SHIPPENSBURG - Heading into a key Mid Penn Colonial Division matchup, Shippensburg had one goal in mind: Play a complete boys basketball game.
The Greyhounds have been on a bit of a roller coaster lately, thanks in large part to a lack of consistency.
But that wasn't a problem Friday night. The Hounds were strong in all four quarters, and played their best ball of the night in the fourth, leading to a 62-55 victory over Greencastle-Antrim.
"There was just a couple minutes late after we got the lead where we kind of lost of composure," Ship coach Ray Staver said. "But I'm so proud of them to bounce back after the way we've played the last two weeks. Maybe it took a big game on our floor that really meant something for us to get our energy back."
It certainly was an important one. The victory put Shippensburg (9-6, 7-1 MPC) in sole possession of first place in the division with just three weeks left in the season.
"We want a repeat (of the division title), and if we wanted to do that, we had to win tonight," Greyhound forward Teagan Staver said. "Coming out right before the fourth quarter, we were all really excited and knew we just had to focus for eight minutes. We came out, did our job, and it worked out in the end."
The Blue Devils (8-5, 5-2 MPC) trailed by only two points heading into the final frame. Ship started the fourth with a three-point play by Staver, and G-A answered with a layup from Sam Sprague. But then it quickly went downhill for Greencastle.
After having a total of just three turnovers in the first three quarters, Greencastle racked up five miscues in the final eight minutes. Three of those came on consecutive possessions, which allowed the Hounds to go on a six-point run.
"I think it was more of us panicking," Blue Devil coach Gary Martin said. "We were down and racing the clock. We're hearing fans yelling, "Put it up! Shoot it!" and we end up taking shots quicker than where we'd like the pace of the game."
Ray Staver said, "We changed our defenses a couple of times. We were in a gimmick there for about four of five possessions. We had a steal or two, and I thought the big steal was Cody Gustafson's out front. We had just gotten a (putback from Wade Mills), then we got that steal (and Gustafson layup). When we get those breakaways or a dunk, that really puts the momentum in our favor."
Greencastle didn't count itself out yet, though. Sprague and Brandon Stuhler each had layups before a Bryan Gembe four-point play pulled the Devils within three.
But then Greencastle had a bit of a defensive lapse, and Shuntan Hickman made the Blue Devils pay with a wide-open 3-pointer.
"Shuntan was huge," Ray Staver said. "They had it down to three, then he knocks down that three and then hits a jumper. Those were big, big buckets."
Martin said, "We knew he wasn't going to drive or pass, too. We knew he was gonna hit the three, and that put them up by five. Then we had a big pass; we wanted a quick score with a home-run pass, but it wasn't there."
After a fairly strong shooting night in the first three quarters, some scoring woes also caught up with Greencastle. The Blue Devils shot 42.9 percent from the floor in the first three quarters, then were a mere 5-for-17 (29.4%) in the fourth.
"We're good shooters, but tonight we just weren't making enough at the end," Stuhler said. "They're so athletic and long, and they're so much taller than us. They were strong with offensive rebounds, so they had more chances than what we had, and they were making shots to win it."
NOTES: Ship put 3 players in double figures - Hickman (18 points), Mills (14) and Staver (10) ... Mills had the game's only double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds ... Gembe led the Blue Devils with 15 points, and Casey Hoover was right behind with 14.
Shippensburg 62, Greencastle 55
Brandon Stuhler 3 0-0 6, Sam Sprague 3 3-4 9, Ian Gelsinger 2 1-2 7, Casey Hoover 6 1-1 14, Bryan Gembe 5 1-1 15, Spencer Meyers 2 0-0 4, Camron Hileman 0 0-0 0, Matt Lutz 0 0-0 0, Ben Freeman 0 0-0 0. Totals — 21 6-8 55.
Cody Gustafson 3 2-2 8, Wade Mills 5 1-2 14, Teagan Staver 4 1-1 10, Shuntan Hickman 6 3-4 18, Carter Van Scyoc 3 1-2 8, Clayton Stine 0 0-0 0, Adam Houser 0 2-2 2, Garret Cavanaugh 1 0-0 2, Payton Fridinger 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 10-13 62.
Greencastle _ 9 _ 17 _ 16 _ 13 _ — _ 55
Shippensburg _ 12 _ 16 _ 16 _ 18 _ — _ 62
3-point goals — GA 5 (Gembe 4, Hoover), Ship 5 (Hickman 3, Mills, Van Scyoc).
JV score — Shippensburg 56, Greencastle-Antrim 19. Zach Cullen led the Hounds with 20 points.