McConnellsburg settles for second best again
Check out the best plays from Southern Fulton's girls consolation game and McConnellsburg's boys championship game. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
For the second year in a row, McConnellsburg's boys basketball team had a shot at a title.
But for the second year in a row, the Spartans had to settle for second best after falling to Berlin, 58-49, in the District 5 Class 2A championship on Saturday afternoon at the University of Pitt-Johnstown.
Despite being the clear underdog, Berlin came out with an ax to grind and put on what Mountaineer coach Tanner Prosser called its best defensive game of the season.
"I don't know if it was as much their defense as it was that they were very physical and aggressive on defense," McConnellsburg senior Ethan Barclay said. "They played a lot of off-ball pressure, and that's not something we're used to seeing a lot."
McConnellsburg started well enough, trailing just 22-19 at halftime. But it was foul trouble that really changed the game plan for the Spartans. McConnellsburg's second-leading scorer, Chance Hawbaker, sat on the bench for almost the entire second quarter, while Chase Novak had to take a seat early in the second half with three fouls to his name.
Although Nic Culler exploded for all of his 15 points in the second half, it just wasn't enough to overcome Berlin, which is now the three-time champion.
"Just like we did in JV last year, (Ethan and I) whenever Chance was in foul trouble, we had to take over the game," Culler said. "I just tried to create my own shots and opportunities, and I was trying to get the other guys to feed me the ball, too."
Despite the loss, the Spartans' season isn't over yet. They'll face Bishop Guilfoyle in the first round of the PIAA Tournament next Saturday at a site and time to be decided. The Marauders (17-7) are the District 6 runner-up.
"I'm not saying we're going to win the next game, but we're going to show up and we're going to compete," McConnellsburg coach Drew Washabaugh said. "Today, our shots didn't fall and we had too many turnovers in the first half, so we're definitely disappointed. But we have to stay composed. We're going to be down for a little bit, but Monday, we have to bounce back."
Coming off a game in which they shot nearly 70 percent from the field, the Spartans (20-5) seemingly couldn't buy a bucket for long stretches of Saturday's game. They also couldn't buy an offensive rebound. They finished with just six offensive boards, compared to 28 defensive rebounds for Berlin (16-9).
The Mountaineers were also helped along by a few unlikely suspects. While Berlin's Nick Gooden led the way with 17 points, Luke Brick emerged as Berlin's secret weapon. Entering the game, Brick averaged just 6.4 points per game, but he scored 16 Saturday.
"I felt like I was just shooting good, and my teammates opened up my shooting for me," Brick said.
Prosser added, "Luke plays hard, and he's one of our better defenders. All of our guys need to be guarded, and if teams don't do that, we have guys that can make them pay. Luke took advantage of some opportunities and had a big night when we needed him."