No athlete wants to lead the team that allows a dynasty to crumble.

And make no mistake about it, Germantown Academy's basketball program has reigned supreme in the Inter-Ac long enough to be considered dynastic.

Friday night's 54-50 triumph at Episcopal Academy might have ensured the four-time defending champions a rare championship coup.

"One of the things we said to them before the game was, 'We've been in this spot before,' " said Patriots coach Jim Fenerty.

Well, seniors Evan-Eric Longino and Kyle McCloskey had been.

Both had started games as freshmen, and both were desperate not to break GA's string of championships.

"This is huge," said McCloskey, who led all scorers with 22 points. "We've played in these games for four years now with crowds coming at you and saying stuff about you, and you learn how to zone it out."

In front of a packed gymnasium with two boisterous student sections that briefly congregated after the final buzzer, the Patriots (18-6, 7-2) overcame an early deficit and controlled the action late.

Coming from behind and playing through adversity, however, was nothing new for the Patriots.

After losing two games early in league play, GA overcame a 19-point, second-quarter deficit at Malvern on Jan. 20 and knocked off the Friars, 72-65. Then, on Jan. 24, the Patriots outlasted visiting Haverford School, 100-98, in five overtimes.

"Me and Kyle just agreed that we can't go out [like that]," said Longino, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. "This is our last year, and we've won every year. . . . It took a lot to get here, and I'm glad we did it in this fashion."

If the Patriots beat Malvern on Tuesday, it would mean a fifth title, something only done by Penn Charter from 1940 through 1944, Episcopal from 1987 through 1991 and Malvern from 1973 through 1977 according to TedSilary.com.

Episcopal (14-10, 7-2) led by eight points early in the first quarter before GA narrowed the gap and eventually took a 27-22 lead into halftime after Longino hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

After the game's final horn, it appeared a few Episcopal students took exception to the GA students who stormed their court to celebrate with their victorious classmates.

The two sides met at midcourt and exchanged tough talk but were quickly separated without pushing or shoving.

The Churchmen were led by Conner Delaney's 21 points. Nick Alikakos added 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.

If Episcopal beats winless Springside Chestnut Hill on Tuesday, the Churchmen will earn a share of their first championship since 2006.

Previously two-loss Haverford School was toppled by Malvern Friday night.

GA senior Cole Storm finished with four points, including two critical free throws with the Patriots clinging to a four-point lead with 27.2 seconds left.

Sophomore Brian Basile added seven critical points off the bench.

Of his seniors, Fenerty said that they heard from competitors on the AAU circuit that the Patriots, who had lost point guard Devon Goodman to graduation and Penn, would likely lose their championship grip on the league.

"I think Kyle and Evan-Eric just said, 'Eh, we ain't done yet,' " Fenerty said.

Germantown Acad. 12 15 14 13 - 54

Episcopal Acad. 15 7 12 16 - 50

GA: Kyle McCloskey 22, Evan-Eric Longino 21, Cole Storm 4, Brian Basile 7.

EA: Conner Delaney 21, Nick Alikakos 18, Jack O'Connell 6, Kyle Virbitsky 5.

@AceCarterINQ

cartera@phillynews.com