HAGERSTOWN — The Allegany Campers refused to take no for an answer Saturday afternoon, and in a game full of twists and turns, heroes off the bench and dramatic overtime endings, beat Manchester Valley in double overtime, 63-62, for the Class 1A West Region championship and a trip to next week’s state tournament.
Trenton Eirich’s full-court dash and layup with five seconds left in the second overtime proved to be the difference as the Campers won their 19th game in a row and improved to 23-1. They will play East Region champion Crisfield in Friday’s 3 p.m. state semifinal at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center.
Darquel Jessie had a game-high 21 points and six rebounds, Bryce Nightengale 19 points, five rebounds and six blocked shots and Eirich 15 points and four assists for the Campers, who held a lead for only 3:16 of the 40-minute game.
Point guard Austin Cannon led Manchester Valley with 19 points and seven assists. Josiah Boyle had 15 points and nine rebounds, Devon Luddy 11 points and 6-foot-5 center Zach Heron 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Allegany trailed by as many as 11 points, didn’t get its first lead until the fourth quarter, withstood a Manchester Valley three-point shot at the buzzer that forced a second overtime, and won it with a senior, junior and three sophomores — two who were postseason call-ups from the junior varsity team — on the court in a game that will not soon be forgotten by either side.
“It was a great high school basketball game. I don’t know if we’ve ever played a game quite like that one,” Allegany coach Tedd Eirich admitted. “I know it’s one of the more memorable games I’ve ever been a part of. You couldn’t have scripted something like this. It’s an amazing feeling to have won it. Manchester Valley could’ve easily won it, too.”
It was the fifth overtime game of the year for Manchester Valley (14-11), which had beaten Smithsburg 62-61 in overtime on Thursday to get to the region final. It was the Mavericks’ fourth loss by one point and sixth by two points or less. They were 3-2 in overtime games.
“It was a great game between two fairly evenly matched teams,” said Manchester Valley coach Bernie Kountz. “I thought we played solid man-to-man defense, but some little things bit us in the end. We missed a couple of layups and foul shots at big times.
“You can’t shoot 50 percent from the foul line in the end and come out with the win. We were an average foul-shooting team. Foul shooting was one of our weaknesses.”
Manchester Valley shot 7 of 14 from the foul line during the overtimes, and was 1 of 4 in the final 42 seconds of the second OT. Allegany made 5 for 6 in the second overtime and 20 of 28 for the game.
The Campers were within seconds of losing in regulation, within seconds of winning it in the first overtime, and within seconds of losing in the second overtime.
They trailed 50-48 when Eirich hit a jumper to tie it with 20 seconds left in regulation, and Nightengale blocked a shot by Cannon with three seconds to go to send it to the first overtime.
In the first extra four-minute period, Jessie hit four straight free throws to help Allegany move ahead 57-54 with 11.3 seconds left.
With Nightengale and Colton Sivic, who had a team-high nine rebounds, watching after fouling out, Manchester Valley tied it when Jake Winner buried a three-point shot from the top of the key at the buzzer. It was the only shot Winner attempted all day, and came after a long rebound of a missed three by Boyle seconds earlier.
“It felt like a big punch in the gut,” Eirich said. “We had just called a timeout to set up the defense. We wanted to defend against the three and make them go to the basket. But they got an offensive rebound and got a (three-pointer) off and made it.
“After he made it, we had to forget about how we felt and get the players ready for the second overtime. It wasn’t over. And the kids never quit on us.”
DaJaun Pendergast fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime, and the Campers played the rest of the way with senior Eirich, junior Jessie, sophomore Darick Kerns, and two sophomores who stood out on the jayvee team, center Jason Copman and guard Carson Imes.
The Mavericks led 61-58 with 2:45 to go after a drive by Cannon. A tip-in by Jessie made it 61-60 with 1:50 left, and a free throw by Eirich tied it 61-61 with 42 seconds on the clock.
Cannon made a foul shot to break the tie for Manchester Valley with 12.7 seconds to go. He missed the second, Copman grabbed the rebound and hit Eirich, who drove the length of the court, sidestepped a defender hoping to draw a charge in the lane, and made a layup to give Allegany a 63-62 lead with five seconds left.
“They were missing some free throws at the end and we were hoping we’d get one more chance,’’ Trenton Eirich said of the final seconds. “Jason got the rebound and got it to me and I just did what we’ve done all year, me, Mario (D’Atri) and DaJaun (Pendergast), and that was to push it. Then I saw a one-on-one opportunity and just took it.”
Manchester Valley hurriedly inbounded the ball but Cannon’s desperation shot from near midcourt fell harmlessly along the baseline, and Allegany had survived.
They wouldn’t have if not for a host of things, big and small. The Campers were outrebounded 18-7 in the first half but trailed only 32-28. Jessie and Nightengale were clutch on both ends and combined for 22 points after halftime, Sivic had eight of his nine rebounds in the second half and Copman had six during the overtime as the Campers followed their seven-rebound first half with 30 after the half.
“It was just a great team effort,’’ coach Eirich said. “And the young guys ... DaJaun Pendergast was big for us on defense, Darick Kerns had a couple of big blocks, Jason Copman had big rebounds and several on the offensive end that gave us extra chances during the overtimes, and Carson Imes was solid when he was in there.
“That’s four kids, two up from from the jayvee team, who came off the bench and were absolutely the difference in the game.”
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional game coverage and player comments will be featured in Monday’s edition.