Game of the Week: Greencastle at Shippensburg
Both Greencastle-Antrim and Shippensburg enter Friday night's key boys basketball game riding two-game losing streaks.
But one of those skids looks just a little worse.
The Blue Devils won seven straight before falling to a pair of strong non-conference opponents, while Ship has lost five of its last six and was most recently upset by Waynesboro, a team it had previously beaten by 24 points.
That loss also gave the Greyhounds their first defeat in the Mid Penn Colonial Division, making Friday night's game against Greencastle that much more important. Both have one loss in the division and are now tied for the top spot.
"I think this game would've been relatively important had we won or lost (on Tuesday)," Ship coach Ray Staver said. "They lost against Red Lion and Red Land, but they are playing pretty well, and those were their first losses since we played them. They have cranked up their offense quite a bit."
The last time the teams met, the Hounds (8-6, 6-1 MPC) won, 47-41. Greencastle (8-4, 5-1 MPC) has scored fewer than 60 points just once since then.
"This is the biggest game of our season," G-A coach Gary Martin said. "We know it, and we marked it on our calendar after the first time we lost. We feel we can beat them, and we want to redeem ourselves."
Casey Hoover has been the Blue Devils' offensive leader all season. He is averaging 18.6 points per game - fourth in the area. Although no other Blue Devil is averaging in double figures, Bryan Gembe (9.7 ppg) and Brandon Stuhler (8.3) are right behind, and Spencer Meyers has been on a bit of a roll lately, putting up double digits in two of his last three games.
"Casey has offensively been leading us all season, and he's really stepped up defensively," Martin said. "Stuhler has been lights out for us in the new year, and he's a big spark defensively. Ian (Gelsinger) has been pick up hard assignments. His scoring is down, but he gives us everything on the defensive end."
Defense is going to be key for Greencastle, as it faces a team that has three players averaging in double figures - Wade Mills (14.7), Shuntan Hickman (10.6) and Carter Van Scyoc (10.3). Shippensburg also has a clear height advantage.
"Carter has been giving us a lot," Staver said. "For a young kid, he's been very consistent over this stretch where we haven't been winning a lot of games. Wade's scoring is a little bit down, but he's been playing well, and Teagan (Staver) gives us a lot that's not seen in the boxscore. He's consistently filling up the stat sheet."
Although the upset by Waynesboro made this game even more of a must-win for Shippensburg in its hunt for a division title repeat, it might have been a blessing in disguise.
"One of our assistant coaches said that maybe this will be a wake-up call for them," Staver said. "But we have to handle their pressure, because they'll press us a bit. I also just like the way they attack on offense. They're very aggressive on the offensive end, but at the same time, when they need to be patient, they can do that too."
The Hounds' biggest focus will be putting together a full game. They certainly can't afford to take any time off against a Greencastle team that is looking to contend for the division.
Blue Devils-Greyhounds at a glance
Game data: Greencastle-Antrim Blue Devils at Shippensburg Greyhounds boys basketball ... Friday, 7:30 p.m. ... Mid Penn Colonial Division game.
Media: Follow @liziarbogast on Twitter for live updates ... Livestream will be available on GameTimePA.com and midpennbroadcasting.com.
Teams: Greencastle (8-4, 5-1 MPC) and Shippensburg (8-6, 6-1 MPC) are both riding two-game losing skids entering Friday's game.
Series: Ship won the first meeting, 47-41.
P.O. pick: Greyhounds by 3.