ALL YOU CAN ask of a championship basketball game is a dose of late-game entertainment.
This time, Germantown Academy's student-rooters, transported to the game by bus, with many sporting painted chests and/or faces (even arms), were forced to provide it.
"It's a slaughter! . . . It's a slaughter!"
No doubt about that, considering the score was 50-23 at the time.
GA, which lost on its home court to the same opponent the first time around, yesterday sliced and diced Chestnut Hill Academy, 53-28, to clinch the Inter-Ac League title with one game remaining for the former (8-1, a visit to Penn Charter looms Friday) and none for the latter (7-3).
Never in his wildest dreams did Cameron Ayers expect such a massacre.
"I thought it would be a tough game," he said.
OK, so he's better at playing than predicting. No one's great at everything.
Ayers, a 6-4, 185-pound junior guard, comes from a basketball family. His dad, Randy, formerly coached the 76ers and is now an assistant with the Washington Wizards. His brother, Ryan, a GA product, starts for Notre Dame. The bloodline is still in good working order.
Alternating between wing and point, Ayers contributed 14 points, three steals and five assists, and several more of his snappy passes led to two-shot fouls.
Dad was on the NBA trail.
"Right after this conversation, I'll text him or call," Cameron said, smiling.
No need for play-by-play details. In fact, if dad asked why the game was so one-sided, son could have saved some breath and limited his response to one word: defense.
This might be a stretch, but only slightly: The only time CHA launched an unchallenged shot was in warmups. With the score at 27-13, the Blue Devils were 5-for-27 from the floor with 11 turnovers. They finished 9-for-39 (0-for-7 on treys) with 17 coughups.
"Whether it was the starters or the guys off the bench, we dug down deep in our hearts and played defense tremendously," Ayers said. "I don't think it's possible [to play it any better]."
He added, "If you cut off a team's head, it's pretty hard to score."
Forward Gary Lawrence, presented a special ball beforehand to celebrate his 1,000th career point, managed 15 points. But five came very late and he went just 5-for-18 from the floor. Dean Melchionni was mostly responsible, even though he suffered a first-half ankle injury when he jumped and landed on Lawrence's foot.
Eric Yuschak and Jack McDonnell combined to keep Todd Cramer (14.1 league average) off the scoreboard entirely (0-for-5 from the floor).
Among the emotional was coach Jim Fenerty, who has captured 12 crowns (four shared) in 20 seasons.
"That's three in a row for these guys. That's pretty special," he said.
He added that this one ranked way up there among his personal favorites "because No. 20 was out there." That would be his son, Jimmy, a senior point guard, who claimed a team-high five rebounds. "Also because I've known every single one of these guys since they were about 5. Some have been in our school for a long time. The guys that came in for ninth grade go back to Biddy leagues with Jimmy.
"Some of the guys thought I was putting too much pressure on myself because I wanted it so bad for them. Damn, they played well today. I'm proud of them."
McDonnell and Melchionni added 14 and 12 points, respectively, helping to pace the Patriots to 17-for-29 marksmanship.
Once GA completes its season next week in a private-school tourney, Ayers will give more attention to recruiting. Saint Joseph's, Temple and La Salle are local schools in the running and he intends to make springtime unofficial visits to Georgetown, Michigan, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
"I'm going to narrow things down slowly, by slowly," he said, smiling. "No need to rush into it. I might wait until next year to commit."
"Either one is fine," he said. "I do think I have the IQ and mind-set to be a point guard and make smart decisions."
At game's end, he also had the intelligence to look directly at GA's students.