GREENCASTLE - It was a thrilling finish to a classic tug of war girls basketball game with a lot of meaning.
And the best player on the floor put her stamp on the game at the right moment, just as her coach expected her to do.
Morgan Wagaman's clutch fast-break layup with 7.2 seconds left, after Jenay Faulkner made three spectacular plays in a row, led Greencastle-Antrim to a scintillating 50-48 victory over Boiling Springs on Thursday night at G-A, a win that clinched the Blue Devils' third straight Mid Penn Colonial Division title.
Greencastle (20-1, 11-1 MPC) qualified for the Mid Penn Tournament, and will face Commonwealth Division champion Cumberland Valley (18-2) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Big Spring in a semifinal clash.
"Jenay and all those kids ... they're just winners," Greencastle coach Mike Rhine said. "It wasn't anything I said in the huddle; you just know they'll figure it out. Everybody played hard on both sides, but when you have No. 4 (Faulkner) on your side, you have to feel good."
The Bubblers (18-3, 10-2 MPC) had held the lead since Meghan Williams just beat the buzzer to end the third quarter with a jumper that gave her team a 41-39 lead.
It was 48-46 in Boiling Springs' favor when Faulkner made her presence felt. She drove to the basket from the right side against a tightly-packed defense, but a spin move gave her just enough room to squeeze through for a layup that tied the game 48-48 with 23 seconds left.
The Bubblers worked the ball around and found Lauryn Stouffer free on the left block. But her shot was cleanly rejected by Faulkner, who also corralled the rebound.
"I had a good angle on her to try for the block," Faulkner said. "And then I looked up for somebody long."
And she saw Wagaman streaking downcourt free as a bird.
Wagaman caught Faulkner's pass, made an adjustment, then dropped in a pressure layup for the winning points. Boiling Springs could get off only a wild shot at the end.
Wagaman said, "I could see Jenay was going to get the rebound, and it's my job to run out. I saw that the pass was a little long so I had to get my steps right to catch it. And then I had to get to the right side of the basket because that's where I shoot better. I was pretty sure I had enough time."
Boiling Springs coach Kyle Watkins said, "We had some opportunities to make plays at the end, and so did they. But Faulkner can pick her spots and in certain moments just take over."
The first half was bombs away for both teams. Boiling Spring attempted 16 3-pointers and made eight of them, while Greencastle hit 3 of 9.
"In the first half, they were playing a 3-2 (zone) and that's what we had open," Watkins said. "In the second half they went more man, so we tried to get it inside."
Rhine said, "We're missing Madison Sweitzer (injured an ankle Tuesday), so with only six players I didn't want to play too much man, and we couldn't really run our press as much as we wanted."
The Bubblers led 31-28 at halftime and held their biggest lead at 46-40 early in the fourth quarter. But Hannah Crist, who suffered a tough shooting night (6-for-18), nailed a pair of 3-pointers to get G-A to within 48-46 and set them up for the wild finish.
"We wanted to attack the basket more, but they are big and long and good," Rhine said. "Even so, we missed a lot of wide-open shots that we've been making lately. Maybe we were a little tired."
Good call, coach.
Wagaman said, "This was a big game and we needed to win it, so we're happy. But ... I'm exhausted."
Notes: Faulkner and Crist each had 17 points for G-A, while Williams (11), Marissa Armolt (11) and Hughes (10) led the Bubblers ... Meghan Hirneisen (10) and Ashley True (8) led the Devils in rebounding ... Faulkner had six assists and four blocks, and Hirneisen made five assists .. The teams combined to hoist up 48 3-point shots and sink 16.
Greencastle 50, Boiling Springs 48
Boiling Springs (48)
Marissa Armolt 4-11 0-0 11, Alyssa Brady 0-4 0-0 0, Maddy DeCou 2-4 1-2 5, Madison Herner 1-4 0-0 2, Lauryn Stouffer 3-11 0-0 6, Maddie Hughes 3-11 1-2 10, Mehgan Williams 4-5 0-0 11, Lizzy Tilton 1-3 0-0 3. Totals — 18-53 2-4 48.
Hannah Crist 6-18 3-4 17, Morgan Wagaman 3-6 1-2 7, Jenay Faulkner 6-15 2-6 17, Meghan Hirneisen 1-6 0-0 3, Ashley True 1-1 0-0 2, Lydia Crist 2-2 0-0 4. Totals — 19-48 6-12 50.
Boiling Springs _ 16 _ 15 _ 10 _ 7 _ — _ 48
Greencastle _ 16 _ 12 _ 11 _ 11 _ — _ 50
3-point goals — Boil 10-24 (Armolt 3, Hughes 3, Williams 3, Tilton), GA 6-25 (Faulkner 3, H.Crist 2, Hirneisen).