Forbes Road High School boys basketball coach Jeff Gelvin acknowledged that the general public consensus wasn't looking favorably on his team's chances Friday night.
The District 5 runner-up Cardinals were making a 90-minute trip from Fulton County for a first-round PIAA Class A playoff matchup against a talented, deep Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic team in what was essentially the Marauders' backyard.
"I don't think a lot of people gave us a chance to win this ballgame, but our guys believed that they could,'' Gelvin said.
In the end, that's all that mattered, as Forbes Road took advantage of BG's stone-cold shooting down the stretch to wipe out a nine-point deficit in the final four minutes and win, 46-40, at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
Forbes Road (17-8) scored the game's final 15 points after BG had taken a 40-31 lead on senior Ben Kasun's baseline jumper with 4:35 remaining.
"This team has shown a lot of pride and guts all year long,'' Gelvin said. "We battled and battled, and never gave up.''
That was the case Friday, as Forbes Road ended the Marauders' season in the first round of the state playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Senior forward Kyle Schoen's free throw and two more by junior guard Brock Broadwater started the rally. Broadwater then converted a steal into a layup to pull the Cardinals to within four, 40-36.
After BG was whistled for an offensive foul, Forbes Road senior forward Macklin Hawkins got free underneath the basket and scored to make it a 40-38 game.
BG failed to convert the front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation, and Schoen followed with a bucket from down low to tie the game, 40-40 with 1:50 left.
Senior guard Tristan Gelvin - the coach's nephew - hit one of two free throws to give Forbes Road the lead for good, 41-40 with 1:30 left.
About a minute later, after BG missed two more free throws and Broadwater snared the rebound, Schoen scored on a putback from the paint after a teammate's missed foul shot with 36 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 43-40 edge.
"I was just looking to crash the boards hard, the ball bounced my way, and I was able to put it back up,'' said the 6-foot-1 Schoen, who scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. "We hit some big shots down the stretch.''
BG (19-7) didn't, especially from the free throw line, where the Marauders made just six of 20, and went 0-for-8 in the fourth quarter.
"When you get up by nine, you have to make your free throws, and I don't think we made any for the last quarter and a half,'' BG coach Chris Drenning said. "In the last quarter, they hit their shots, and we didn't.''
Senior forward Damon Rickens led the Marauders with a game-high 17 points, including a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers that helped BG to its nine-point lead. But the Marauders generally struggled from the field, making just four of 20 shots in the first half - which ended with Forbes Road leading, 14-13 - and 15-of-48 overall in the game.
"We really wanted to win this game tonight to take a step forward as a program,'' Drenning said. "We didn't, and that's my fault. I've got to do a better job.''
Schoen's steal and free throw with 24 seconds left gave Forbes Road a 44-40 lead, and Tristan Gelvin - who led the Cardinals with 16 points - hit a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to set the 46-40 final.
"We have a really special group of guys,'' Schoen said. "We will not quit.''
Forbes Road moves on to play District 7 powerhouse Lincoln Park Tuesday at a site to be named.
BG, which built a 9-2 lead after one quarter on three Rickens free throws, a fast-break basket by senior Jamey Brumbaugh, and a pair of buckets by Kasun, wrapped up a solid season on a sour note. The Marauders lost a spirited battle to diocesan archrival Bishop Carroll in the District 6-A championship game last Saturday before losing Friday.
"We had some good wins this year, but I'm just sick about the way it ended,'' Drenning said.
FORBES ROAD (46): Gelvin 5 6-9 16, Shaw 3 1-2 8, Schoen 6 2-4 14, Broadwater 1 2-2 4, Hawkins 2 0-0 4, Horton 0 0-0 0, Keller 0 0-0 0, Schepis 0 0-2 0, Martz 0 0-0 0. Totals - 17 11-19 46.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (40): Fulare 1 0-4 2, McCloskey 0 0-3 0, Rickens 5 4-5 17, Chadbourn 2 0-0 4, Wolf 0 0-2 0, Brumbaugh 3 2-6 9, Little 1 0-0 2, Kasun 3 0-0 6, Fiore 0 0-0 0, Kibler 0 0-0 0. Totals - 15 6-20 40.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Forbes Road2 12 12 20 - 46
Bishop Guilfoyle9 4 16 11 - 40
3-point goals: Forbes Road 1 (Shaw); Bishop Guilfoyle 4 (Rickens 3, Brumbaugh).
Records: Forbes Road (17-8); Bishop Guilfoyle (19-7).
Officials: Frank Garritano, Chris Garritano, Chuck Glasser.