CUMBERLAND — Allegany shook off some early rust, ended the first half with a bang and turned back a determined Fort Hill comeback attempt in the second for a 74-63 victory in their Class 1A West Section Semifinal Thursday night at Campobello.
The top-seeded Campers will host second-seeded Mountain Ridge in the section championship game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Mountain Ridge beat Southern in the other semifinal, 81-72.
Trenton Eirich scored 24 points, hitting two three-point shots in the final 30 seconds of the first half, to lead the Campers (18-5) to their 11th win in 12 games. Bryce Nightengale had 18 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots and Christian Thomas 14 points. Colton Sivic added six points and six rebounds, Hayden Bosley six assists and three steals and Mario D’Atri five assists.
Jarrett Wolfe led Fort Hill with 28 points, with 23 in the second half, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots for Fort Hill (13-11). Travis Bush also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Sidney Carroll added eight points and four assists.
It was the fourth straight year the City rivals met in a postseason game and for a while it appeared the visiting team would win for the third year in a row.
Fort Hill, which beat Hancock 89-42 on Wednesday, charged to a quick 10-2 lead, prompting an Allegany timeout just 3:09 into the game.
“After having eight days off I knew we would be rusty and I was prepared for that to happen,’’ Allegany coach Tedd Eirich said of his team’s start. “We just needed to settle down. Everyone was excited about playing, but when you practice that many days in a row this late in a season without a game, you have to expect to be a little rusty.”
After the timeout Christian Thomas hit a pair of free throws that started an Allegany run that seemed to have no end. The Campers outscored the Sentinels 14-2 the rest of the quarter and 34-10 the rest of the half, which ended 36-20 after an Eirich three-pointer at the buzzer.
It was a nightmare of a quarter for Fort Hill, which made 3 of 16 shots from the field.
“We weren’t executing on offense, had some defensive breakdowns and also missed some open shots,” Fort Hill coach Thad Burner said of the second quarter. “It sort of got away from us, just like it did the last time we played here. Allegany went on a run in the second quarter of that game, too.”
Thomas began the second half with a jumper from the corner to give the Campers their largest lead, 38-20. But just when it appeared to be getting out of reach for the Sentinels, Carroll scored on a drive of the lane that began a 23-point third quarter.
Wolfe had 12 points in the period and Carroll eight as the Sentinels scored more points in the quarter than they did in the first half.
Back-to-back buckets by Delonte Stewart and a tip-in by Wolfe cut the Allegany lead to 56-51, with six minutes to play.
A steal by Carroll had the Sentinels in position to get even closer, but the Campers got the ball right back on a steal by Bosley. Four Campers scored during a 10-4 spurt over the next three minutes as Allegany regained a double-figure lead, 66-55, with 2:40 left.
“In the last four minutes everybody seemed to take a turn coming up with a nice play, and our team defense was pretty good, although we did a horrible job on the boards at times,’’ said Eirich. “But people stepped up and got the job done when they needed to.
“Fort Hill deserves a lot of credit, being down 16 at halftime and playing so hard and coming back like they did.”
Allegany was 14 of 22 from the field in the second half and finished the night 29 for 50 at 58 percent (29 for 50). Nightengale made six of his last seven and was 8 for 12 for the game.
“Bryce had a great game on both ends. He worked hard trying to slow down (Jarrett) Wolfe, which is no easy chore, especially when you’re giving up five inches and about 70 pounds.”
Wolfe, a 6-foot-9 center who had scored 33 points against Hancock, had three three-point plays in the second half and made 10 straight foul shots. He and Bush combined for 24 rebounds, helping the Sentinels to a 40-29 advantage on the boards.
“Jarrett and Travis play so hard. They’re both seniors and for four years have given everything they had,” said Burner. “I’m proud of them and all the guys.”
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org