HERSHEY, Pa. — HERSHEY, Pa.
Assumptions were torn asunder. Respect was earned. Pennridge, however, didn’t travel to Hershey for anything other than the gold.
Kennedy Catholic had other plans.
The Golden Eagles from District 10 won, 64-62, in double overtime Saturday night at the Giant Center in what was a thriller throughout that turned into an instant classic late.
Senior West Virginia recruit Oscar Tshiebwe led the champs with 16 points, 21 rebounds (10 offensive), nine steals, six blocks, and several spectacular plays late.
The Rams were led by Naval Academy recruit Sean Yoder, who finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, and a block in overtime that sent an audible “wow” throughout the crowd.
"I hope that 25 years from now, that they remember this," coach Dean Behrens said, "the day that we had, playing at Temple, going down to South Philly high and then going to Pat's steaks. I hope they remember this! This is just a small part of their lives."
Both teams exchanged a pair of free throws late in regulation, which led to a 52-all tie into the first overtime, which ended in a 57-all tie.
In the second-overtime, the Eagles took a 61-57 lead late, but senior reserve, Pat Gillespie, drilled a 3-pointer in the right corner to get the Rams within, 61-60.
After the Golden Eagles (27-3) added two more points, another senior reserve, Nick Dunn, hit two free throws with little more than a minute left.
On Kennedy Catholic’s ensuing possession, the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Tshiebwe accepted a pass under the basket, rose to dunk the ball with two hands, but was joined in the air by Yoder, who blocked the shot and sent the ball out of bounds.
After he climbed Mt. Tshiebwe, the 6-foot-2 Yoder, with the Rams still down, 63-62, again met the long-armed with the 7-foot-5 wingspan under the Rams basket.
Tshiebwe’s revenge came with seconds left as he blocked Trent Fisher’s shot in front of the basket after a deft feed from Yoder. The ball went out of bounds with .8 seconds left.
District 10’s No. 1-seeded Golden Eagles, who had dominated Class A play in the last PIAA finales, claimed their first Class 6A title.
The Rams (26-5), the No. 4 seed from District 1, upset District 1 champ Abington in the second-round, Public League upstart Lincoln in the first-round and Catholic League runner-up La Salle in the semifinals.
Maceo Austin, a Duquesne recruit, led Kennedy Catholic with 19 points. Toledo recruit Mattia Acunzo added 18 points, while Ike Herster added 10.
Jon Post added 12 for the Rams before fouling out in the second overtime. Trent Fisher added 12.
"We knew they were going to try to play zone,” Kennedy Catholic coach Rick Mancino said. “But we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we stuck in there.
“I told [Behrens] — he didn’t want to hear it I’m sure — but I told him he should be very proud of himself. What a team.
“Without a doubt [it was the toughest game I had to coach]. It’s good for these kids because they’re going to remember this for the rest of their life.”
Pennridge 16 12 12 12 5 5 -- 62
Kennedy Catholic 14 11 13 14 5 7 -- 64
P: Trent Fisher 12, Luke Yoder 6, John Dominic 3, Sean Yoder 18, Jonathan Post 12, Nick Dunn 2, Jack Gillespie 6, Pat Gillespie 3.