Check out the top 10 plays from McConnellsburg girls and Southern Fulton boys in the District 5 basketball championships on Friday. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
When Dawson Snyder went to the line for Shanksville's boys basketball team with 1.8 seconds remaining, his coach and father, Robert Snyder, was thinking one thing.
"Just please get one of the three in," coach Snyder said. "You never know when that pucker factor is going to kick in and nerves are going to eat you alive. But when he made that first one, I knew we'd be all right."
Dawson knocked down all three free throws, and Shanksville earned the District 5 Class 1A championship with a 41-38 victory over Southern Fulton on Friday night at the University of Pitt-Johnstown.
A last-second hurl by Dylan Gordon, who led the Indians with 13 points, did not go in.
"To prepare all year knowing we'd see these guys, it's tough," SF fellow senior Chase Varner said. "The emotions are crazy out there. Anything that goes your way seems like a pot of gold, like it's the most exciting thing. Then something bad happens, and it feels like the whole world came crashing down on you. It's tough to swallow."
Although it's easy to focus on the last two seconds as what sealed the deal for the Vikings, it was so much more than that. Neither team led by double figures at any time, and there were countless lead changes and momentum swings.
"It wasn't for lack of effort," Indians coach Kent Hendershot said. "We put ourselves in the game and had a chance to win, and we didn't execute when we had to. I thought there were a couple of big shots where we did exactly everything opposite of what we had practiced and prepared for. We just had a few too many costly mistakes."
Although Southern Fulton (19-5) finished with just 13 turnovers, a few of them were especially costly. The first three turnovers of the game for the Indians led directly to six points for Shanksville (24-1).
"We were getting too over-anxious," SF's Carl Potter said. "They play hype defense on you, and when we get behind them, even when you dribble out in front, they can still reach out and get it from you. Thirteen turnovers is OK, but they came at bad times. They disrupted our offense and ultimately effected the outcome of the game."
Varner and Potter were Southern Fulton's other leading scorers on Friday night with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
But the rest of the team combined for just four points in a defensive showdown.
Both teams will earn a much-deserved bit of time off before turning around next Friday for the PIAA Tournament.
Shanksville's opponent has yet to be determined, but Southern Fulton will face Williamsburg, the runner-up out of District 6.
"I think we played a very good game against a very good team tonight," Varner said. "Now we just have to hit the reset button. We gotta get our hype back and make some noise in states; just anything to get a couple more games with my guys."
As for the Vikings, they're going to take a while to enjoy this moment.
"I can't compliment coach Hendershot and that group enough," coach Snyder said. "Honest to goodness, when I got hired at Shanksville, they asked me what I wanted for our program, and I told them I wanted to be like Southern Fulton, where year in and year out, we're competing for the district title."
So, at least there's always next year for the Indians.