TUESDAY'S DISTRICT 3 BOYS' BASKETBALL: York Suburban roars back to beat Mechanicsburg

ROB ROSE
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As the York Suburban Trojans walked back to their bench, down by 13 points after a dreadful first quarter, there was no panic from the players or the head coach.

Suburban coach Mitch Kemp wasn’t happy that the team's trend of slow starts had carried into the postseason. Still, he was confident that his talented outfit would find a way to win.

Meanwhile, seniors Alon Gorham and Aidan Hughley and junior Camden Brewer came together to ensure Tuesday night would not be the last time they stepped onto the floor together.

“Between the three of us, we knew the end result wasn’t going to be that,” Gorham said. “We knew we were going to turn things around and we did that … This is our home court and we didn’t want this to be our last game. We let them know this is our game, this is our court and we’re going to take over and we turned the game around.”

Suburban did just that, outscoring Mechanicsburg by 25 points in the final three quarters to claim a 66-54 victory and advance to the District 3 Class 5-A quarterfinals.

York Suburban's Aiden Hughley looks to the hoop against pressure from Mechanicsburg's Tyree Morris in a District 3 Class 5-A boys' basketball first-round game at York Suburban Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The Trojans overcame a 6-point halftime deficit to win 67-54. Bill Kalina photo

Hughley comes up big in the second half: A big part of the Trojans’ comeback win was the play of Hughley after halftime. The standout senior had six points before the break and was bothered by the Wildcats’ defensive plan and 6-foot, 6-inch senior Tyree Morris. In the final 16 minutes, the Shepherd University recruit poured in 10 points after a little reassurance about his abilities from his coach.

“You’re a hell of a player. You’re an (NCAA) Division II athlete. Play your game,” Kemp said of his message to Hughley. “He started to slow down and do the things we know he’s capable of doing and had a big second half.”

The eighth-seeded Trojans (14-5) trailed by six at halftime and, despite a big run in the third quarter led by Gorham, still trailed by five heading into the final quarter. Gorham was fired up after he received a technical foul for a reaction he had after a Wildcats player fouled him and he scored seven points to keep his team close.

“After that I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to take over the game,’” Gorham said. “I went on a run myself and then my team took over too and that changed the game.”

York Suburban's Alon Gorham draws a foul against  Mechanicsburg's Nicholas Morrison in a District 3 Class 5-A boys' basketball first-round game at York Suburban Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The Trojans went on to win 67-54. Bill Kalina photo

Once the fourth quarter began, Hughley and Brewer stepped up to lock up the win. Brewer hit a 3-pointer to tie the game and scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the last eight minutes, while Hughley added eight of his 16 points.

Suburban took the lead on a put-back layup by Brady Stump and didn’t let ninth-seeded Mechanicsburg (11-8) get close to its own comeback. Gorham handled the ball late and guided his teammates to the double-digit win.

York Suburban's Avant Sweeney drives with Mechanicsburg's Lukas Rhodes defending in a District 3 Class 5-A boys' basketball first-round game at York Suburban Tuesday, March 2, 2021.  The Trojans went on to win 67-54. Bill Kalina photo

No. 1 seed Northern up next: Up next for Suburban is a rematch with No. 1 seed Northern York (18-0). The teams played on Feb. 24 and the Polar Bears won, 61-44. Despite the lopsided score, Kemp isn’t concerned, since his team was missing its starting guards — Brewer and sophomore Avant Sweeney — during the first meeting vs. Northern.

“They may think they just beat us by 17 (and) that we’re a walk over, but if we play the way we did tonight I have all the confidence in the world in these guys to go in there and get a win,” Kemp said. 

Brewer had the same mindset as his coach following the wild win. The Trojans’ goal is to get back to the state playoffs and to do that, they must continue winning. This year, only district champions will advance to the state playoffs.

York Suburban's Camden Brewer drives against Mechanicsburg's James Anderson in a District 3 Class 5-A boys' basketball first-round game at York Suburban Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The Trojans went on to win 67-54. Bill Kalina photo

The process of getting back to states would be even sweeter if the Trojans could give some payback to the Polar Bears along the way.

“It’s a good feeling to celebrate, but at the end of the day we gotta sit back and realize that’s just one step on the journey,” Brewer said. “We just lost to them, (so) we’re encouraged to come out (and) win that game and take it one step at a time.”

OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL

Northern York 66, Susquehannock 48: At Dillsburg, the Warriors gave the unbeaten Polar Bears a serious scare for awhile before Northern pulled away late in a District 3 Class 5-A first-round game. Susquehannock led 19-13 after one quarter and trailed just 26-24 at halftime. The top-seeded Bears finished the game on a 15-3 run to improve to 18-0. No. 16 seed Susquehannock finished at 9-8. Zach French led Northern with 18 points. Jordan Heisey added 17 and Tyler Weary chipped in 16. Jalen Franklin poured in 22 points for the Warriors.

Lampeter-Strasburg 57, Northeastern 38: At Lampeter, the Bobcats dropped the District 3 Class 5-A first-round contest. No. 11 seed Northeatern finished at 11-7. No. 6 seed L-S improved to 9-3. Kaden Hamilton had 12 points for Northeastern, while Karron Mallory added 10. Ty Burton had 27 points for L-S, while Luka Vranich added 18.

Lower Dauphin 55, South Western 26: At Lower Dauphin, the Mustangs saw their season end with a District 3 Class 5-A first-round setback. No. 15 seed South Western finished at 6-9. No. 2 seed Lower Dauphin improved to 16-3.

Bishop McDevitt 63, Bermudian Springs 57: At Harrisburg, in a tight, back-and-forth game, McDevitt pulled away late for a District 3 Class 4-A first-round victory. No. 10 seed Bermudian finished 11-7. No. 7 seed McDevitt improved to 11-7. Connor Shaw led Bermudian with 19 points, while Jaylen Martinez had 14 and Jacob Shriver scored 12. Kenyon Elliott (20) and Tristen Waters (17) combined for 37 of McDevitt's points.

Lancaster Catholic 78, Biglerville 40: At Lancaster Catholic, Drew Parker's 25-point effort wasn't enough for the Canners in a District 3 Class 3-A quarterfinal. Eighth-seeded Biglerville finished at 3-16. Top-seeded Lancaster Catholic improved to 16-4. Ross Conway had 21 points for Lancaster Catholic. Biglerville led 23-21 in the second quarter before Lancaster Catholic took control.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.