HERSHEY - It was like a slow-moving, tidal wave of emotion for Constitution High's Ahmad Gilbert.
Clad in the Generals' all-red uniforms, the 6-7 senior forward strode through Hershey's Giant Center fully aware of the stakes.
It wasn't until Gilbert reached the court, however, that the gravity hit him.
"I came out of the tunnel, looked up, and it was my last game," he said. "I let it out once I shook a couple of my guys' hands. I just looked like, 'This is our last game.'
"My freshman year, I never thought I would play my last game in the state championship game, so that's really special," he continued. "I just cried and when the tears went away, I just knew what time it was. It was time to play basketball."
What followed was a defensive onslaught that helped the Generals overwhelm District 10 Farrell, 85-53, and secure Constitution's third state title in 4 years.
At times, it appeared red jerseys were everywhere. The sanguine assault yielded a 31-4 advantage after the first quarter.
"I think it was the best defense we've played ever," said senior guard Kimar Williams. "Just hounding, one-on-one defense. We haven't played with that same intensity ever in a game."
By halftime, the Generals had ripped 10 steals, blocked two shots and forced Farrell into 13 turnovers.
"Last year, we relied on our offense a lot," Gilbert said. "We thought we could outscore teams . . . This year, coach Sam [Edge] had us on a different level. It was defense first, and I've never worked this hard on defense a day in my life."
Gilbert also dominated offensively. He finished with 28 points, including 6-for-12 beyond the arc. He also added 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
As a team, Constitution forced 21 turnovers, including 16 steals.
"It seemed like we were hungry," Gilbert said. "We always put pressure on teams, but we saw how shaky they were with the ball and it was time to get up on them."
Williams supplied 20 points and eight assists. Chad Andrews-Fulton, a senior forward, coupled 14 points with 15 rebounds and also added three steals. Senior wing Haneef Vaughn dished seven assists and had a team-high four steals. Akeem "Buddah" King, another senior guard, had two steals.
Malik Miller led Farrell with 24 points.
"This was my last game with Kimar, Buddah, Chad and Haneef," Gilbert said. "This was our last time on the floor together putting on the Generals uniform . . . It was just time for business."