Game of the Week: Boiling Springs at Greencastle
When the Greencastle-Antrim girls basketball team returned to school after losing its first regular season game since January of last year, the team was asked, "What happened?" over, and over, and over.
"Nothing happened," Greencastle coach Mike Rhine said. "Boiling Springs played better."
The Bubblers handed Greencastle its first and only loss this season, 63-54 on Dec. 18, and the Blue Devils have a bad taste in their mouths since. And with a division championship hanging in the balance, Friday's home match is the most important game so far this season.
"They're tired of talking about (last time) and they're tired of analyzing what went wrong," Rhine said. "I don't know what's going to happen, but (Boiling Springs) has something we desire to get back."
A win for Greencastle (14-1, 7-1 MPC) would give the Blue Devils a chance to tie for first place in the Mid Penn Colonial Division, and puts them one step closer to the ultimate goal - a second consecutive District 3 championship.
And with the team's first loss out of the way, and the excitement of having two 1,000-point scorers behind them, Rhine said the girls can point all of their energy to Friday.
"The kids are refocusing," Rhine said. "It's all Boiling Springs, solely."
The Bubblers (16-1) sit in the top spot of the Colonial with an 8-0 record, and a chance to play spoiler for an unbelievable record in the Devil's Den.
It has been 1,085 days since Greencastle lost a girls game at home, with its last defeat coming on Feb. 1, 2013 against Biglerville. Greencastle's leading scorer Jenay Faulkner was in eighth grade.
"That's pretty amazing; I had no idea," Boiling Springs coach Kyle Watkins said. "We would love to change that.
"Obviously we are hoping to go down there and be as focused as possible. But we know they have been waiting for us to come down to their gym."
Friday will be a test of experience. Boiling Springs dresses seven seniors, while Greencastle has three seniors and dresses six underclassmen on varsity.
"Our opponents can't really key in on one or two players," Watkins said. "We have a multitude of players on any given night, depending on how they're playing, who can step up not just on offense, but we have a few defenders that are difficult to score on. And it's pretty unique to have seven seniors fighting for each other."
But Greencastle's core three - Faulkner, Hannah Crist and Meghan Hirneisen - are anything but inexperienced, with the Blue Devils averaging more than 46 points per game from their top three.
Rhine, however, expects a big game from Morgan Wagaman, a junior playing in her first varsity season.
"I think she's huge in this game, which is deceptive with her being 5-foot-3," Rhine joked. "She guards very tightly and she doesn't foul. She has a mid-range jump shot, and that's going to be the shot that's open. She could be a key factor in this game."
Greencastle is also coming off a two game week, surviving one of its biggest challenges of the year in a comeback win over Delone Catholic on Monday, and an area rivalry against James Buchanan on Tuesday, which Rhine said can only be an advantage for the Blue Devils.
"Monday couldn't have gone any better," Rhine said. "But if you would have asked me at halftime (trailing 26-17) I would have said it couldn't have been worse. We kept our composure, and you have to be confident after that."
Greencastle's composure is something Watkins said most impressed him early this season.
"When I watch them play, they are never rattled," Watkins said. "I've never seen their facial expressions change, whether they are pounding the other team or fighting back. They are really locked in, and that's extremely dangerous. It's a real advantage."
Boiling Springs travels to Greencastle on six days of rest, which Watkins hopes isn't a disadvantage.
Bubblers-Blue Devils at a glance
Game data: Boiling Springs Bubblers at Greencastle-Antrim Blue Devils girls basketball... Friday, 6 p.m. (time change due to weather) ... Mid Penn Colonial Division game.
Media: Follow @EdGotwalsPO on Twitter for live updates ... Livestream will be available on GameTimePA.com and midpennbroadcasting.com.
Teams: Greencastle's only loss of the season came at the hands of the Bubblers (16-1, 8-0 MPC) ... Greencastle (14-1, 7-1 MPC) has won 10 straight.
Series: Boiling Springs won the first meeting 63-54.
P.O. pick: Greencastle by 8.