MCCONNELLSBURG >> Up by a point with less than two minutes to go, McConnellsburg knew the pressure was squarely on its shoulders.
Spartan guard Chase Novak sent a pass to Landon Richards beyond the arc, and he yelled at Richards not to take the shot.
But Richards was hot, and he knew it. So he got his feet set, threw the ball up and watched it sail into the basket.
"Every time he was open, I just kept passing to him and yelled 'Hit it!' ... almost every time," Novak said. "But that three when we were up by one, I actually yelled "No!" that time. But he hit it anyway, and we were so fired up."
McConnellsburg rode that momentum to hold off Shade for a 47-42 victory in the first round of the District 5 Class A boys basketball playoffs Monday night.
"Landon making that three – I don't know if that was the game-winning play, but it was huge," McConnellsburg coach Dane Pollock said. "He's been struggling, but I kept on him, trying to give him some confidence. I kept telling him that there are bigger games, and I guess he made up his mind to do the biggest thing in the biggest game."
The No. 4 Spartans (17-6) will face No. 1-seeded Southern Fulton (23-1) in the semifinals on Wednesday at Bedford at 7 p.m. Shade finishes the season 12-11.
"We had a two-point lead with about four minutes to go, and they hit a couple 3-pointers on second-chance opportunities," Panther coach Wade Fyock said. "I think it was a game of missed opportunities. I'm very satisfied with the effort my guys put in, but we missed some foul shots and some layups, and in close games, you can't do that."
Shade was never out of the game; McConnellsburg's largest lead was just seven points and it didn't last long. Novak hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half to push the Spartan advantage to 28-21, but back-to-back layups from Aaron Fyock and Corey Mains brought it right back to three points.
"They were getting us in transition," Pollock said. "We thought we could offensively rebound better than what we did, but the problem is we were sending all these guys to the glass, and when you don't get the rebound, then they're breaking out the other way."
Shade even took a one-point lead into the final quarter, but after Richards hit consecutive 3-pointers, Novak went 4 of 6 from the line down the stretch to ensure the victory.
"In the first half, I had a horrible shooting percentage, and nothing was falling," Novak said. "I got to the rim a little bit more in the second half, and got to the foul line at the end of the game, so that helped, too."
The first half was a seesaw affair in which there were four lead changes and three ties, but McConnellsburg walked into the locker room with a 22-18 lead. The Spartans got a big spark from senior Tyrelle White, who finished with the game's only double-double. He totaled 10 points and 12 rebounds and racked up eight of each in the opening half.
"We actually for once were taller than a team we played," White said. "We still had to box out and hustle, but I just tried to do what I could to get the team up. Normally when we go into halftime leading, we can finish the game with a win."
Pollock said, "Tyrelle wanted this game more than anybody in this gym. He knew he was going to be one of the bigger guys on the court tonight, so we wanted to get the ball down in to him and let him finish. I thought he did a really nice job."
NOTES >> Novak finished as the Spartans' leading scorer with 14 points, while Richards followed with 13 points, including four 3-pointers ... Jeremy Pyles led Shade with 17, and Mains contributed 13 ... McConnellsburg out-rebounded the Panthers, 30-24, and had just 12 turnovers, compared to 16 for Shade.
Aaron Fyock 1 1-4 3, Jeremy Pyles 6 1-2 17, Chase Kiser 0 0-0 0, Corey Mains 6 1-2 13, Johnny Mauger 3 2-3 9, Dylan Valine 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 16 5-11 42.
Tyrelle White 5 0-0 10, Jake Boehme 2 0-0 5, Quintin Miller 1 1-2 3, Ryan Koontz 0 0-0 0, Chase Novak 4 4-6 14, Ian Cheatle 1 0-0 2, Landon Richards 4 1-2 13.
Totals — 17 6-10 47.
3-point goals — Shade 3 (Pyles 2, Mauger), McC 7 (Richards 4, Novak 2, Boehme).