DALLASTOWN — Elco punched its ticket to the next round of the District 3 Class AAA girls' basketball tournament with an upset victory Wednesday.
It looked like the Raiders might do it again Saturday.
But Greencastle-Antrim, the defending district champions, had something to say about it.
Despite a tough first half, Greencastle defeated Elco, 39-26, at Dallastown High School to earn a trip back to Hershey's Giant Center with a quarterfinal victory.The Blue Devils (22-2) will face No. 1 seed Berks Catholic (20-5) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals.
"Just to get there is the goal," Greencastle coach Mike Rhine said.
In one of its worst starts of the season, Greencastle shot just 16 percent in the first half, while having trouble defending Elco's speed. The Raiders held a 15-12 lead at the break.
"Our defense in the first half wasn't as strong, but they also made a lot of their shots," Greencastle's Hannah Crist said. "We stepped it up in the second."
Greencastle's first order of business was to shut down leading scorer Taylor Bossert.
The Blue Devils focused on the 5-foot-1 Bossert, who was dwarfed by her defensive pairing, 5-foot-8 Crist, who held Bossert to just five points.
"We knew she was their big scorer, and we made sure she was our focus," Crist said.
The third quarter was key for the Blue Devils if they wanted to return to Hershey. Elco came out of the locker room sluggish, giving Greencastle the perfect opportunity to stage a comeback.
"We just couldn't continue that momentum in the second half - our focus on defense kind of took away from our offense," Elco coach Ashli Shay said. "We weren't hitting those shots when we needed them to fall."
With just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Greencastle's big three — Jenay Faulkner, Meghan Hirneisen and Crist — teamed up for a 3-pointer and two consecutive buckets to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game, 21-17. They never looked back.
"We didn't make our shots in the first half, and it took us awhile to figure out what they were going to do," Rhine said. "We just couldn't do it until the third quarter, and experience and determination goes a long way. We have some fighters and in the second half it was a really good game."
Shay added: "I thought we had a pretty good game plan, but we ran out of gas. They hit some big shots there at the end, and we were just struggling to find our legs and make some shots."
Chandelle Keller led the Raiders (16-8) with seven points and grabbed five boards.
Faulkner teetered on the verge of a double-double with 13 points and nine boards, but she also had five blocks and five steals for the Blue Devils.
Crist led Greencastle with 17 points.
Despite the loss, Keller is confident in her team's performance.
"Everyone always underestimates us," she said. "We're small little Elco, but we can do big things. And we're not done yet. Our defense was really good in the first half, and I think if we played them again we'd have a chance."
Greencastle 39, Elco 26
Taylor Bossert 2-12 0-0 5, Chandelle Keller 3-11 1-1 7, Alexis Thomas 2-6 0-2 4, Julia Nelson 3-6 0-0 6, Ryelle Shuey 0-5 2-2 2, Adrianna Sonnen 0-0 0-0 0, Zoe McGee 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Rosengrant 1-1 0-0 2. Totals — 11-41 3-5 26.
Hannah Crist 5-16 3-4 17, Morgan Wagaman 1-6 0-0 2, Jenay Faulkner 5-16 0-0 13, Meghan Hirneisen 1-4 0-0 2, Ashley True 0-2 0-2 0, Lydia Crist 1-3 0-0 3, Madison Sweitzer 1-3 0-0 2. Totals — 15-50 3-6 39.
3-point goals — Elco 1 (Bossert), GA 6 (Faulkner 3, H.Crist 2, L.Crist).