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Dist. 3-AAAA: G-A boys overcome Manheim Twp. push

NEFFSVILLE – The Greencastle-Antrim boys basketball team earned itself at least one more bus nap.

Fueled by its defense, particularly a righteous 2-3 zone that caused Manheim Township fits, the 18th-seeded Blue Devils bounced the Blue Streaks 47-42 Friday night in a District 3-AAAA play-in game in Lancaster County.

Brandon Stuhler and Casey Hoover scored 12 points each to lead Greencastle, which advances to Wednesday’s first round at No. 2 seed and tournament favorite Reading High.

That trip will put even more mileage on the team bus, as Hoover said he and his teammates slept for much of Friday night’s two-hour trip from Franklin County.

“We’ll have the music on,” the 6-1 junior said of the long rides. “We’ll sleep, we’ll eat, and once we get close we’ll kind of get up, move around the bus a bit, joke around and have a good time.”

Clearly still sleepy at the start of Friday’s contest, the Blue Devils fell behind 7-0 and didn’t score until Stuhler’s put-back midway through the first quarter.

But Greencastle (15-7) slowly erased that deficit, riding strong defense that ultimately forced 19 turnovers from Manheim Twp. (13-10).

Down five at halftime (24-19), the Devils’ largest deficit hit eight points early in the third after a 3-pointer by John Stutz, who led the Streaks with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals.

Teammate David DiMeo scored all 10 of his points in the first half.

But Greencastle, on the strength of Hoover’s six points, forged a 34-34 tie by the end of the third stanza.

Then, a couple of minutes into the fourth, Stuhler’s 3-pointer gave the Devils the lead for good.

Spencer Meyers (10 points) and Ian Gelsinger (7 points) combined to knock down four-of-four free throws in the final minute to seal the program’s first district playoff victory since 2012.

“It was familiar territory,” Greencastle coach Gary Martin said of rallying from behind. “We’ve had some ugly wins, and we’re not too proud to take them. We’ll get ‘em anyway we can.”

Greencastle overcame 15 of its own turnovers, made 18 of 39 shots and finished with a 24-23 edge on the glass. Bryan Gembe grabbed a game-high seven rebounds to go with four points and four assists.

The Devils held the Streaks’ dynamite freshman guard, Tyler Crespo, to just two points. Saddled with foul trouble, it was Crespo’s lowest output since Dec. 16. The Streaks, under first-year coach Matt Johns, were chasing their first district playoff since 2005.

“I thought they played harder, and I thought they wanted it more than us,” said Johns, whose team made 17 of 39 shots. “It’s amazing. We saw a very similar zone last week, and we did fine against it against Warwick. We prepared for this. It’s a little disappointing we looked like we hadn’t seen one before.”

Greencastle 47, Manheim Twp. 42

Greencastle (47)

Brandon Stuhler 5 0-0 12, Sam Sprague 1 0-0 2, Ian Gelsinger 2 3-3 7, Casey Hoover 6 0-1 12, Bryan Gembe 1 2-4 4, Spencer Meyers 3 3-3 10, Ben Freeman 0 0-0 0, Camron Hileman 0 0-0 0, Matt Lutz 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 8-11 47.

Manheim Twp. (42) 

Tyler Crespo 1 0-0 2, John Stutz 4 1-2 12, David DiMeo 4 0-0 10, Jordan Phillips 2 1-1 5, A.J. McCloud 1 0-0 2, Michael Sharpe 3 0-0 6, Brian Hines 0 0-0 0, Nick Vicidomini 2 1-3 5. Totals — 17 3-6 42.

Greencastle _ 9 _ 10 _ 15 _ 13 _ — _ 47

Manheim Twp. _ 9 _ 15 _ 10 _ 8 _ — _ 42

3-point goals — GA 3 (Stuhler 2, Meyers); MT 5 (Stutz 3, DiMeo 2).