CLYMER, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Things were bleak.
Karns City trailed on the road at Penns Manor 45-38 with a little less than a minute remaining. Statistically, the odds of a team coming back from that deficit with so little time on the clock are very slim.
Don’t tell that to the Gremlins.
Luke Cramer hit a huge 3-pointer, Penns Manor misfired on the front end of two one-and-one situations and Taite Beighley drove the lane, made a circus layup, was fouled and drained the decisive free throw with less than five seconds remaining to give Karns City an improbable 46-45 victory in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs Wednesday night.
“You have to give all the credit to the kids,” said first-year Karns City coach Zach Kepple. “They never gave up. They battled the whole time.”
It was a strange game even before the wild final minute.
The first half, the offenses were in sync with Penns Manor leading 35-29 at the break.
The second half, defenses ruled.
Kepple and his staff made some adjustments and began bottling up the Comets.
After hitting for 12 points in the first half, Noah Kohen was held to two points for Penns Manor in the final two quarters.
Karns City’s offense also bogged down – until the final frantic minute.
Beighley ended up with 18, none bigger than the three points he scored in the final seconds.
“He came off a screen and he just went straight to the basket,” Kepple said. “He definitely got fouled, and I don’t know how he made that shot – he put some spin on it or something, but the ball went up and went in. He knocked down that free throw right after it. That’s the guy you wanted at the foul line.”
Penns Manor had one final shot.
Max Hill put up a runner from the foul line, but it missed, sending Karns City on to the next round.
The Gremlins will have to wait a day to find out who they will play. The Old Forge vs. Wyalusing game was postponed until tomorrow.
Karns City, the third place team out of District 9, is on the Eastern side of the bracket.
Cramer added 12 for the Gremlins. Micah Rupp scored six points, but also had six blocks and key steal in the final-minute rally.
Rupp has been, well, dis-Rupp-tive as of late with his stellar defense.
“Playing in the KSAC and District 9, you don’t see a lot of guys go up and pin shots against the backboard, but he’s done it five times in the last two games where he just goes after everything,” Kepple said. “He pinned two tonight and swatted away a few more. That always gives our team a ton of energy and he also threw down a dunk tonight on a breakaway. Any time he does something like that, it just sparks the whole team.”