A double-elimination playoff system offers a chance at redemption and sometimes a second chance at heartbreak for those teams that fall into the consolation bracket.
On Friday night at East Pennsboro, it was redemption for the top-seeded Camp Hill Lions.
For Hanover and the nine seniors who will never get to wear a Nighthawks uniform again, it was heartbreak for the second time in three nights.
On a night when Nighthawks senior Dylan Krieger broke Hanover's all-time scoring record - in the history of both boys' and girls' programs at the school - Camp Hill's lone senior DeShawn Franklin stole the show. Franklin swiped a Hanover inbounds pass and converted two free throws with 16 seconds left in regulation to seal a 54-50 win, booking a trip to states for the Lions.
"We can't shock anyone in Philly if we don't win this one first," Camp Hill head coach Wayne Fletcher said. "So that's what we had to do. We need to believe we can go to Philly and win a game, then another game. We believe we have another run in us."
Hanover led by as many as 12 in the second quarter and went into the locker room at halftime with a 26-19 lead, but gave up 24 third-quarter points and fell behind.
The Nighthawks trailed 49-45 with less than three minutes to go before making a quick 5-0 run to temporarily take the lead. Jase Etzler made a free throw, then Krieger broke the record with an and-one in the lane, sending the Nighthawk faithful into a frenzy.
There was no time to celebrate, though. Krieger missed the free throw, but scored shortly after to give Hanover a lead when Camp Hill's 6-foot-7 forward Zack Kuntz was called for a goaltending.
Franklin grabbed an offensive rebound on the other end and scored in traffic to re-take the lead. On Camp Hill's ensuing possession, Kuntz made his first free throw and missed the second, but the Lions grabbed the offensive rebound. Down 52-50, Hanover elected not to foul and it paid off. Cam Bosserman came up with his fourth steal of the game and called a timeout. Franklin returned the favor with a steal of his own when Bosserman attempted to inbound the ball coming out of the timeout. Franklin sank two free throws and, with them, the Nighthawks' hopes at returning to states.
"We battled and battled and battled, which is characteristic of this group all year," Hanover head coach Nathan Myers said. "It came down to the end and a few things just didn't go our way."
Despite playing their third game in five days and coming off an emotional overtime loss to Columbia, the Nighthawks came out and took momentum early on. Junior Kyle Krout, who was held to five points and fouled out on Wednesday, airballed his first shot, but scored eight points in the first quarter to give Hanover a 16-6 lead.
"You never know coming off a performance like Wednesday how your kids are going to react," Myers said. "I was proud of how they picked themselves back up and I think we got (Camp Hill's) attention early on."
Krout knocked down two 3-pointers in the second quarter and Hanover's defense held Camp Hill to 8-for-28 shooting in the first half.
"If we're not high energy on defense, then we're not high energy on anything," Fletcher said. "Our energy level was low and when they hit those shots, it was demoralizing."
Camp Hill came out of halftime on a 14-5 run to take a 33-31 lead.
"Our identity is what we can do defensively," Fletcher said. "We knew if we could get some stops and turnovers, then we would have a shot to get back into it."
Franklin scored 13 of his 21 points in the pivotal third quarter.
"He took it upon himself to create some opportunities for us," Fletcher said. "Scoring as a whole has been an issue for us, but that's something he can do."
Despite breaking the all-time scoring record and finishing his career with 1,408 points, surpassing former Hanover girls' basketball standout Betsy Witman, Krieger was held to 12 points — 13 shy of his season average. Fletcher wanted to use both size and athleticism against Krieger, which is something he thought Krieger hadn't had to deal with much this season, he said.
"Their size wore us down a little bit," Myers said. "We hadn't really seen size like that all season."
Afterward, it was an emotional scene outside the Hanover locker room. Myers took time to address his team and hugged his seniors as they filed out of the locker room for the last time.
"I have a six-year-old who knows all their names and pretends to be them when he's playing basketball in his room," Myers said. "I couldn't have asked for better role models for my kid. I owe a lot to this group of seniors. The Hanover community should be extremely proud of them."
Camp Hill 54, Hanover 50
Kyle Krout 9 0-0 24, Dylan Krieger 3 6-9 12, Bosserman 3 0-0 6, Rhodes 2 0-0 4, McQueen 1 1-2 3, Etzler 0 1-2 1
Totals — 18 8-13 50
CAMP HILL (54)
DeShawn Franklin 5 9-11 21, Zack Kuntz 6 1-4 13, David Fetrow 4 5-6 13, Leach 3 0-0 7, Shuster 0 0-1 0, Caruso 0 0-0 0, Vallati 0 0-0 0, Dunphy 0 0-0 0, Perez 0 0-0 0
Totals — 18 15-22 54
3-point goals — HAN 6 (Krout 6), CH 3 (Franklin 2, Leach)