March 22, 2003
Giant Center Hershey
PIAA 3A Finals
Lancaster Catholic 75 Perry 59
The team that couldn't could....The unbeaten Crusaders met all challenges this season. Never has an unbeaten team been so underestimated by opponents, press and fans (not its own fans though:).....Play on the road in York for tip - off. ..check.... Navigate non-league upgraded schedule, including Reading Central Cath. and York Cath......check....Play highly regarded Conestoga Valley at Christmas..check. Beat Wilson in the finals.....check....Beat the pesky rival Columbia Tide....check. ...Beat top seeded LMHS in LL semis....check. ...Beat McCaskey in the third LL finals- the same Tornado team that set record margins of victory the previous year with the same players that LCHS had the year before...Check...Wait till districts...OK. Beat zone playing Eastern York... check...How about fast breaking West York...check...OK. How about the pound it in the post Cedars from Lebanon...check. ..Now it gets serious in Steel High, Mid Penn 1 power...Blown away....The Crusaders seemed to get the tougher bracket in the sates...How about Oxford - the running and gunning and big back line, "we don't repect anyone"...Check, with some come from behind heroics, which would become the trademark for this team....ACC up next with its vaunted match up zone...Check...All right, how about District 1 power Harriton, who had beaten a lot of District One 4A powers...With a "you had to be there to believe it" OT finish, featuring a game saving dribble pass play from Testa to Keller with 2 hundredths of a second left in the season,... gulp, ah... check......Well how about Steel High- AGAIN!. Rumor had it that the state championship had to go through Steel High....Well, the Crusaders took the lead late (surprise -..... not really) and ..well, check again...One more check to go....West Champ Perry. A city champ at that. ..Check check check!...The Crusaders join a hand full of unbeaten teams to win the states. No division 1 players here such as Billy Owens (Carlisle) or Brian Pearl (York Cath) or the record setting Elk Lake in the 70's...No this team was a team in every aspect of the game. Team offense, team defense, team passing to break the press, and team passing to take advantage of what the other team gave up, as they had to give up something, and NO ONE figures it out all year long :)
The game....Early on it looked as though LCHS would dump the ball into the post at will as it ran out to a 8-2 lead on a follow by Ryan Purvis. Perry answered with a 10-2 run of its own, led by Michael Reid, who scored 6 in this stretch. He was the answer for Perry. However, Perry could not get others to step up. How about a Testa last second shot..Ok. He does to cut the lead to 15-12. Was the crowd nervous? nah.We've seen this before... Both teams were picking up the other in full court man. Perry was quicker, but LCHS was steady at both ends...Another burst by LCHS to start the 2nd. Zach Shedleski a drive, Purvis a jumper and Shedleski a 3 point bomb - his trademark of the PIAA season. 19-15 LCHS. Perry answers with one of Reids bombs, but then Catholic goes on yet another burst, starting with a Testa J, a drive by steady Ian Giblin and to triples form Testa and Shedleski. LCHS up 29-20 with 1:47 to go...A Mason Weeks follow with :20 seconds to go gives LCHS 32-25 lead into the break. Only 16 more minutes to perfection....
2nd half...Would you believe another burst? A Keith Keller jumper, a jumper by Purvis, and a triple by Testa set up a nice lead which would never be threatened for the rest of the game,...well, maybe once once but....39-25 Catholic with 6:19 left in the game. A blow out? Nah...Not in the finals. Not with this team playing in close games. Not with Perry not wanting to give it one more shot. Perry did give it one more go late in the third as Perry started taking the ball to the rack at will. An 8-0 run cut the lead to 54-46, and Perry got the ball, only to miss. Weeks nails 2 fouls, and LCHS get a steal as Keller gets a spectacular tip at the buzzer as LCHS stretches it's lead to 58-46...Neither team could mount a run in the fourth except when the foul game had to be played by Perry at the end. LCHS took care of the boards, led by Purvis with 13. LLHoops.com had Catholic winning the battle of the boards- 25 to 15 and even in turnovers at 15 a piece...Let the celebration begin!
Michael Reid 27
Dwayne Petius 10
Ryan Purvis 25
Greg Testa 19
Keith Keller 15
Quotable quotes...Ryan Purvis .."coach said we have 16 minutes to win a title. ..that was motivation enough...this is an unbelievable feeling...We really came together after we beat McCaskey in the LL finals."....Greg Testa..." I think this is the first game I ever fouled out of. I just wanted to leave it all on the floor....This is the best feeling of my life so far...We wanted to wins states so bad...Our fans are the best."...Coach South.."I feel numb right now...our def. made them slow down in the first half. Then we had some ole def as they drove right around us...I think they were quicker than Steel high 1-5. ..We're not afraid to go to Ryan...We needed to score inside and we were smart enough to get him the ball...He gives up some scoring earlier in the year."
Sidelines:...Coach Southward paid his dues..with stops at Millersville U, Steven Tech, Penn Manor (unpaid assistant) and a long time assistant at LCHS plus a HS background from the Pittsburgh area, South seems to have many friends along the way...8677 paid in the second game...Thanks to PIAA for letting LLHoops,.com cover the finals....Thanks to LLHoops,com gang who shared some stories at the Parkside- Mike W, Sue W., NEast writer Jon K and dad. ..Thanks to historian at MASN, Jerry S for providing info. on past PIAA Champs...Coach Bob Schlosser of Etown College, who has some PIAA gold himself as Coach of Allentown Central Catholic, had son, Ben, on the Catholic roster. Make some room on the mantel for another medal:)
Trivia question: Has there ever been a player to win PIAA championship who went onto win a PIAA Championship as a coach? Thanks to Coach Blackburn of the Cedars for that one! I have at least one for you!
CONGRATS to LL Lancaster Catholic who joins Annville - Cleona, Columbia and Cocalico as PIAA Champs form the LL.