GREENCASTLE — The defense for Greencastle-Antrim played well enough to win.
But the Blue Devils’ offense was not up to par against a strong 2-3 zone defense played by Penn Trafford, and it resulted in a 40-39 defeat in a first-round Class 5A girls basketball game in the PIAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
G-A shot only 29.7% (14-for-47) on its home court and could not convert enough times down the stretch to pull it out against the Warriors.
Greencastle’s season ends with a 23-3 record. Penn Trafford (18-9) will play McKeesport, a 54-40 winner over Northern York, in the second round on Wednesday.
“What it came down to was we had the ball in a tie game with 12 seconds left, and I’d take that situation,” Blue Devils coach Mike Rhine said. “But we did not execute.”
G-A’s Haley Noblit pushed the ball down the court following a timeout with 17 seconds left and the score tied at 39-39. She drove the left side and tried to draw contact, but the ball went out of bounds with no call.
Penn Trafford’s Torrie Destefano was then fouled in the back court with 8 seconds left. She made the first to put her team up 40-39, but missed the second and the Blue Devils’ Callie Izer rebounded the ball. Noblit tried a drive on the right side this time, but her bounce pass was picked off.
Greencastle used its quickness on defense to take a 14-7 lead after one quarter, causing eight Penn Trafford turnovers.
In the second period, the Warriors got hot, hitting 8 of 12 shots, and got 10 points from Lillian Palladino to outscore G-A 19-7 and take a 26-21 halftime lead.
“We got in some foul trouble in the second quarter and we couldn’t be as aggressive on defense,” Rhine said.
Penn Trafford’s defense made it difficult for Noblit or Mia Libby to drive, and also put plenty of pressure on 3-point shooters Noblit, Rylee Henson and Libby.
Rhine said, “Their size hurt us in that zone. Their length made a difference and they covered us sideline to sideline.”
A big play happened right at the end of the third quarter. Ahead only 30-29, P-T’s Destefano missed two free throws. But the Warriors got the rebound, missed a shot and Destefano scored on a putback. She turned it into a three-point play with a free throw, giving her team a 33-29 advantage.
“We really didn’t rebound well, especially on some foul shots,” Rhine said. “They were bigger, but we didn’t do as well as we should have.”
The Blue Devils turned up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter and it resulted in 11 P-T turnovers. They simply didn’t convert enough of those opportunities at the other end.
Trailing 37-30, Greencastle got a layup by Libby and two free throws by Noblit to edge within 37-34. Noblit then made one of two free throws and Libby found a hole for another layup to tie the game at 37-37 with 1:34 left.
Olivia Pepple canned a pair of foul shots to give Penn Trafford the lead back, but freshman Callie Izer hit a clutch short jumper after a great pass from Libby to knot the score at 39, leading to the frenzied finish.
Rhine said, “We watched some film this week, and we knew they weren’t you’re typical 7th seed (from District 7). I think early in the week we were still enjoying the district championship, but as the week went on, I think we were ready.
“I’m just sorry it’s over. I love this team — they produced a lot of memories.”
NOTES: Noblit led G-A with 15 points, and Libby, Henson and Izer each scored 6 … Palladino had 12 and Lauren Marton 11 for P-T … Greencastle will graduate seniors Henson, Libby and Julia Herrmann.
Penn Trafford 40, Greencastle 39
Lauren Marton 4 2-5 11, Olivia Pepple 2 2-3 6, Kamtyn Pieper 0 0-0 0, Lillian Palladino 5 0-0 12, Torrie Destefano 3 2-5 8, Bella Klobucar 1 0-0 3. Totals 15 7-13 40.
Haley Noblit4 6-8 15, Audrey Smith 1 0-0 3, Mia Libby 3 0-2 6, Rylee Henson 2 0-0 6, Ainsley Swindell 1 0-0 2, Shaina Overcash 0 1-2 1, Kylie Kerns 0 0-0 0, Meadow Gambacurta 0 0-0 0, Callie Izer 3 0-0 6. Totals 14 7-12 39.
Penn Trafford 7 19 7 7 — 40
Greencastle 14 7 8 10 — 39
3-point shots — PT 4 (Palladino 2, Marton, Klobucar); GA 4 (Henson 2, Noblit, Smith). Shooting — PT 15-37 (40.5%); GA 14-47 (29.7%). Turnovers — PT 23; GA 12.