Check out the best of the best from Greencastle-Antrim's playoff game with Shippensburg on Monday night. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
The energy was palpable. The seats were completely packed. The stage was set.
Greencastle-Antrim and Shippensburg's first-round Class 5A boys basketball game was one of the most highly-anticipated matchups around District 3, and it lived up to every single expectation.
The Greyhounds grabbed an early lead before G-A slowly but surely chipped away at it; then the score started to fluctuate like yo-yo.
In the end, Ship had a chance to tie it up or go ahead on three possessions, but missed its opportunities. Greencastle pulled out a 58-57 victory to advance to the quarterfinals and earn an automatic bid to the PIAA tournament.
"It was back and forth the whole game," Greencastle's Ben Freeman said. "We knew it was going to come down to the final possession, and we were just happy to pull it out."
With less than seven seconds left and the Greyhounds trailing by one, Carter Van Scyoc drove the lane and headed for the rim. Freeman put his arms up, stood his ground and there was contact, but then both he and Van Scyoc came down with the ball. It was called a jump ball, giving G-A possession with one second on the clock.
Bryan Gembe inbounded the ball to Brandon Stuhler, who flew down the court and into the Greencastle student section in celebration.
"I don't know if stressful is the word, but I told them at the end, 'Where would you rather be?'" G-A coach Rick Lewis said. "This is why you play summer league and come to conditioning, for this. When we've played really good teams, they've just made one more play, and tonight, we just made one more play."
Shippensburg (16-6) came out of the gate hot, taking as much as a nine-point lead in the second quarter.
But Stuhler helped keep the Blue Devils in the contest, earning a pair of fastbreak layups after steals to cut the deficit to just three points by half.
"I think it was really important that we were still getting points on the board to keep us in the game," Stuhler said. "We knew they couldn't keep up with us if we could get a lead. I think I'm just in the right place at the right time sometimes; they're running down (the court), and the ball just comes into my hands."
Lewis said, "He was awesome. He's been awesome all year, and he just keeps playing and keeps coming at you. He's relentless."
Greencastle (16-8) went on a 5-0 run to start the second half, and from there, it was a seesaw affair.
"I thought we were terribly resilient," Ship coach Ray Staver said. "What a gutsy effort on our part. They got up by four, and we had some big buckets in the fourth quarter. We answered every time that we had to, and I know they're terribly disappointed with the outcome, but I thought our effort was great."
The good news for Ship is, it's not over yet.
While G-A advances to face No. 1-seeded Northeastern (24-2) in the quarterfinals Thursday, the Greyhounds will play host to Exeter (12-13) in a consolation matchup the same night.
"I told the guys, 'Listen, you can wear this tonight and you're going to have to get through it mentally,'" Staver said. "But by tomorrow, we just have to turn the page and move on. We reminded the seniors, this isn't how it's going to end."
Notes: Shippensburg's Van Scyoc led all scorers with 18 points, while Cody Gustafson and Clayton Stine contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively ... Stuhler led the Blue Devils with 16 points, and Gembe followed closely with 15; Casey Hoover and Freeman scored 12 and 11, respectively.