SPRING GROVE - For the first four minutes, anyway, the Spring Grove boys were befuddled by a most unexpected defense.
"Not a lot of teams play zone against us, so we had to recalibrate a little," Spring Grove coach James Brooks said. "We don't see it a lot, because we shoot so well."
Though shut out early by Greencastle-Antrim's 2-3 zone defense, the Rockets rallied to tie the game by the end of the first quarter on their way to the 54-40 victory in Monday's Senior Night non-league action at Spring Grove.
Greencastle (12-7) netted the first eight points of the contest before Spring Grove star junior Eli Brooks hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to get his team on the board.
Spring Grove (19-2) trailed 10-3 before ending the opening frame on a 9-2 run with Brooks tying things on a basket with 14 seconds left.
The Blue Devils kept things tight throughout the second quarter. Spring Grove's largest lead was 25-19, courtesy of Liam Flaherty's 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:42 before halftime.
Hoops by Bryan Gembe and Casey Hoover to start the third quarter put the Blue Devils ahead, 26-25. But Darin Gordon answered Hoover's basket with an old-fashioned 3-point play to give Spring Grove the lead for good with 4:47 left in the quarter.
Spring Grove carried a 37-31 lead into the final stanza courtesy of Drew Gordon's layup at the quarter horn. Greencastle trailed 39-35 with five minutes to go before Brooks grabbed a steal and swooped in for a slam that ignited a 10-3 Rockets' run to put things away.
Greencastle coach Gary Martin said, "It was a pretty clean game and we stayed close until the fourth quarter. But Brooks is really good and he hit some crucial baskets for them."
Brooks finished with a game-high 23 points and grabbed nine boards while shooting 10-of-16 from the field. Meanwhile, senior Darin Gordon filled up the box score with 11 points, 10 boards and six assists.
"There's some different emotions on Senior Night and you could see that on the faces of some of the guys," James Brooks said. "They really wanted to finish the regular season strong with a win, and I think they might've been a little too fired up to start. Once we settled in, we were fine."
Greencastle was paced by Hoover's 12 points.
Martin said, "We're just going to have to dig in and win our games with Northern and Boiling Springs and hope 14-7 gets us in (the District 3 field)."
The Rockets return to action with a YAIAA tournament quarterfinal match-up Friday with the opponent and destination yet to be determined.
Spring Grove 54, Greencastle-Antrim 40
Stuhler 2 0-0 4, Meyers 1 0-0 3, Sprague 3 0-0 7, Gelsinger 3 1-2 7, Casey Hoover 4 4-4 12, Gembe 3 0-0 7, Lutz 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 5-6 40.
Spring Grove (54)
Messersmith 0 0-0 0, Dr. Gordon 2 0-0 4, Wierman 3 1-2 7, Flaherty 1 0-0 3, Eli Brooks 10 0-0 23, Darin Gordon 4 2-3 11, Sager 0 0-0 0, Panter 1 4-4 6. Totals 21 7-9 54.
Greencastle _12 _10 _9 _9 - _40
Spring Grove _12 _13 _12 _17 - _54
3-point goals - GA 3 (Meyers, Sprague, Gembe), SG 5 (Brooks 3, Flaherty, Da. Gordon).
JV Score - Spring Grove 56, Greencastle 39.