GameTimePA reporters Teddy Feinberg and Jim Seip discuss potential District 3 basketball title teams from the YAIAA. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
Spring Grove's Jake Messersmith set a new career scoring high in the first quarter alone as the Rockets beat New Oxford, 73-46, in the first round of the District 3 Class 5A boys' basketball tournament Monday night.
Messersmith buried four 3-pointers in the first quarter, breaking his previous career high of 10 points, to help the host Rockets punch their ticket to the PIAA tournament. Spring Grove will host Manheim Central in the district quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday. Manheim Central earned its spot by defeating Waynesboro, 71-51.
Messersmith made all four of his attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
"Coach (James Brooks) tells me to go to the corner, have my feet set and shoot the ball when it comes to me," Messersmith said. "(New Oxford) were doubling and tripling Eli (Brooks), and he found me for open shots."
Spring Grove (19-6) sped to a 13-2 lead and pushed the margin to 19-7 after the opening quarter.
The visitors responded with a strong start to the second quarter, and a 3-pointer by Ben Lehman shaved the deficit to 27-20 with 4:12 to play until the break. But the Rockets righted the ship in a hurry and led 37-26 at halftime.
Brooks scored seven points during Spring Grove's 11-2 run, helping the Rockets open up a 48-28 lead. They led 56-35 after three quarters.
Messersmith made 6-of-9 from 3-point land and finished the night with a career-high 20 points.
"Jake was the only kid that could beat Eli in shooting when they were younger," James Brooks said. "So we want him shooting the ball when he has his feet set."
It was the third time in three meetings this season in which the Colonials were burned by someone other than Eli Brooks. Austin Panter set a career high with 21 points in the first matchup, and Drew Gordon tossed in 20 in the second, both Spring Grove victories.
"I joked with their coach before the game that someone other than Eli would burn us tonight, and it was Messersmith," New Oxford coach Sean Bair said. "We can't gameplan for that. We're not going to guard him tight and let Eli go off on us."
Brooks finished the night with 21 points, 18 boards and seven assists. He now sits at third on the YAIAA all-time scoring list for boys with 2,257 points and at least four more games to play. Next up on the list for him to pursue is 2007 York Catholic grad Jacob Iati, who scored 2,388 points.
New Oxford (11-11) will play at Waynesboro at 7 p.m. Thursday with the season on the line for both teams. If the Colonials can win their next two games, they can still qualify for the state tournament, which accepts 10 teams from District 3.
"The guys are disappointed that they lost tonight. They're upset, and that's good. It shows how much they've worked and how much they care," Bair said. "We'll get back to practice on (Tuesday) and get ready for Waynesboro."
For Eli Brooks, the matchup with Manheim Central means that he will face AAU teammate Taylor Funk, a 6-foot-9 St. Joseph's University signee. The duo played AAU ball together for the Jersey Warriors.
"It'll be fun to compete against Taylor," Eli Brooks said. "He's a great player and a really good friend of mine."