CUMBERLAND — Bryce Nightengale and Mario D’Atri were just about unstoppable, and top-seeded Allegany proved to be, too, as the Campers turned away second-seeded Fort Hill for a third time this season, 77-63, to win the Class 1A West Region Section I championship Wednesday night at Campobello.
Allegany, 22-1, will carry an 18-game winning streak into the West Region championship game on Saturday, at noon, at Hagerstown Community College. The opponent will be the winner of tonight’s Section II final between Smithsburg and Manchester Valley.
Nightengale and D’Atri had arguably the best games of their careers and steady Trenton Eirich had a team-high 24 points and hit 14 of 16 foul shots to put the Campers one win from the state tournament. The three combined for 66 of Allegany’s 77 points.
Nightengale, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored 22 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked four shots. D’Atri, a 5-10 junior point guard, also had a double-double with a season-high 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
“When Bryce is focused he’s as good as any player in the area. And boy, was he fun to watch tonight,’’ said Allegany head coach Tedd Eirich. “He just did it all. It seemed like he cleaned every rebound off the glass.”
Nightengale was equally as effective in each half, with 12 points and nine rebounds in the first, and 10 points and nine rebounds in the second.
While Nightengale was helping the Campers to a big edge inside, D’Atri was running the show from the outside. He had five assists in the second quarter, including a lob pass to Nightengale for a dunk in the opening seconds.
“He’s the best point guard in the area and handles the ball and distributes so well,’’ Eirich said. “The 11 rebounds were an added dimension. You never expect a point guard to get 11 rebounds. That was certainly a bonus.”
Fort Hill (18-6) led most of the first quarter and hung close throughout the second on the back of Dalton Gaus, who scored 20 of the Sentinels’ 29 points in the first half. He finished with 24 points and eight rebounds. Tyler Michael had 17 points, all in the fourth quarter, and a team-high 10 rebounds.
“Dalton’s first quarter (13 points) was huge, and he literally kept us in the game the entire first half,’’ said Fort Hill head coach Thad Burner. “We played hard and were determined. But sometimes you just don’t make the shots and things don’t go your way.
“Allegany is so athletic and active inside and they keep a lot of balls alive. They may have had more offensive rebounds than we had rebounds in the first half.”
The Campers finished with a 55-38 edge on the boards and had only six turnovers through the first three quarters.
But even on a poor offensive night, the Campers came up with a win in a big game, which is what had Eirich the most pleased. Allegany shot 31 percent (23 for 73) from the field.
“The most important thing is, and we’ve told our guys all year, is that we are going to have a bad shooting night at some point so we better always play good defense,’’ Eirich said. “That was the theme, the story, tonight. Especially in the third quarter.”
Allegany made just 5 of 20 shots in the third quarter, but it was the third quarter that proved to be pivotal, again, for the Campers. That’s because the Sentinels were only 1 of 12 from the field and 1 of 6 from the foul line and had three points in the quarter. Allegany’s 37-29 halftime lead was suddenly 49-32 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Sentinels scored 31 points in the fourth quarter — one point less than their total after three quarters — but the hole was too deep to overcome, and the closest they could get was 70-60 with a minute to go. The Campers were 21 of 24 from the foul line, with Eirich hitting 11 of 12, in the fourth.
“I think at times we put too much pressure on ourselves in the third quarter,’’ said Burner. “We forced some shots, we took some quick ones, and all of a sudden an eight-point game is a 15-point game, and that changes everything you do, offensively and defensively.
“But I’m very proud of the year we had ... 18-6 is a good season.”
Allegany was the only team in the area to have all five starters with double-figure scoring averages during the regular season.
“Every one has a different game, they all know what the each does well and they complement each other so well,’’ said Eirich. “I’m happy for the seniors, too. Trenton, Bryce, Colton Sivic, Derek Hickle and Dalton Golliday, that they won their last game at Allegany.”
The Campers have beaten Fort Hill in five of their last six meetings, and have won four of the last five playoff meetings.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org