Zola and the Blue Devils went to the line 33 times, while the Blue Raiders took 25 free throws in a contest that was marred by whistles in the second half.
Greencastle head coach Gary Martin tried to keep his team composed during a whistle clinic that left many fans inside the gymnasium up in arms.
“Trying to keep them calm was big,” Gary Martin said. “We have 10 kids on our team that can play. If one is getting caught up in some type of dispute on the court, we can have him calm down and have someone come off the bench and play.”
Keep calm they did, as the Blue Devils (8-2) squeaked out a six-point victory that was a see-saw battle until the last minutes of the fourth quarter.
After an 8-7 first quarter in which both teams struggled to find any rhythm offensively, the shootout began.
Greencastle came out firing in the second quarter. Eli Englehart and Holden Baker came off the bench and sparked two separate 9-0 runs in the second frame, vaulting the Blue Devils to their largest lead of the game at 14.
Englehart and Baker accounted for four of the team’s five three-pointers in the second quarter, and were the catalysts behind Greencastle’s scorching of the perimeter that enabled them to head into the break with a seemingly comfortable 11-point lead.
However, no lead was safe in this game. Led by a seven-point performance by Mel Fager, the Blue Raiders stormed back into the game, rushing to a 15-4 run that left the score tied at 36 with four minutes to play in the frame.
But as fate would have it, the Blue Raiders (4-7) could not keep Greencastle away from the free-throw line. The Blue Devils, struggling to find their niche offensively, capitalized on the foul parade, hitting 7 of 13 from the charity stripe. Those seven points went a long way in settling the outcome as the Blue Devils only hit 3 of 10 from the field in the quarter, two of those field goals coming from Zola.
“They were double-teaming our guards, so we were looking to attack the basket,” Martin said. “We would like to hit a few more than we did, but we found success in attacking and getting to the line for easy points.”
Foul troubles plagued the Blue Raiders again in the final frame as two of their starters fouled out, paving the way for the Blue Devils to secure the victory.
Greencastle 68, Middletown 62
MIDDLETOWN (PA.) (4-7)
Zimmerman 15, Truesdale 4, Charleston 4, Drawbaugh 15, Fager 14, Fox 10. Totals 22 14-23 62.
Zola 18, Faulkner 3, Puffenbarger 15, Scott 8, Stepler 3, Baker 8, Englehart 11, Montedoro 2. Totals 21 19-34 68.
Middletown 7 14 22 19 — 62.
Greencastle 8 24 12 24 — 68
3-point goals — Middletown 4 (Fager 3, Zimmerman); Greencastle 7 (Englehart 3, Baker 2, Zola, Faulkner). Fouled out — Drawbaugh.