STATE COLLEGE - Sometimes the toughest opponents in sports are the ones with nothing but pride to play for, and Friday night the Mifflin County boys ran into one.
The State College boys basketball team has played most of its opponents close, but still came into Friday night's matchup against Mifflin County sporting a 1-6 record in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division.
For most of the contest, the Little Lions held a lead and with six minutes left in the contest held a 13-point lead and looked ready to upset the Huskies as they were led by Michael Beattie's game-high 26 points.
However, the Huskies were unphased by the deficit and poured it on offensively while holding State College at bay.
As a result, with the game tied at 64 and seconds left on the clock, Mifflin County's Hunter Wright took charge of the ball and went pounding down the middle, getting fouled in the process.
After making the first shot from the charity stripe, Wright missed the second free throw, purposefully leaving no time for the Lions to get a shot off. It resulted in the hard fought win for the Huskies, and also clinched a spot in the District 6 Class AAAA tournament.
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County hosts Carlisle Wednesday
In the second half, Mifflin County was crisp, giving up just three turnovers.
"It was a very good game. It was an exciting game," Mifflin County coach Aaron Gingrich said. "State College is much better than their records indicate. Our defensive effort or lack thereof in the first half coupled with a very boisterous student section for them as well as senior night gave them a lot of confidence. When you give a team with pride like State College you'll get a close game.
"We had to fight back in the second half to take their will away from them. I was so proud of the guys for the effort they put forth down the stretch."
When the buzzer sounded to start the final stanza, Mifflin County found itself trailing 50-40.
Ross Torquato got the Huskies' scoring under way as he muscled his way inside and put in a difficult shot, cutting the lead to eight.
State College came back strong scoring on its next two possessions as a jumper by Alex McCann and a triple by Michael Beattie put the Little Lions ahead 55-42 with 6:03 left.
From there, the Huskies began their attack at the lead. Mifflin County went on an 8-0 run, sparked by John Michael Maclay's two free throws and his steal that he was able to complete down in the Huskies' basket, cutting the lead to 55-50. Maclay led all Mifflin County scorers with 18.
State College's Bryce Williams ended the run, hitting on an offensive put back, putting the Little Lions' back up by seven with 4:52.
With 3:57 left, Mifflin County tied the game for the first time since early in the first thanks to two free throws and an inside drive for a bucket by Wright, knotting it at 54. Wright finished the game with an 11-point effort.
However, State College still had some fight left as the Little Lions battled to take a six-point lead.
Close games are nothing new to the Huskies, and as quickly as the seven-point lead was registered it dissolved to just a three-point advantage as sharp shooter Evan Seby made a rare four-point play as he was fouled after hitting a triple. Seby also finished in double figures as well, finishing with a 10-point effort.
Mifflin County pulled ahead with a 1:20 left after a Nate Koller drive inside. Koller also finished the day with 10 points.
State College tied the game with 55 seconds left when Patrick Irwin, hit 1-of-2 while trailing 64-63.
But the night belonged to Mifflin County as the Huskies held for the last shot and were successful, winning 65-64.
With the win, Mifflin County evens its record to 8-8.
Mifflin County opened the game strong as well as it finished the first quarter with a 15-12 lead.
The second and third quarters were good for the home team as they combined for 38 points while Mifflin County scored only 25.
Mifflin County also had an exciting junior varsity contest as the Huskies battled back from a double-digit deficit to hit on a buzzer beater to take the 48-47 victory.
The Huskies hosts Carlisle Wednesday.