READING - If you've ever been to Greencastle-Antrim's gym, you know that it's small.
So when the Blue Devils' boys basketball team stepped onto the court at Geigle Complex on Wednesday night, it was almost like it had just stepped into another world.
Reading, the largest school in the entire state, played host to Greencastle in a District 3 Class AAAA first-round game. Despite being the smallest 4A school in Pennsylvania, the Blue Devils gave the Red Knights all they had. But the No. 2-seeded Reading out-lasted Greencastle for a 73-55 victory.
"No one gave us a prayer today," G-A coach Gary Martin said. "Our guys could've easily come in here and laid an egg and went on home. But they didn't do that. I didn't see any fear tonight. Under 20 against them on their home court? I'll take it."
Senior Spencer Meyers said, "Even though we were undersized and undermanned, we give it our all every time. We kind of knew coming in what was going to happen, but it didn't matter to us. We were still going to fight and play until the last buzzer."
Reading (22-3) advances to face Carlisle (17-5) on Saturday in the quarterfinals, while Greencastle finishes with a 15-8 record.
Despite being the clear underdogs, Greencastle did not make it easy for the Knights, especially in the first half. In fact, the Blue Devils opened the game with a 5-2 lead after a 3-point play by Brandon Stuhler.
But then Reading went on a 17-5 run and doubled up on Greencastle, 24-12, by the end of the first quarter.
"In the beginning, it seemed like they wanted it more than us," Reading's Isiah Cook said. "They brought more energy, played harder and were looking for open shots.They were pushing the ball in transition and trying to play our game. They beat us to the punch a little bit in the beginning, but we did a good job of picking it up."
The Knights opened the second quarter on a 13-4 run and, in the blink of an eye, had built up its biggest lead to that point, 37-16, midway through the frame. But once again, Greencastle wasn't going to go down without a fight.
Casey Hoover broke an eight-point Reading run with a layup, and Matt Lutz continued Greencastle's success with a steal and a layup. Hoover hit his second 3-pointer of the night, and Ian Gelsinger added a layup to pull the Blue Devils within 12 points.
"We knew this was going to be the toughest team on our schedule," Hoover said. "But after making a run at them in the first quarter, we knew that they were good, but we thought we could really play with them a little bit."
Reading coach Rick Perez said, "For us, I feel like the ultimate challenge was us connecting as a team. Not only that, but Greencastle played extremely well. They shot the ball well; they passed well; and they were poised. They were coached awesome, and they played awesome. They definitely put it all out on that floor."
The Knights ultimately proved themselves as the better team and used a 26-13 tilt in rebounding to their advantage.
"I'm probably the biggest guy on our team, and that guy (Lonnie Walker, Reading's leading rebounder with eight) had a few inches on me," Meyers said. "It was really difficult to box him out because he was so big, and they attacked the boards really well. They definitely didn't sit back."
Reading was helped along by a career-high in points from Cook, whose 21 points led four Knight in double figures. Khary Mauras contributed 18, while Walker and Damon Stern split 20 points evenly.
Greencastle's offense was led by Hoover, who matched Cook with 21 points, and Gelsinger also contributed 13 points. In Meyers' career finale, he didn't score any points, but he did rack up six assists.
NOTES: Reading's male enrollment for this two-year cycle is 2,138; Greencastle's is 413 ... Even the eight Blue Devil cheerleaders seemed outmatched by the 20 Red Knights sparkling in red and black uniforms ... Half of G-A's 20 turnovers came on Reading steals.
Reading 73, Greencastle 55
Brandon Stuhler 2 2-3 7, Sam Sprague 2 0-0 4, Ian Gelsinger 6 0-0 13, Casey Hoover 8 0-0 21, Bryan Gembe 0 0-0 0, Spencer Meyers 0 0-0 0, Matt Lutz 2 0-0 4, Ben Freeman 2 0-0 6, Camron Hileman 0 0-0 0, Bryson Robinson 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 2-3 55.
Khary Mauras 6 2-2 18, Lonnie Walker 5 0-0 10, Damon Stern 3 3-3 10, Isiah Stern 8 4-5 21, Oenis Medina 3 1-2 7, Keyon McCuthen 1 3-4 5, Xavier Starks 0 0-0 0, Khari Whitfiled 1 0-0 2, Hector Dixon 0 0-0 0. Totals — 27 13-16 73.
Greencastle _ 12 _ 15 _ 18 _ 10 _ — _ 55
Reading _ 24 _ 17 _ 26 _ 6 _ — _ 73
3-point goals — GA 9 (Hoover 5, Freeman 2, Stuhler, Gelsinger), Read 6 (Mauras 4, Stern, Cook).