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The Gettysburg boys' basketball team qualified for the PIAA tournament in each of the past two seasons. But this year, the Warriors began the season with no returning starters and precious little varsity experience.
That has led to a tough start to the season for the squad, but the Warriors earned their first victory of the campaign when they took down South Western, 53-50, in double overtime Tuesday in the opening round of the Gettysburg Lions Club holiday tournament.
Gettysburg (1-7) advances to Wednesday's 8 p.m. championship tile against Chambersburg, a 55-41 winner against Solanco.
"Those two teams were getting after it tonight," Gettysburg coach Jeff Bair said of the Chambersburg/Solanco game. "It was very physical and I felt like the way that it was played and called that it benefited the way that Chambersburg likes to play."
Tied at 50 with time ticking down, Gettysburg junior Cade Eckhart had the ball on the right wing and beat his man off the dribble. Eckhart then banked in a floater with 15 seconds to go.
South Western (1-7) rushed the ball up the court, but Job Brown's foul line jumper was off the mark. Gettysburg's Zach Ketterman corralled the rebound and split a pair of free throws for the final margin.
"We've had late leads against Kennard-Dale and Mifflin County and couldn't close them out, so it was nice to get this one," Bair said. "A lot of kids made plays for us tonight and we found a way to win."
The Warriors turned a 32-29 deficit after three quarters into a 46-42 lead with 26 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. But a hoop by Dhane Schmelyun cut the lead in half, then a five-second call against the hosts gave South Western a chance to tie or win.
Charlie Klecker's 3-point attempt was off the mark, but Ryan Luke tipped it in to force overtime.
"We didn't execute well tonight," South Western coach Nate Brodbeck said. "Basketball is a game of opportunities and we didn't take advantage of our opportunities."
The Mustangs played without their leading scorer, Chase Topper (16.6 points per game), who missed the game with a sprained ankle and is out indefinitely, according to Brodbeck.
"We definitely missed Chase," Brodbeck said. "But we live by 'next man up.' So we'd always like to have him, but we can only control what we can control."
In the opener, Cole Christian led Chambersburg with 19 points and ByShawn Mincie chipped in with 13 off the bench.
For Solanco, Dylan Hastings posted 16 points and 17 boards to go with four blocks.