McConnellsburg takes home titles
On Friday night, McConnellsburg's boys basketball clinched the SHL and ICC South titles with a 54-45 victory over Forbes Road. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
History was made for McConnellsburg's boys basketball on Friday night.
With a 54-45 victory over Forbes Road, the Spartans clinched two league titles, including the team's first-ever Inter-County Conference South crown.
"If you take care of business one game at a time, the goals should fall into place," McConnellsburg coach Drew Washabaugh said.
The goals did fall into place for the Spartans. They won not only their first-ever ICC title, but also claimed their first Sideling Hill League crown since the 1982-83 season.
Chance Hawbaker's explosive first half and 18 total points powered the red-hot Spartans to victory, en route to the team's 15th straight win.
Hawbaker's first-half dunk, along with early foul trouble for the Cardinals (11-9, 7-8 SHL, 6-8 ICC), turned the tide for McConnellsburg (18-3, 14-1 SHL, 12-1 ICC) and it claimed a lead it never surrendered.
"Once you lose that key piece (because of foul trouble), it throws your rhythm out," Forbes Road coach Trent Black said. "We just have to adjust for that here going into the playoffs."
The Cardinals forged a late-game push with the clock winding down, but McConnellsburg's defense kept Forbes' big shooters from successfully driving inside to score.
"We didn't shoot the ball at all very well tonight (17-for-48 from the field)," Black said. "We just got out of rhythm."
After a neck-and-neck first quarter, the momentum flipped for the Spartans when Hawbaker, who capped off a double-double with 11 rebounds, absolutely ignited the crowd with a dunk on of a fastbreak in the second frame. McConnellsburg fed off of that energy, and it carried a 12-point lead into the second half.
For Forbes Road, the pressure was on, and the team responded accordingly. The Cardinals trailed by 17 points heading into the fourth, but a few late jumpers clawed Forbes Road to just a seven-point deficit with time trickling off the clock.
Although it was too little too late, but both coaches were impressed with Forbes Road's "never say die" attitude.
"We just told them you can either lay down and quit," Black said, "or we can go out here and fight and battle back, and they responded well to it."
Washabaugh said, "You've gotta give a lot of credit to Forbes Road. They could have easily folded and they battled.".
McConnellsburg faces Everett in the final game of the regular season Tuesday before playing in the ICC Championship next Saturday against North champion Moshannon Valley.
While this win feels nice, Washabaugh and the Spartans still feel like they have something left to prove.
"Our motto's been one game at a time," Washabaugh said. "I told the guys we're not done yet."