Greenwood falls 52-51 in heart-breaking thriller

HERSHEY – The boys District 3 Class A Championship lived up to the billing and then some.

The game pitted the district’s two premier small-school programs in Greenwood – the defending champion which has four district titles in its resume – and Lebanon Catholic, which had claimed three going in. Both teams’s experience manifested itself in the fortitude to not give up during stretches when the game could have gotten away from either side.

In the end, it was the ice water in the veins of Lebanon Catholic senior Timmy Orr, who sank the front end of a one-and-one with 3.5 seconds left to break a 51-51 tie, which delivered Beaver coach Scott Clentimack his fourth district gold.

Coming out of a time out with 31 ticks of the clock left, Clentimack told his senior he wanted him to hold for the last shot and then drive the lane to either get the bucket or get to the line.

“There is nobody I would rather have get the basketball in the end than Orr. This is his team, he got us here,” Clentimack said.

Orr’s dramatics concluded a devastating 20-point performance that proved a death knell to Greenwood, which had fought and clawed its way back into the contest via a dramatic 14-3 fourth-quarter run to pull even.

At the start it looked like Greenwood could cakewalk its way to the crown as it built a 9-0 lead while the crowd was still settling into the cavernous Giant Center.

However, the Wildcats were bit by the turnover bug (13 in the first half) which allowed the Beavers back in the contest. Overall, 17 Greenwood possessions ended in turnovers to just two (none after the first quarter) for Lancaster Catholic.

“We had some stretches where we made some bad decisions. We just weren’t on the right page at times tonight,” Greenwood coach Kent Houser said.

While the Wildcats shot 56 percent in the first 16 minutes, and the Beavers connected on just 39 percent of their shots, the Lebanon Catholic was able to put the ball up a dozen more times, and connected on two more shots (11 to 9).

Adam Harrison and Ryan Kerstetter each scored five in the first for the Wildcats to build the lead, but an Orr three-point play at the buzzer cut the Wildcat lead to 14-11 after one.

The Beavers would pull even in the early second on the strength of free throws and then go ahead as Alex Frattaroli went off for seven in the quarter.

Greenwood’s Tyler Fegley kept his squad in the contest by scoring 10 of his team-high 18 in the frame while connecting on three 3-pointers as Lancaster Catholic took a narrow 27-26 lead to intermission.

Greenwood’s hot shooting would cool off in the third, as the Wildcats connected on just two-of-eleven attempts, while the Beavers found their stroke connecting on five-of-ten and built a 31-25 lead heading to the final period.

Greenwood’s chances were diminished as well when Fegley picked up his fourth foul late in the third.

While he was out, Lebanon Catholic stretched its advantage to 48-37. Facing desperation, Houser checked Fegley back into the lineup and it seemed to lift the Wildcats as they would go on a 14-3 run to pull even. Greenwood connected on seven of ten field goal attempts in the final frame.

Kerstetter connected on a pair of 3-pointers and Harrison’s basket with 35 seconds to go knotted the score at 51-all.

“The comeback was incredible,” Houser said. “Under all the circumstances they were facing – the foul trouble, calls not going our way – our kids responded really well. I’m proud of them.”

In addition to Fegley’s 18, Kerstetter finished in double-digits with 13. Ferguson and Harrison each had nine points. Harrison also led all rebounders with eight. The Wildcats were strong on the glass winning the battle of the boards 31-21. Greenwood also stood out at the line, connecting on seven-of-eight attempts.

In addition to Orr’s 20, Anthony Thomas was a pain in Greenwood’s side, delivering 13 points, five rebounds and five steals for Catholic, while Alex Frattaroli contributed a dozen points to the cause.

Greenwood will begin its run in the state tournament Friday. The game location, opponent and time are yet to be determined.