G-A holds off Scouts for district hoops title

JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot
From left in front, Jenay Faulkner, Jane Herman, Katie Gelsinger, Hannah Crist and Meghan Hirneisen are all smiles after winning the district crown.

HERSHEY — C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E.

The Greencastle-Antrim High School girls’ basketball team showed it when up by 18 early in the second half and down by two with seconds on the clock of Saturday’s District 3-AAA Championship game at Hershey’s Giant Center. Along with skill and composure the Blue Devils captured the program’s first district title by a 57-52 score over Conrad Weiser.

“Winning the first couple of games (of the district tournament) gave us confidence and confidence is key,” said senior Katie Gelsinger, who sank two free throws in the final half minute to put the game out of reach for the Scouts.

“There's nothing more important than that. Yes, making foul shots or getting rebounds is important, but you have to have confidence to do it. I don't doubt that we wanted this more than any other team here and we got it done.”

And composure

G-A got it done by beating the Scouts at their own game. However, perimeter shooting happens to also be the Devils’ game. Four of G-A’s eight three-point buckets on the game came in the first quarter on their way to a 20-11 advantage at the first buzzer. More of the same made it a 32-17 halftime score. After the break the Devils widened the gap to as much as 18. Weiser made two runs at G-A after that, getting to within five and then two. The Devils answered each time.

“We kept our composure even though it got way closer than it should have gotten. We just stayed a team,” related senior Jane Herman.

“They are a quick team, but I think we were ready. We had a lot of adrenaline. Getting a good start in the beginning was very important. It was good that we were all just dropping some shots. I think that definitely brought us some confidence to get it done.”

Herman had two of the treys early in the game along with a long-range two en route to an 11-point performance. Jenay Faulkner led the offensive output with 20 points that included four three-points and Hannah Crist added a dozen with a pair of treys.

Going in G-A head coach Mike Rhine saw a lot happening on the perimeter against Conrad Weiser, “I said threes would be a big part of the game. They are known for it with 150-some on the season, but we actually have about 160.

“Jane was humungous in the first half. Then we got a little tired. We got a little luck at the end with some of their balls rolling around that could have gone in. We count our lucky stars.”

The Scouts put in five three-pointers.

When Conrad Weiser made its runs, Meghan Hirneisen was also key at the free throw line, going 3-for-4. The junior also put in a critical layup on a Faulkner assist at crunch time.

Rhine said, “We couldn't foul at the end and they were driving right by us. We couldn't let them just stand there and shoot a three. We needed to get some luck. A few of their shots were right there and they bounced out. So we got a bit lucky at the end, but we made our free throws and controlled the basketball and played a pretty good last two and a half three minutes to seal the deal.”

Once again Gelsinger pointed to that “C” word to describe the way the Devils reacted to the Scouts’ advances.

“Five points seemed too close, but if you buckle down and play hard and strong with confidence it works,” Gelsinger said.

On a roll

Crist said the win earlier in the week over previously unbeaten West York was a plus as well, “It gave us a really big confidence boost. We were shocked and very happy. We were pumped for this game too. We knew we had to play this game too. That was really big for us.”

Rhine knew he had a group with strong mettle. His five starters played on the District 3-AA champion soccer team for G-A last fall. Ironically that title game win came over Conrad Weiser as well.

“They've already been in battles like this. They're battle tested. They've already done it. They've already been on the big stage. They never ever go in thinking they are the underdog or they are going to lose. They think they are the best players and the best team. They aren't going to settle for anything less. They are as tough as nails. I love these kids.”