HERSHEY – The effects of Wednesday’s thunderstorm were felt deep within the Giant Center on Wednesday night. Deep in some critical circuitry, which resulted in the arena’s lights momentarily dimming during a District Three Class AAA girls’ semifinal between Berks Catholic and Greencastle-Antrim, in the horn sounding interminably, in redoubtable public-address announcer Bob Schellenger narrating the final minute and change of the Saints’ victory in his usual dulcet tones.
We’re talking deep.
Also, Trinity boys’ coach Larry Kostelac Jr. reported, “It was 87 degrees in all the locker rooms tonight.”
It had been considerably hotter on the court, where his Shamrocks, seeded second in the Class AA field, were pushed to the limit before turning back No. 6 Lancaster Mennonite 63-59 in a semifinal decided in overtime.
Reserve guard Mike Scarpelli snapped a 59-59 tie by making a free throw with 1:03 left in the extra period and Trinity (18-6) added three more foul shots in the closing seconds to advance to Friday’s championship game against top-seeded Camp Hill (18-5), a 71-49 winner over Upper Dauphin in Wednesday’s other semi.
Forward Tim Edwards scored 19 points, 14 after 4:18 remained in regulation, and guard Austin Gilbertson added 18 as the ‘Rocks, the defending district champions, rallied from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Richie Rosas Jr. had 13 and Nate Jean-Phillippe and Jon Gillespie had 11 each for LMH (13-13), which will oppose Upper Dauphin (22-4) in Friday’s third-place game, site and time to be determined. And it was Gillespie’s 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left in regulation that sent the game to overtime.
“Our guys,” coach Geoff Groff said, “played their hearts out.”
The Blazers were giving away size at every position to the ‘Rocks, who started 6-8 Jack Vukelich, a Mount St. Mary’s recruit, and brought 6-10 Sean Good off the bench. But after a shaky start LMH spread Trinity out, ran its stuff, made some shots.
“They have five guys on the floor that can pass and cut and read defenses, and they can shoot the doggone ball,” Kostelac said. “They do it better than anyone I’ve seen. That’s how good they are.”
The Blazers were especially sharp in a 16-2 burst beginning midway through the third quarter, one that ended with 12 consecutive LMH points, erased a 38-31 deficit and allowed Mennonite to forge a 47-40 lead with 6:46 remaining in regulation. Rosas scored four points then. So too did Jean-Phillippe, who also drove the lane to set up Cody Hurst’s basket at the end of the third.
But Groff thought his team stopped attacking at that point, that it was “hoping the game got over with.” Trinity’s Jack Bucher made a 3-pointer with 5:46 left – the ‘Rocks’ only triple of the night – to end a 5:19 scoreless drought, and Trinity rode Edwards, a 6-4 junior, down the stretch.
He wasn’t doing anything special – just hanging out in the paint, finding soft spots in the defense and finishing plays at the rim. As Kostelac said, he’s “a throwback guy” with “a very uncanny way of scoring.”
Edwards generated all eight Trinity points in an 8-1 flurry, bringing the Shamrocks a 53-50 lead with 1:35 left in regulation. But he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 38.6 seconds showing, and Gillespie buried his 3 over an onrushing Good.
“I think he hit eight all year,” Kostelac said, “and he drills one to send it to overtime. That’s a huge shot by a young sophomore.”
Groff said that while Gillespie wasn’t the first option on that play, he is “capable of knocking that shot down.”
Edwards then missed another front end with 2.3 seconds left, sending the game to OT.
It was tied on three more occasions until Scarpelli made his go-ahead free throw. Gilbertson added another with 25.1 seconds to play, and the Blazers had one last chance to tie.
The plan was to run a backdoor play, but it wasn’t quite there.
“It would have been a really good play,” Groff said, adding that after that, it was “a matter of getting it back out and trusting guys to make a play.”
Carter Hurst nearly did, rubbing his man off a screen at the left elbow and picking his way through traffic on the side of the lane. He curled under the hoop, absorbed some contact and nearly coaxed in a reverse layup, but it spilled off the rim.
Edwards then connected twice at the line with 1.5 seconds left to ice it.
Trinity 63, LMH 59 (OT)
LANCASTER MENNONITE (59)
Co. Hurst 1 0-0 2, Ca. Hurst 5 0-0 10, Gillespie 4 0-0 11, Kerr 1 3-4 6, Rosas 6 1-2 13, Jean-Phillippe 4 1-2 11, Stefanosky 3 0-0 6. Totals 24 2-4 59.
Vukelich 2 0-0 4, Edwards 7 5-8 19, Gilbertson 8 2-3 18, Hall 2 1-1 5, Bucher 3 1-2 8, Ruiz 0 0-0 0, Scarpelli 0 1-2 1, Good 4 0-0 8, Long 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 9-16 63.
Lanc. Mennonite 18 13 12 10 6 -- 59
Trinity 20 13 7 13 10 -- 63
Fouled out -- Gillespie. 3-Point Goals: LMH 6 (Gillespie 3, Jean-Phillippe 2, Kerr); T 1 (Bucher).