On Tuesday, the Chambersburg boys basketball team took care of business in more ways than just the win-loss column.
Not only did it beat Mifflin County 56-39 in a Mid Penn Commonwealth Division boys basketball game, but built up such a lead that with 3:57 remaining Trojan coach Beau Gantz - knowing his team still had three games to play in the following four days - was able to rest his starters.
"That's monumental," Gantz said. "That we can come in and hold the lead against a team that was pretty disciplined - they move the ball around pretty well, the big guy (Seth Wagner) was pretty good - that was very important that we were able to rest our starters, so going into tomorrow we don't feel too bad."
In addition to saving the legs of players like Kellen Williams - who led Chambersburg with 17 points - Gantz had the luxury of seeing a better sample of how deep his bench is.
"Nothing takes the place of experience," said Gantz, able to play 10 different Trojans in the game. "You've got to get out there on the floor to be able to play the game."
Mitch Stahl, who had nine points, said, "It's important for our bench to be able to come off (and contribute), not only in the fourth quarter of a game when we're up by a good bit, but in a tight game when we need our bench to come in and give our starters a bit of a rest so we can come back into the game at full force."
To afford the bench extra minutes, Chambersburg (12-6, 7-5 MPC) matched Mifflin County's best effort early on. After Curtis Jerezerick and Wagner led the Huskies (6-11, 1-7 MPC) to a 9-2 lead, the Trojans sprung to 13-6 run to tie the score at 15 points after one quarter.
The second quarter was all Chambersburg, outscoring Mifflin County 15-2 for a 30-17 halftime lead - somewhat of an unusual luxury for a Trojan team more accustomed to fighting its way back from slow starts.
Evason Ogbonna benefited from the strong Chambersburg start, scoring all of his 14 points in the first half, and included an 8-of-9 free throw shooting performance.
"There's no doubt when he comes to play he makes a difference," Gantz said of the 6-foot-6 foot forward. "When he gets active and becomes acclimated, he's tough."
Ogbonna said, "I just wanted to play better than my previous games. I've been coming on a little slow so I just wanted to improve on that."
The Trojans had one of their better defensive efforts of the season.
"It was evident tonight that their defensive pressure, size and basketball toughness forced us out of any good offensive sets," Huskies coach Aaron Gingrich said. "It's difficult on an away court to score anyway, but especially against an athletic, big and talented Chambersburg team, which is I think what Beau has at this point in the season."
Ogbonna rounded out his offensive output by filling up the stat sheet defensively - leading Chambersburg with seven rebounds and five blocks, tying Stahl with two steals.
"Playing together with somebody knowing they have my back makes defense a lot easier," Stahl said of feeding off of Ogbonna's presence on defense. "It allows us to chase shots but stay out of foul trouble."
Mifflin County's Cy Treaster led the offense in the loss with 14 points, including two 3-pointers. Only three of his teammates scored in the game, though.
The Trojan bench exploded louder with 49 seconds left and ahead by 17 points than at any other point.
Off of a Chambersburg fast break, Trojan senior Sheldon Wenger dumped in a layup - the first points of his career - sending Stahl, Williams, Ogbonna and the rest of the bench into the air in celebration.
"Sheldon's always a favorite. He's the kind of player that everyone needs on their team," Gantz said. "He's a rah-rah guy - sort of like the class clown - but when he gets an opportunity to play he makes the best of his minutes and that's good. You never know down the stretch, we might have to use him. And the more experience he's got, the better off he is for us."
Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mifflin County 39
Cy Treaster 5 2-2 14, Curtis Jerzerick 5 0-0 10, Seth Wagner 4 1-2 11, Nate Koller 1 0-0 2, Jared Michaels 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 5-6 39.
Kellen Williams 6 5-6 17, Mitch Stahl 4 1-5 9, Evason Ogbonna 3 8-11 14, Tay Charles 2 0-0 5, Kyle Myers 1 1-2 3, Aaron Sollenberger 1 0-0 2, Carlin Christian 0 1-2 1, Stanley Flores 0 1-3 1, Ryan Martin 0 2-2 2, Sheldon Wenger 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 19-31 56.
Mifflin County 15 2 7 15 - 39
Chambersburg 15 15 13 13 - 56
3-point shots - MC 2 (Treaster 2); Chbg 1 (Charles). Shooting - Chbg 18-43 (41.8%). Rebounds - Chbg 26 (Ogbonna 7). Assists - Chbg 11 (Williams 5). Steals - Chbg 10 (Ogbonna, Stahl 2). Turnovers - 15. Blocked shots - 7 (Ogbonna 5).
JV: Chambersburg 36, Mifflin County 35. Daniel Flores put in a buzzer-beater layup to stun the Huskies. Louis Torres led the Trojans with 13 points.
Next game: Wednesday, at Central Daupin, 7:30.