By Matt Kellam
Johnstown—The last time the Shippensburg Greyhounds won a state basketball playoff game was 1987. That 33 year drought ended Friday night with a come-from-behind 60-53 win over district six champion Greater Johnstown.
With the win, the Greyhounds, 20-8, advance to the round of 16 Tuesday night against district 3 champ, Muhlenberg. The site and time will be determined over the weekend.
Jeremy Thomas, who led all scorers with 18 points, scored the first two points of the game for the Greyhounds, but seven straight points from Isaiah Mutula put the Trojans on top. They led by as many as seven points before Shippensburg closed to within four, 16-12, at the end of the quarter.
Mutula finished the quarter with 10 points for the Trojans.
Thomas hit his second three of the night at the beginning of the second quarter to cut the lead to one, but Johnstown again answered and maintained the lead at the half, 29-25.
Shippensburg head coach Ray Staver said, “We told the team at halftime that if you want to win a game like this in this situation, you have to be tougher and clearly in the second half we were the tougher team both physically and mentally.”
Two Isaiah Houser free throws gave the Greyhounds the lead at 38-37, but a Joziah Wyatt-Taylor free throw and a two three point shots by Gershon Simon sandwiched around a three by Jayden Statum gave the Trojans a 44-41 lead heading into the final quarter.
A pivotal point of the game occurred early in the fourth quarter when Taylor picked up his fourth foul for the Trojans and was forced to the bench. He would not return until 3:07 was left in the game.
An offensive put back by Omarion Harris gave the Trojans their last lead at 51-50.
Back to back baskets by Thomas and Anthony Smith gave Shippensburg a 54-51 lead and prompted a time out by Trojan head coach Ryan Durham.
Greater Johnstown held the ball for nearly two minutes before an attempted three by Simon missed the mark and Smith came down with the rebound.
“I don’t think I’ve ever coached in a situation where we played defense that long in one possession and then we had the ability to get the rebound,” added coach Staver. “For all intents and purposes, that really took the wind out of their sails.”
With the score 56-51, Statum was fouled but missed both free throws. Smith got the rebound off the second miss, but a steal and layup cut the lead back to three.
Isaiah Houser was fouled on the inbound and made both free throws with 16.8 seconds left.
Anthony Smith put the exclamation point on the night when Thomas hit him with a long pass off an inbound play and he jammed it home for the final margin of victory.
“It was a great feeling to come out here in their backyard and get the win,” said Jeremy Thomas. “They’re a good team-they were very physical.”
Statum, who finished with 14 points, added, “This win is number one in my high school career. Our fans were the sixth man tonight.”
Notes: Of the nine teams representing district 3 in the state tournament, seven won, including ninth seed York Suburban with an upset of district seven champion, Laurel Highlands. The two teams that lost were Gettysburg and Northern York.
Shippensburg 60, Greater Johnstown 53
Jayden Statum 5 3-6 14, Isaiah Houser 3 4-4 10, Collin Taylor 3 2-3 8, Jeremy Thomas 6 4-6 18, Anthony Smith 4 2-2 10. Totals: 21 15-21 60.
Joziah Wyatt-Taylor 4 3-4 11, Gershon Simon 5 0-0 13, Dequandre Williams 1 0-0 2, Tyjon Jones1 0-0 2, Isaiah Mutula 5 3-3 14, Drey Toney 1 1-2 4 Omarian Harris 3 0-0 7. Totals: 20 7-9 53.
Shippensburg 12 13 16 19 60
Greater Johnstown 16 13 15 9 53
Three Point shots-Shippensburg 3 (Thomas 2, Statum) Greater Johnstown 6 (Simon 3, Mutula, Toney, Harris)