HERSHEY >> Trailing 36-31 midway through the fourth quarter, Greencastle-Antrim's girls basketball team needed a spark.
Jenay Faulkner was up to the challenge.
Faulkner scored five straight points to ignite a 9-0 Blue Devil run, and Greencastle pulled off an upset over previously unbeaten No. 1 seed West York in a District 3 Class AAA semifinal on Wednesday at Giant Center in Hershey.
No. 4 Greencastle (23-3) will face No. 7 Conrad Weiser (20-7) in the District 3-AAA final on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at Giant Center. The two schools also faced each other in the District 3 Class AA girls soccer final in the fall.
"I think we got them out of their element a little bit," Greencastle coach Mike Rhine said. "They're so used to winning by 30 points, we figured if we could stay within striking distance, we could make a late run and pull out a win."
And Faulkner led the charge.
Holding a five-point lead, West York (27-1) brought the ball up from half court. Kari Lankford sent a pass to Olivia Sollberger, and that's when Faulkner struck. She slid in from beside Sollberger for a steal and scored an easy layup on the other end, and on Greencastle's next possession, she hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 36.
"I saw her get the ball and I knew she was going to dribble wide, so I just swooped in for the steal," Faulkner said. "I was determined to get that steal and change the momentum."
Katie Gelsinger hit a jumper to give the Devils a 38-36 lead with 33 seconds left. After a Bulldog miss, it was Hannah Crist's turn to come through in the clutch.
She was sent to the foul line twice for 1-and-1s, and twice she sank both free throws to ice the game for Greencastle.
"I had a really rough first half, but my teammates just kept encouraging me and kept my head up," Crist said. "I was definitely nervous, but I just focused and hit my shots."
Rhine said, "She's just doing her thing. It's no coincidence. She's the hardest worker in the gym. It's paying off and I couldn't be happier."
The Bulldogs controlled the game for most of the first half. They jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, then after Greencastle made it 11-9 early in the second quarter, West York went on a 9-0 run to go up by 11.
Trailing by 10 early in the third quarter, the Blue Devils started to crawl their way back in it. Crist hit a 3-pointer and a floater in the lane to spark a 9-0 run, and Meghan Hirneisen hit a jumper at the buzzer to make it 30-28 heading into the final quarter.
"We just didn't execute down the stretch," West York coach Darrell Wildasin said. "They sagged in on us defensively, and I think we lost some confidence after we missed a couple shots. The playoffs are all about execution, and they out-executed us today."
The Blue Devils had contributions from all five starters. Gelsinger was a menace on the boards with 14 rebounds – she's had double-digit rebounds in every playoff game. Jane Herman finished with five points, including a 3-pointer that gave G-A a lead in the third quarter, and Hirneisen finished with four points – all in the second half – and drew a charge late in the fourth quarter.
"These girls are amazing," Rhine said. "It's why they're the total package. It isn't one person doing everything. They play hard and believe in each other. That's half the battle."
NOTES >> Faulkner finished with 15 points, four assists and three blocks for G-A, and Crist added 12 points ... Lankford led West York with 14 points, and Sollberger had 10 ... G-A's defense held 1,000-point scorer Emily Wood to just five points ... Greencastle had just four turnovers in the second half after having 12 in the first half.
Jenay Faulkner 5-15 2-2 15, Hannah Crist 3-8 4-4 12, Jane Herman 2-8 0-0 5, Katie Gelsinger 2-6 0-2 4, Meghan Hirneisen 2-3 0-0 4, Hannah Zimmerman 1-1 0-0 2, Shelby Stouffer 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 15-41 6-8 42.
WEST YORK (40)
Kari Lankford 5-12 4-5 14, Olivia Sollberger 4-9 2-2 10, Emily Wood 2-11 0-0 5, Sela Fuhrman 1-9 0-2 2, Elle Stine 3-3 0-0 6, Charizma Johnson 1-1 0-0 3, Katie Tallman 0 0-0 0, Paige Weekly 0 0-0 0, Morgan Bamberger 0-2 0-0 0.
Totals — 16-47 6-9 40.
3-point goals — GA 6-22 (Faulkner 3, Crist 2, Herman), WY 2-5 (Wood, Johnson).