Cedar Crest s Killian Klopp motors down the court ahead of Chambersburg defender Tay Charles on Wednesday night during a District Three first-round game.
Cedar Crest s Killian Klopp motors down the court ahead of Chambersburg defender Tay Charles on Wednesday night during a District Three first-round game. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS RYAN BLACKWELL)
CHAMBERSBURG - Defense first.

That's been the motto of the Chambersburg boys' basketball team all season long, and Wednesday night it paid off in a big way.

The Trojans faced Cedar Crest in the opening round of the District Three Class AAAA playoffs, and Chambersburg used a tough pressure defense in the fourth quarter to hold off the Falcons, 40-37.

Next up for Chambersburg (15-8) is a quarterfinal matchup with York (23-2), a 74-66 winner over Hempfield, at the Giant Center at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Falcons finished 16-10.

"For some reason, the first two quarters, we just let them do what they wanted to do," Chambersburg coach Beau Gantz said. "Come the fourth quarter, I said it's come heck or high water now. You win or go home, and in the fourth, we started double teaming them, pulled that full-court press (off a missed free throw) and caught them by surprise with a steal."

Despite holding their largest lead of the night, 36-29, with five minutes remaining, the Trojans allowed the Falcons to claw back in it.

The near comeback was led by Andrew Eudy, who finished the game with 22 points, including eight in the fourth quarter and six in the final two minutes.

"I just never thought we were out of it," Eudy said. "It was very important for me to step up my game on offense."

At the last second, it looked as if the Falcons could send it to overtime when Chambersburg had a costly turnover near midcourt. Cedar Crest got the ball into the hands of Evan Horn, who threw up a well-timed 3-pointer at the buzzer that just barely rimmed out.

The biggest issue for Chambersburg down the stretch was another game of poor free throw shooting. It was 8-of-14 from the line - all of its charity shots came in the fourth.

Luckily, the Trojans had built up a large enough lead off four consecutive forced turnovers to seal the victory.

"We actually started to press them off our missed free throws," Chambersburg guard Mitch Stahl said. "Tay (Charles), Kellen (Williams) and Kyle (Myers) really did a great job up top with their ball handlers, putting the pressure on them and making them throw long passes."

The Falcons' leading scorers, Killian Klopp and Clay Penchard, were held to seven and five points, respectively. But Eudy filled that void with his 22 points, four rebounds and five blocks.

"He did a fine job offensively, and he played a tough job defensively as well," Cedar Crest coach Tom Smith said. "Stahl is a talented kid, and I thought Andrew did a nice job on him, and he scored on the offensive side as well. He really kept us in the game."

Eudy's ability was never more apparent than in the second quarter, when the 6-foot-6 junior went on an eight-point run all on his own to give the Falcons a 17-16 lead at halftime.

The Falcons  Evan Horn defends the Trojans  Kellen Williams on Wednesday night in Chambersburg.
The Falcons Evan Horn defends the Trojans Kellen Williams on Wednesday night in Chambersburg. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS RYAN BLACKWELL)

Stahl started the game on fire for the Trojans. He scored a team-high 16 points, and eight came in the first quarter alone. He had three assists and contributed to all 16 of the Trojans' first-half points.

"I knew I had to come out strong and just pull them into the paint," Stahl said. "They had the same style of play as Mechanicsburg, and I knew I could use my quickness to get around them. My teammates were getting me the ball, and I just went to work."

Stahl also earned a team-high three blocks. His momentum helped carry Chambersburg as leading-scorer Williams did not score in the first half.

After trailing by one heading into the locker room, Gantz said he needed Williams' leadership, and the senior took that to heart. In the third quarter, Williams scored six points and had three steals.

"They knew Kellen is our scorer; who doesn't know that?" Stahl said. "He's one of the best players in our district, so he was getting double-teamed. But in the third quarter, he really found his groove and sparked us."

The Trojans plan to use the defensive strides they made in the fourth quarter Wednesday and apply that to a full 32-minute game.

"Our game plan tonight was to pressure them the whole game," Gantz said. "We have to get them out of their comfort zone for a full four quarters."