Hello world. Thy name is Chance Westry.
For high school basketball fans around the mid-state, nearly all are at least somewhat familiar with the sheer excellence that has been exerted by the Trinity Shamrocks over the years. And while the ‘Rocks had most recently been getting the job done with more than their fair share of talented big men, this year the formula has been a little bit different.
Enter 6’3 freshman point guard Chance Westry stage left.
Coming into the year, there were rumors reverberating out of the west shore that the Shamrocks had an ultra-talented triggerman running the show this year. Suffice to say, yes, they most certainly do.
Yet while many in the Mid-Penn and District 3 viewing audience had already bore witness to Westry’s exploits over the last few months, the state, and perhaps even the nation for that matter, got a firsthand view on Saturday afternoon as well.
After coming out the other side of what is always an incredibly loaded PIAA-3A state field, Trinity found themselves back in their second home on Saturday, Hershey’s Giant Center, for the opportunity to make good on the short drive back home to nearby Camp Hill afterwards with a gold trophy and supporting medals should they be able to knock off Lincoln Park who had emerged out of the western side of the state.
Early on, the game more than lived up to its acclaimed billing.
Throughout much of the early going, consistent volleys were traded back and forth between both the Shamrocks and the Leopards, as both sides found themselves knotted up at 8-8 before a 3-ball cashed in by 6’0 senior guard Matt Long gave Trinity the 11-8 lead near the midway point of the opening quarter.
Shortly thereafter, the Shamrocks continued to remain hot from deep as yet another triple tossed in, this one thanks to the efforts of 6’4 junior forward Marcus Beckett, saw Trinity squeeze back in front by a pair at 16-14 before the quarter eventually expired with both sides deadlocked at 16-16.
Yet while neither side would be able to garner much in terms of separation as the second quarter moved along, a key late-half spurt engineered by Lincoln Park allowed the Leopards to roar into the halftime recess with ownership of the 37-30 advantage following a triple and lay-in just before the first horn by way of the junior duo of Isaiah Smith and Johnnie Bryant respectively.
But just when it may have seemed like Lincoln Park would be able to ride the first half momentum out for the remainder of the afternoon, the aforementioned man of the hour, Chance Westry, proceeded to come of the gates on his own personal 4-0 salvo within the first 50 seconds of the third quarter to get the Shamrocks back within three right from the outset.
Ironically enough however, that would prove to be all the closer Trinity would get for the remainder of the third frame as Lincoln Park proceeded to soar for the remainder of the quarter, seeing their lead swell to as many as 17 points at 52-35 following a back-breaking trifecta dialed up from 6’0 junior guard Isaiah Smith at the three-minute mark of the third quarter. And while Trinity would be able to temper the Leopards’ flames somewhat as the quarter wound down, Lincoln Park still carried a 54-43 lead with them heading into the final quarter of play.
Once the final quarter got underway, it largely appeared that Lincoln Park would be able to cruise home and back to their campus in the town of Midland near the four-minute of the fourth quarter following a 3-ball knocked home from Isaiah Smith, good for 3 of his team-high 21 points on the afternoon, which saw the Leopards’ advantage increase to two touchdowns at 64-50.
From there however, the show belonged to Chance Westry.
It all seemed to start off rather innocently enough as the explosive, rangy freshman floor general knocked in two freebies at the charity stripe which got the Shamrocks back within shouting distance at 68-61 with just 1:45 left to play. Shortly thereafter, Westry proceeded to step out from behind the arc and knock in a triple, effectively trimming the Lincoln Park lead down to a half dozen at 70-64 with 58.7 now showing on the clock.
But he wasn’t done there.
With Lincoln Park struggling to find a way to throw dirt on the Shamrocks once and for all, Chance Westry continued to come up aces for the Trinity-led effort by sinking a gorgeous, textbook step-back triple to officially put the Leopards’ lead on thin ice at 72-69 with 29 seconds left to tick away.
Sure, while Westry’s latest bucket was sensational in its own right given the present situation, it likely received even more acclaim when those in attendance glanced to the Giant Center’s monstrous video board posted on the eastern-end of the arena and likely had to do a double-take when they recognized that the freshman had just reached the 40-point plateau individually.
Yet while Westry was almost single-handily keeping the Shamrocks afloat heading down the stretch, it was equally vital to remember that Lincoln Park still had kept Trinity at arm’s length by way of foul shooting throughout the last few minutes of action. And with 8.6 seconds left to go, Johnnie Bryant found himself toeing the charity stripe with the opportunity to perhaps put this one away once and for all as far as the Leopards were concerned.
However, the door remained opened just ajar as Bryant split the offering, making it a 73-69 Lincoln Park lead as the Shamrocks claimed the defensive rebound.
This time, the ball would not find itself in the hands of Westry, but rather 6’2 junior guard Aley Zangari, which proved to be more than fine as Zangari drilled an enormous 3-ball to slice the Lincoln Park lead down to the slimmest of margins at 73-72 with now 1.2 left to go and the Leopards having to venture 94 feet.
While the odds were certainly stacked up against Trinity given the circumstances, a steal by Chance Westry on the ensuing inbounds gave the Shamrocks and their fans a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately though, the last-second, frantic heave to beat the horn came just short, allowing the Leopards to finally wipe the sweat away from their brow one final time as Leopards successfully survived a valiant comeback administered by the Shamrocks, a comeback that by and large was spearheaded by their sensational freshman turning in a performance for the ages by netting an eye-popping 40 points in a state championship game that will stand the test of time as far as personal memory banks are concerned.