HERSHEY >> There was no denying the West Perry Mustangs or star Megan Smith.
For Susquehannock, it was a second straight year of disappointment in the District 3 Class AAA finals.
The 10th-seeded Mustangs knocked off the top-seeded Warriors, 48-46, to win the title in a game that ended in back-and-forth fashion.
Susquehannock senior Katie Wagner cracked the 1,000-point mark off a Jess Voltaggio steal, beating the third-quarter buzzer. Wagner needed seven points to reach the mark and finished with 11. Shannon Druck had a team-high 15 points.
But the game ultimately belonged to Indiana University of Pennsylvania-bound Smith and the Mustangs (21-5), who won their 15th straight game. They led all the way until a Druck jumper with about six minutes left. At that point, Susquehannock (23-5) looked to have seized momentum.
West Perry had other plans. A putback by 5-foot-8 senior Emma Harris off a missed free throw gave the lead back to West Perry at 44-42, then junior Caitlyn Lavenberg found Smith off a half-court inbounds pass with 1:01 left.
The difference was too much, and so was Smith, who scored 19.
"I had just talked about that," Susquehannock coach Dave Schreiner said of the timeout before Lavenberg's pass. "The hardest thing for the kids is they expected to win this."
Schreiner's team was in West Perry's position a year ago, advancing to the final before losing to top-seeded Palmyra. This year, the Warriors came in with the top district rating and 14 wins in their last 15.
Smith, a 5-11 forward, scored the game's first four points. She had the Mustangs in control for the first half, but Susquehannock found a spark with Wagner's milestone. The Warriors finally led with Druck's jumper early in the fourth and held a slim lead — no greater than four — until the final three minutes.
"They got a lead on us, but I don't think for a second we doubted we could pull it off," Smith said.
They did it against Lancaster Catholic in the semifinals. Why not once more for a team that had not advanced out of the first round in Smith's first three years of high school.
"We dreamed of this," she said. "Our goal was to win a district game. We won four now."
The number four also proved a haunting number to Schreiner, who lamented four straight possessions that resulted in turnovers to keep his program from winning its first district title.
Another haunting number for Susquehannock: 12-of-49 shooting from the floor.
The offense was nearly lifted by the defense, as Wagner's six steals helped lead to 18 West Perry turnovers. Susquehannock was not much better, committing 15.
Schreiner said he thought his team might have held a false sense of security, thinking it could "hit the gas" in the final three minutes.
Instead, West Perry was the one to do so.
"Down the stretch in our games, we really understood what we needed to do as far as finishing," Schreiner said. "I thought we got a little too aggressive and careless when we needed to remember what it was that got us here."
WEST PERRY (48)
Madison Urich 5 4-4 14, Megan Smith 8 3-6 19, Hile 2 0-0 5, Harris 1 1-2 3, Lavenberg 0 1-2 1, Stauffer 2 0-0 4, Knisely 0 2-3 2.
Totals — 18 11-17 48.
Fancher 2 0-1 5, Barnhart 0 1-2 1, Stone 3 1-2 8, Shannon Druck 3 8-10 15, Katie Wagner 3 5-6 11, Lebo 0 1-2 1, Voltaggio 1 3-4 5.
Totals — 12 19-27 46.
3-point goals — WP 1 (Hile), S 3 (Fancher, Stone, Druck).