MILLERSVILLE — When Donnell Williams gave Kennard-Dale its first and only lead with 6 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the game, it looked as if the Rams’ outstanding season might continue right to the Giant Center in Hershey.
The No. 4 seed Rams, however, couldn’t hold the edge and fell to No. 8 seed Bishop McDevitt 62-53 Monday night in a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal at Penn Manor High School.
The victory sends the Crusaders (14-11), who knocked off top-seed Lancaster Catholic in the quarterfinals, to the championship at 7 Thursday night against No. 2 Berks Catholic (25-2), a 51-33 winner over Middletown in the other semifinal.
The Rams (19-7) will meet Middletown (16-7) for third place in the district at 7:30 pm Wednesday at West York. Kennard-Dale had already qualified for its first state tournament appearance since 1996 with its quarterfinal victory over Littlestown last week.
“We did everything we wanted to do defensively at the end of the game,” Rams’ coach Jake Roupe said. “I think you just have to give McDevitt some credit because they made some tough shots down the stretch.
“But I couldn’t be more proud of our kids. They played hard and they played with a lot of class, too.”
Williams gave the Rams the short-lived lead on a putback, but the Crusaders’ Davon Lee, who led all scorers with 18 points, quickly gave McDevitt the lead again at the 6:05 mark. A K-D turnover followed by two free throws by Tarajae Davis made it a 43-40 game before another bucket by Williams cut it to 43-42.
From there, however, McDevitt made consecutive baskets to lead 47-42. The Rams did manage to cut the gap to 51-49 with 3:32 left on a 3-pointer by Adam Freese, but that was as close as the Rams would come. McDevitt ran off seven unanswered points to lead 58-49 at the 1:00 mark.
While Freese, the Rams’ leading scorer, finished with 11 points, the offensive hero was freshman Carter Day, who led the team with 15 points.
At one point in the first half, McDevitt built a 22-11 advantage and led 29-19 at halftime. Thanks in part to Day, however, the Rams made a game of it in the second half.
“It just took us awhile to figure them out and get used to their defensive intensity,” Day said. “We’re not used to seeing teams with that kind of defensive pressure, but once we figured that out, I think we knew we could compete.”
Reach George Hammond at email@example.com.