Panthers ousted after Muncy rally

MUNCY — Nothing came easy this season. Costly injuries could have derailed Northern Bedford’s season as could have a six-game losing streak.

Through it all, the Panthers kept moving forward. Against the odds and despite playing most of the season without three potential starters, Northern Bedford reached the Class 2A state tournament. The Panthers looked like they might win once there, too, but a furious second-half Muncy comeback finally ended their season.

Northern Bedford built a 12-point lead early in the third quarter but District 4’s Muncy scored 26 fourth-quarter points and pulled away for a 60-51 state tournament play-in game win. Four Panthers scored in double figures but Muncy controlled the final five minutes, using a 17-4 run to build an 11-point lead in the final seconds.

“We had a lot of adversity all season. We talk to them about adversity not just with basketball, but with life situations. You’re going to face adversity and the guys did face a lot of adversity this year and battled through,” Northern Bedford coach Shawn Hicks said. “We lost six games in a row at one point, and they could have packed it in and said the season is over, but they didn’t do that. We were able to win two district playoff games to get here which is good to see them do that. We had a lot of confidence coming in, but we just have to finish the game.”

Muncy (14-12), which overcame a double-digit deficit for a second time this postseason, advances to Saturday’s first round and plays District 3 champion Halifax at Central Dauphin East High School. It was Muncy’s first state tournament win since beating Bishop O’Reilly in the 2003 Class A quarterfinals.

“It’s huge getting a state win. No matter how you frame it, this is big,” Muncy coach Jason Gresh said. “These seniors have come so far and to get a state win, that’s unbelievable growth and unbelievable commitment and belief in what we do.”

Northern Bedford dominated the first half, building a 26-16 halftime lead and extending it to 12 three minutes into the third quarter. Muncy, however, heated up as 1,000-point scorer Jeff Fry scored five quick points and breathed life into what had been a dormant offense. Fry (21 points, six rebounds) hit a long 3-pointer that pulled Muncy within two by the end of the third quarter and hit another 3-pointer on Muncy’s first fourth quarter possession that gave the Indians their first lead since the first quarter.

Andrew Foor hit a game-tying 3-pointer after Muncy pushed its lead to three, and Case Donaldson hit a jumper as Northern Bedford regained the lead. The teams traded shots for the next two minutes, but Nate Paisley’s three-point play with five minutes remaining put Muncy ahead to stay and sparked the game-breaking 17-4 run. Northern Bedford made just one field goal over a five-minute stretch and started settling for 3-point shots after displaying an excellent inside game throughout the first half.

“We got out of our offense a little bit,” Hicks said. “We wanted to keep pounding the ball inside and, with them scoring, we got away from that and started shooting shots from the outside that we shouldn’t have.”

Jacob Dasher scored a team-high 15 points, including 11 in the second half and grabbed nine of his game-high 12 rebounds in the first half. Isaac Drenning finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists while Foor had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds. Jake Cherry added 10 points.

NORTHERN BEDFORD (51): Dasher 6 3-6 15, Drenning 5 0-0 12, Cherry 5 0-0 10, Fernandez 0 0-0 0, Foor 5 0-0 12, Donaldson 1 0-0 2. Totals–22 3-6 51.

MUNCY (60): Fry 7 4-4 21, Coyner 3 4-5 10, Paisley 3 2-3 9, Rymsza 3 2-4 8, Hulyo 3 0-4 6, Wilt 2 2-2 6. Totals–21 14-22 60.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Northern Bedford 15 11 10 15 — 51

Muncy 10 6 18 26 — 60

3-pointers: Northern Bedford 4 (Drenning 2, Foor 2); Muncy 4 (Fry 3, Paisley).

Records: Muncy (14-12). Northern Bedford (11-15).

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