HERSHEY, Pa. - It was like a slow moving, tidal wave of emotion for Constitution's Ahmad Gilbert.
Clad in the Generals' red uniform, the 6-foot-7 senior forward strode through the Giant Center before the PIAA Class A state final fully aware of the stakes.
It wasn't until Gilbert reached the court Friday afternoon, 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. 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 as the Generals overwhelmed Farrell, 85-53, and secured Constitution's third state title in four years.
At times, it appeared red jerseys were everywhere. The 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 District 10's Farrell of into 13 turnovers.
"Last year, we relied on our offense a lot," Gilbert said. "We thought we could outscore teams . . . This year . . . 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 (6 of 12 from beyond the arc). He also added 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Constitution forced 21 turnovers and had 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."
Farrell 4 16 14 19 - 53
Constitution 31 8 30 16 - 85
F: Marcus McCoy 1, Thomas Ripley 6, Terrence Holloway 3, Malik Miller 24, Leon Lewis 7, Deant'e Phillips 3, Curtis Seay 9.
C: Chad Andrews-Fulton 14, Ahmad Gilbert 28, Akeem King 7, Kimar Williams 20, Haneef Vaughn 4, Hakim Hudson 3, Nasir Randolph 6, Anthony Satchell 1, Khalif Khroma 2.