WILLIAMSBURG - High school basketball has been a way of life in the tiny community of Williamsburg for years.
Both boys and girls teams have won PIAA state championships - the boys in 1958 and 1966 and the girls in 1997 - and both programs have produced outstanding players and coaches.
Although Thursday's girls game between the Lady Pirates and the Claysburg-Kimmel Lady Bulldogs - Williamsburg won, 32-29 - won't go down as one of the best ever played, it was special in more ways than one.
Don and Jeff Appleman were two of the better players in WHS history and both have carved outstanding careers as high school coaches, too. Although they've been coaching for a combined 54 seasons, Thursday was the first time they ever coached against each other.
The gym was packed for the Inter-County Conference North Division game, and Dick Buckley, who coached both of the Applemans in high school, was on hand to watch his former players roam the sidelines.
The Applemans and Buckley received standing ovations when introduced prior to tipoff. Plaques were presented to Buckley, whose Pirates won the Class A state title in 1966 and to C-K's Jeff Appleman, who coached the state-champion Lady Pirates in 1997. Lois Appleman, Jeff's wife and assistant coach, was presented a bouquet of flowers.
The hospitality stopped there, however, as the Lady Pirates pulled off a shocker on the court, rallying in the second half to knock off the favored Lady Bulldogs.
"They're pretty good," Don Appleman said of C-K. "They just ran into a night where they couldn't hit anything. I've watched them and followed them in the paper, and they usually make those shots.
"We stayed back in that zone defense, and they couldn't make a shot," Don Appleman said. "Then they tried to force it inside and we were there. Then they started making mistakes and turnovers.
"They're very good and well-coached," Don Appleman said. "They'll probably end up in the top three or four in the district."
"This was a great high school game," Jeff Appleman said. "It wasn't the No. 1 team playing the No. 2 team in the state, but it felt like it tonight.
"It was a tremendous atmosphere," Jeff Appleman said. "I can't say enough about it. I coached about 200 games here [Williamsburg] and I know the other side doesn't win very often, and we didn't tonight."
A pair of 3-pointers by Hailey McCall and a trey by Kara Stayduhar gave Williamsburg its first lead, 23-19, with 3:45 left in the third quarter. C-K bounced back, though, to reclaim the lead, 24-23, after three quarters.
The Lady Pirates dug deep in the fourth, however. Stayduhar's 3 put the Pirates back on top and the senior guard then converted 1-of-2 free throws. Sophomore Madison Detwiler short bank shot gave the hosts a 29-24 lead at the 3:03 mark.
Paige Burk's 3 finally gave C-K some points with 2:34 left, but the Bulldogs couldn't pull out the win. Williamsburg's Emily Shaw sank two free throws to make it 31-27 with 2:26 to go.
Five free throws were missed in the next two minutes - three by Williamsburg and two by C-K - but both teams had chances late. C-K's Abby Kulick hit a driving layup with 23 seconds left before Stayduhar's free throw made it 32-29 with 18 seconds to go.
"She made some big plays," Don Appleman said of Stayduhar. "That was a step forward for us tonight."
When Williamsburg turned the ball over, Jeff Appleman called a timeout with 11 seconds left to set up a possible 3-point play for the tie. However, Williamsburg's defense was equal to the challenge and escaped with the win.
"They played inspired," Jeff Appleman said. "They outplayed us, they outhustled us. It was a lot bigger game for them than us and I give them credit. They stuck with that [zone] defense and we couldn't hit anything."
Game notes: Several boys in the Williamsburg student section wore argyle sweaters and glasses - trademarks of Don Appleman. ... It was the first time Jeff Appleman coached a game at Williamsburg since 1999 - his final season there. ... Stayduhar, with 10 points, was the only player in double figures.
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (29): Brumbaugh 0 0-2 0, A. Burk 2 0-0 5, Ickes 3 1-2 7, Kulick 3 2-6 8, Snyder 2 0-0 4, Glass 0 0-0 0, Locke 1 0-0 2, P. Burk 1 0-0 3, Walter 0 0-0 0. Totals - 12 3-10 29.
WILLIAMSBURG (32): Kensinger 0 0-0 0, McCall 2 0-0 6, Stayduhar 3 2-4 10, Rhule 0 0-1 0, Detwiler 3 0-2 6, Crouch 0 0-0 0, Repine 1 3-4 5, Shaw 0 2-2 2, Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Peck 1 0-1 2. Totals - 10 7-14 32.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel11 6 7 5 - 29
Williamsburg7 7 9 9 - 32
3-point goals: Claysburg-Kimmel 2 (A. Burk, P. Burk); Williamsburg 5 (McCall 2, Stayduhar 2, Repine).
Records: Claysburg-Kimmel (7-3 overall, 3-2, I-C North); Williamsburg (6-5 overall, 2-3 I-C North).
JV: Claysburg-Kimmel 36-18. High scorers-Kari Glass, C-K, 10; Randilyn Peck, W, 9.