By being outscored 15-8 in the third period, Chambersburg let Reading claw back and the Red Knights eventually claimed a 53-47 victory in a consolation game.
"It was frustrating trying to get the offense going because everyone wasn't really wanting the ball except Kellen (Williams)," Trojan point guard Tay Charles said. "Things just fell apart. We had 11 turnovers in the second half, so that's just ridiculous."
With the victory, Reading (15-13) will face Carlisle (14-11) on Thursday in the fifth-place game, while Chambersburg (15-10) will have to fight it out with Cumberland Valley (14-11) to punch its ticket to states. The game is at Northern York H.S. on Thursday at 8 p.m.
The Trojans were leading 32-25 when they went into the locker room, but six third-quarter turnovers made it very difficult to keep that lead. The Red Knights took advantage and went on a 10-2 run in the third to knot the score at 40 with one period remaining.
"They came out with intensity in the third quarter, and we just didn't match it," Chambersburg coach Beau Gantz said. "The first half, we were getting the ball inside, but second half, we come out and act like it's all new to us. We've had inconsistency all year."
Reading's leading scorer, Gil Benz-Puente, got into foul trouble early in the third, but Zhykeir Burdine stepped up in a big way. The 6-foot-1 guard knocked down three 3-pointers in the third, including the one that tied the score with 40.2 seconds left in the stanza. He finished the game with 23 points.
Burdine said, "Phew, it was big because Gil is a big part of our team; he scores a lot, but I just had to step up and hit my shots. Today I was blessed. My teammates were setting some good screens, and I was just hitting wide-open shots. I can't ask for anything more."
In the fourth quarter, the teams each scored six points from the field, but Reading got to the line nine times and hit all but two. The Trojans were 1-for-2 from the line in the final stretch.
Defense also played a big factor in Reading's second-half comeback. The Knights had previously allowed 32 points, but held Chambersburg to just 15 in the latter half. The defense's ability to take Williams out of the third quarter was huge. Williams scored 16 points in the first two periods; in the third, he hit just two free throws.
"We just needed to make sure we contested every shot that he had," Reading coach Rick Perez said. "We wanted to have a first line of defense that was cutting his drives in the lane, so he couldn't get as deep into our defense. Everybody was focused on where he was."
Williams still managed to outscore the rest of his team. The senior finished the game with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, and was 2-for-2 from the line. He also had a game-high five blocks and was the only Trojan to score a field goal in the fourth quarter.
"We were moving the ball around well and getting Kellen looks at the bucket," Gantz said. "He was playing very well, knocking down some threes."
The next-highest point contributers for Chambersburg were Evason Ogbonna and Mitch Stahl, who each netted nine. Reading, on the other hand, had two others in double figures - Jalan Brandford and Benz-Puente each scored 10.
"We have so many scoring options," Perez said. "(Babatundé) Waples made great decisions down the stretch; Jalan did a good job rebounding, and I think it was just a good team effort."
Chambersburg and Cumberland Valley split a pair of games during the regular season. The first was won by the Eagles at the buzzer, while the Trojans took the second game, 51-48. On Thursday, it'll be both teams' last-ditch effort at getting to states.
"It'll be a dogfight, but if we don't find that one person who is willing to step up and take charge when things get tight, it'll be the same thing all over again," Gantz said. "It doesn't matter how far we get out to a lead, as soon as they make a basket or two, we start to panic. We just can't do that."
Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jalan Brandford 4 2-4 10, Babatundé Waples 1 1-4 3, Zhykeir Burdine 6 6-6 23, Tyree Gibson 2 1-2 5, Gil Benz-Puente 5 0-0 10, Iseal Abreu 1 0-0 2, Francisco Reyes 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 10-16 53.
Tay Charles 0 3-4 3, Kyle Myers 1 0-0 2, Ryan Martin 0 0-0 0, Kellen Williams 9 2-2 24, Mitch Stahl 4 1-2 9, Evason Ogbonna 4 1-2 9, Carlin Christian 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 7-10 47.
Reading 11 14 15 13 - 53
Chambersburg 17 15 8 7 - 47
3-point shots - Read 5 (Burdine 5); Chbg 4 (Williams 4). Shooting - Read 19-42 (45.2%); Chbg 18-44 (40.9%). Rebounds - Read 24 (Gibson 6); Chbg 25 (Martin 7). Assists - Read 7 (Waples 2); Chbg 8 (Charles, Stahl 2). Steals - Read 4 (Waples 2); Chbg 3 (Myers 2). Turnovers - Read 12; Chbg 15. Blocked shots - Chbg 8 (Williams 5).
Next game: Thursday, vs. Cumberland Valley, at TBA.