ENOLA – After a 52-51 loss to Lebanon Catholic in last year’s District 3 Class A boys basketball championship, Greenwood might have had a score to settle with the Beavers in Thursday’s game for third place.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they’ll have to take the aggression from any unsettled business into the state tournament, as a 47-45 loss at East Pennsboro High School gave Greenwood its second-straight playoff loss headed to Hershey.
“Early we really turned the ball over, but that’s kind of to be expected. We have a lineup out there that’s really not used to being together,” said Greenwood coach Kent Houser, whose team was playing without starter Adam Harrison due to an injury in Monday’s overtime loss to Mount Calvary.
Whether it was Harrison’s absence or the intensity of Lebanon Catholic’s full-court press, Greenwood turned the ball over too much during the first three quarters, and despite a fourth-quarter charge to bring the final score within two points, it was this inability to hold on to the ball that resulted in the Greenwood loss.
In the first half, Greenwood scored 10 points each quarter, but could have put up more if not for easy missed shots and poor passing decisions. Tyler Fegley – who finished with a game-high 21 points – provided most of Greenwood’s first half offensive production with 14 points while the Beavers got the same production from guard Anthony Thomas.
Thomas relied on his finesse and jumping ability to score most of his points driving to the basket. Fegley, on the other hand, combined his driving ability with work from the free throw line to score his 14. In fact, it was 4-for-4 shooting from the charity stripe late in the second quarter by Fegley that allowed Greenwood to close the Beavers’ lead to 23-20 at the half despite falling behind by as much as seven points earlier in the second.
“They were pressing, and I thought we finally settled down against the press and did a better job,” Houser said.
This was true of the fourth quarter, but before that point Greenwood only managed to score seven points to Lebanon Catholic’s 10 to trail 33-27 at the end of the third. Three-pointers by Lebanon Catholic’s Anthony Pletz were a large part of the Beavers’ offense, but Thomas was basically finished offensively due to Noah Lebkicher’s defense prowess.
“I thought that was a great individual effort on his part,” Houser said of Lebkicher, who held Thomas to just two points apiece in the third and fourth quarters.
In the final quarter, Greenwood made its run for the win, but ultimately couldn’t pull off the win.
A Lebkicher trey at 4:20, a short jumper from Joe Sheaffer and a buzzer beater by Sheaffer to end the game all brought the Wildcats within two to three points of Lebanon Catholic, but despite Greenwood’s pressure the Beavers always responded with clutch buckets of their own to maintain the slim lead throughout the entire final quarter.
Keys throughout the final quarter were the Beavers’ 6-for-9 effort from the line as Greenwood had to resort to fouling late in the stanza, a five-point effort under the basket from Groh and a balanced offensive attack from the Wildcats.
“We lost the game, but I’m not unhappy. I thought we played hard,” Houser said.
One particular part of the game that pleased Houser was the effort the team put up despite Harrison’s absence.
“(Harrison’s) really been stepping up lately. He’s been having the best part of his season, so it puts everybody into roles that they’re not used to being in at this point in the year. But I thought as the game went on people really adjusted well,” he said.
Greenwood is now 18-7, and awaits seeding for the state tournament.
Looking ahead to the state tournament, Houser said the Wildcats continue to show signs of improvement, and they will see what they can do after a week of practice before competition begins.