Check out the top five plays from McConnellsburg's 30-27 defeat of Southern Fulton on Friday night in boys basketball. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
The last time McConnellsburg's boys basketball team defeated Southern Fulton, Chase Novak was just 8 years old.
Fast forward to high school, when Novak spent three years trying to help the Spartans take down their rivals.
But like those who came before him, Novak, now a senior, couldn't quite get McConnellsburg over the hump. Until Friday night, that is.
With 2:30 left in the Sideling Hill/Inter-County Conference rivalry game, Novak hit a quick layup to give the Spartans a 25-23 lead they never surrendered. After a series of free throws from both teams, the Spartans held on for dear life and walked away with a 30-27 victory.
"We drew that play up in a timeout right before, and it worked to perfection," Novak said. "When that happens it's an awesome feeling. This is remarkable. Absolutely, to do it with this group of kids that I've played with since elementary all the way up through varsity, it's just amazing."
The last time McConnellsburg defeated Southern Fulton, it was also a three-point victory (39-36) late in the 2006-07 season.
"It definitely hurts because it's been awhile since we lost a game like this," SF guard Carl Potter said. "But like Coach (Kent Hendershot) said before, it's a learning experience every time we lose, but it definitely doesn't feel good now. Hopefully in the long run, it'll make us better for the next time we play them."
Most telling about Friday night's showdown was the final score. To hold Southern Fulton to a mere 27 points - easily its lowest point total of the season - was a defensive feat.
From the get-go, the Indians (10-3, 6-2 SHL, 5-2 ICC) looked out of sorts offensively. Although they held as much as a 12-point lead in the third quarter, they never quite looked like a team averaging more than 60 points per game.
"We have to be able to run our stuff and do what we want to do while having good defense on us," Hendershot said. "In our previous two losses, it was the same scenario. We failed to execute, get after it and buckle down when we needed to in crunch time. They took away what we were trying to do, and we didn't adjust well."
While Southern Fulton started to fall apart in the final quarter, McConnellsburg (11-3, 8-1 SHL, 6-1 ICC) seemed to only get stronger.
Trailing 23-16 heading into the fourth, the Spartans exploded for seven straight points to knot the scoreboard with 5:08 remaining.
The score remained 23-23 for more than two and half minutes, before Novak hit the fateful bucket to give McConnellsburg the edge for good.
"I told the guys, 'It's one possession at a time; don't look ahead,'" Spartan coach Drew Washabaugh said. "I didn't care if we were behind by 10, six, whatever. We just had to get a stop then a good possession, and we just kept chipping away at it."
As the final minutes ticked away, chaos ensued. Multiple fouls were called, and Southern Fulton was grasping at straws to earn back the lead. But a few costly turnovers ensured the victory for McConnellsburg.
"We let them press our buttons," Hendershot said. "We just panicked. We totally lost our focus with what we needed to do to win that game. I take nothing away from McConnellsburg, though. They definitely outplayed us tonight, and they earned that win."
And after all, it's been a long time coming.