for the Lions that cut the deficit to 52-44, Greencastle powered on a 15-to-3 run that saw five different Blue Devils score.
Zola finally had help. Through three quarters he'd scored 22 points to the rest of the team's 26. But the Blue Devils saved their best quarter for last, netting 27 points - only five of which came from Zola.
"I think we definitely started to play harder," said Blue Devil point guard Zach Faulkner, who led G-A with seven assists to go with 11 points. "We came out a little slow, so I think picking up the intensity definitely helped."
While its offensive mojo was MIA, Greencastle maintained a lead with solid team defense.
"We tried to give them one shot and out," Martin said. "We didn't let their big guys get a lot of rebounds and putbacks; it was mostly one and out."
"It was definitely our defensive rebounding," Zola said. "We played good defense and we stopped Mo (Sallah) a little bit and we got the win."
G-A never quite stopped Sallah, who sunk 10 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
"I wanted to guard him, but you have to do what you're told," Zola said.
"Joel would have fouled him all night," Martin said. "He was too willing to take that challenge and we said no, and kept him on the perimeter where he had an advantage since he can shoot and get to the basket."
Greencastle's 6-foot-10 Brandon Puffenbarger also got help covering the 6-7 Sallah by Austin Scott (10 points).
Lions coach Bernie Clutz didn't have a solution for Zola.
"We asked Cisco Silva to take Joel," Clutz said. "But (Zola's) first step was much too quick for us. We couldn't handle it and we didn't have weakside help."
Puffenbarger came into the night with an added motivation to win - his younger brother Chris is a freshman guard for the Lions. The younger Puffenbarger won the scoring battle 5-2, but the senior center from Greencastle walked away with the victory.
Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or email@example.com.
Zach Faulkner 4 3-5 11, Wayne Kline 0 0-0 0, Holden Baker 3 3-4 12, Samuel Sprague 0 5-6 5, Austin Scott 3 4-4 10, Eli Englehart 0 0-0 0, Jeremiah Barber 1 0-2 2, Danny Stepler 1 2-2 4, Matt Montedoro 1 0-0 2, Joel Zola 11 4-5 27, Brandon Puffenbarger 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 21-28 75.
Anderson 2 0-0 6, Daniels 4 3-6 12, Price 0 1-2 1, M.Cradduck 0 4-4 4, Puffenbarger 2 0-0 5, Silva 2 5-8 9, Sallah 9 8-10 26. Totals 19 21-30 63.
Greencastle 22 13 13 27 - 75
Broadfording 15 16 11 21 - 63
3-point shots - GA 4 (Baker 3, Zola); Brd 4 (Anderson 2, Daniels, Puffenbarger). Rebounds - GA 23 (Scott 6); Brd 32 (Sallah, Silva 11). Assists - GA 16 (Faulkner 7). Turnovers - GA 11, Brd 27.
Other game: Williamsport 51, Mountain Ridge 30.
Next game: Saturday, in Richard Doub Tournament championship vs. Williamsport, 7.