Montour boys ousted in Class AAA semifinals
CHAMBERSBURG — Montour seemed to be on its way toward a double-digit loss until the Spartans suddenly rallied from 12 points down in the fourth quarter.
With 59.7 seconds left, the score was tied.
Yet, with hopes for a third consecutive trip to the state championship back within its grasp, Montour went scoreless in that final minute Tuesday of a 50-45 semifinal loss to Archbishop Carroll in the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball playoffs.
That moment of hope made this loss all the more painful.
“It does hurt,” said Montour coach Adam Kaufman, “but that's our guys. That's their character. They continue to push and fight and push and push.”
This was the final game for a senior class that won two WPIAL championships and was state runner-up the past two seasons, led by star point guard Devin Wilson.
Montour (24-5) had rallied in similar fashion to win the WPIAL title a little more than two weeks ago, but this comeback fell just short.
“This is a team that's special,” Wilson said. “We never stop fighting.”
Archbishop Carroll (23-6) of Philadelphia's Catholic League was the fourth-place team from District 12.
Wilson had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, and Justin Hill added 10 points. Carroll's Derrick Jones, a 6-foot-5 sophomore drawing Division I offers, had 21 points.
With 4:39 left, Montour trailed, 44-33, never led and hadn't been within seven points of Archbishop Carroll since the second quarter. The Spartans had shot poorly — making just one of their first eight 3-pointers — and allowed 11 offensive rebounds to a team with a 6-foot-9 center.
“They took away our driving lanes and left open people who weren't really shooters,” Wilson said. “It left us in a bind a little bit.”
Then came a surprising 12-1 run as Montour attacked the basket.
It started with a shot by Hill with 4:25 left, a layup and free throws by Wilson, and a 3-pointer by Kevin Scuilli. Four more free throws by Wilson followed, including a game-tying pair with 59.7 seconds left.
But Montour lost some of the patience it had shown all season. Two aggressive shots — a missed jumper from the corner by Rob Julian and a contested layup by Hill — went against Montour's typical approach.
Neither possession involved Wilson, who had 15 points.
“At that point in the game, we need to make sure the right guy has the ball,” Kaufman said. “They did a good job of doubling Devin and making him give it up.”
An easy layup by Carroll's 6-9 sophomore, Ernest Aflakpui, and two free throws by sophomore Nick Jones built a 49-45 lead with 25.2 seconds left.
Montour's rally stalled completely when Wilson drove to the basket with 20 seconds left, missed and didn't receive the foul call he and his coach expected.
“(The ref) said I held it until the last possible second, and he didn't touch me,” said Wilson, who disagreed. “Whatever he says goes.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.