Greencastle-Antrim completes rebound, captures District 3 title against York Suburban
On February 25, 2022, Greencastle-Antrim, the No. 3 seed in districts, was upset at home by Lower Dauphin. For a group that was poised for big things, it was a disappointment.
And that has stayed with them for over a year, motivating them to not have a repeat.
“Last year hurt a lot. I don’t think I got out of bed for a couple days," Rylee Henson said. "I was not letting that happen again. At halftime, I told this team that I was not letting this slip through my fingers again.”
Thursday, the Blue Devils jumped out in front early and never let the lead go, rolling to a 44-30 victory over York Suburban in the District 3 Class 5A championship to claim the program's second district title.
Postgame, head coach Mike Rhine remembered back to a quote Henson gave a month back, ironically following a win over York Suburban, as the Blue Devils prepared for the postseason.
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Henson said "it’s going to be hard to stop us and if someone does, they’re going to have to earn it."
Rhine said that describes his team in a nutshell.
“That stood out to me. That’s exactly right," Rhine said. "We have been beaten. We’ve been beaten plenty. But if you’re going to, you’re going to have to earn it. We’re not going to give it to you.”
And on Thursday, they didn't give the district title away. Here's how they got it done:
What it means
Greencastle was the No. 1 seed after a stellar regular season that saw it only drop one game, so the pressure was on. But the Blue Devils did what they had to do, winning all three of their district games by at least 14 points.
"We’ve been No. 1 all year, the computer likes who they like, we’ll take it," head coach Mike Rhine said. "To have that bull's-eye is even more pressure, and they just deflected it all, stayed focused and got it done.”
This game is also a signature moment in the careers of Mia Libby and Rylee Henson, who worked for four years to get to this moment.
“We’ve worked so hard for this," Libby said. "Everybody, as a team, we just worked really hard for this. The staff, everybody on this team, we put in so much effort for this, it feels amazing.”
Libby and Henson were also stalwarts for the girls' soccer team, who also got close to district titles, but couldn't get all the way there.
They've played in many district tournaments across multiple sports, and in their last one, they finished the job.
“Me and Mia have worked our butt off in this program, we’ve given this school everything we could," Henson said. "We work every single day and it’s paid off. It feels so good to give this team the medal that they deserve.”
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Haley Noblit, a junior who has also been a force for both the basketball and soccer team for years, has seen how much her senior teammates wanted this.
“They all worked their butts off, they led our team," Noblit said. "Coming off of soccer, after we lost that, that just pushed us even more to win here.”
Rhine saw how much last year hurt, and how losing in the soccer district finals in the fall, affected them, and knew that they'd get the job done this time around.
“I promised them, I probably shouldn’t have, but I did, I said, ‘The next medal you get will be from me, and it will be gold.’" Rhine said. "Fortunately, God allowed that to happen.”
Greencastle met York Suburban less than a month ago, in a game that was decided by four points. For the Blue Devils, one thing about that game stayed the same, and one thing changed.
What stayed the same was Haley Noblit's production. The junior had 28 points that night, and all of them were important.
On Thursday, she stayed on, finishing with a game-high 19 points. She was efficient from the foul line, going 8-of-10, and she hit three 3-pointers in the game.
“One of the reasons I came to this school was I knew I’d be playing with [Noblit] for three years," Libby said. "She’s just phenomenal, she’s our rock. If we need to score, she’s the one that gets the bucket for us.”
Rhine was not surprised by this development.
“Big Game Haley," Rhine said. "When she gets zeroed in on something, she gets it done.”
What changed from the last time the Blue Devils faced the Trojans, was in that contest, Henson was shut down, finishing with only five points.
That wasn't the case on Thursday, as she finished with 12 points, including three 3-pointers.
The familiarity could have made things difficult for Greencastle, but instead it proved that this team is just hard to stop.
“We were worried going into this game saying ‘they know us, they’re going to try and stop us somehow’ but even if you try and stop one of us, they can’t guard all of us," Noblit said. "We have a whole team of players ready to step up.”
Mia Libby wouldn't usually classify as an unsung hero, but this game was an off-shooting night for the senior. She finished with only four points in the game but made her impact elsewhere.
She was a strong defensive presence and acted as a senior leader for the group.
“Mia just couldn’t get anything to fall today ... But she does so many other things," Rhine said. "I was walking into the locker room at halftime, she was already in there, she’s up on the whiteboard telling us what we did wrong defensively. She’s installing the second half gameplan. She takes over.”
The Blue Devils also got strong production from the bench, with Ainsley Swindell and Shaina Overcast controlling the boards all night. Swindell also added six points, and freshman Callie Izer got in and scored three points.
In addition, senior Julia Hermann got into the game in the final moment, a special moment for her and her teammates.
Greencastle's run isn't over, as the Blue Devils head to the state tournament, which begins March 11, where they will face the seventh-place team from District 7. But anything the team achieves in that run will be just something extra.
“Icing on the cake. Whatever happens at states happens. No pressure," Rhine said. "We’ll give them our best shot, but we’ve been talking since the night we lost to Lower Dauphin last year. I've been saying, ‘March 2nd, March 2nd.’ All the focus has been on this game, to get to this game.”
The state run is one more opportunity for this team and this group of seniors to play together, something they will definitely savor.
“There’s not one word that can sum up this team," Libby said. "We’re good friends on and off this court, we love each other so much. We play together, we do life together, and to win this together is just one more accomplishment in our bag.”
Rhine summed up everything pretty perfectly after this one.
“Today’s just a beautiful day in Greencastle.”
Dylan Jacobs is the sports reporter in Franklin County, PA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org