Article by Michael Bullock, The Patriot-News/Photography by The Camera Box
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Admittedly keyed up about pursuing one of those memorable yet slippery milestones, Aaron DeVan was almost there when a reach foul prompted Bishop McDevitt’s coaching staff to sit the prolific senior down and give him a moment to get plugged back in.
Moments later, after a few exhales and several sips of the aqua Gatorade that DeVan has perched near the clock operator, the refueled 6-3 wing rejoined his teammates on the floor. Hardly a coincidence, a critical outburst soon followed.
So did the milestone.
Banking 23 points — including career point No. 1,000 — DeVan sparked McDevitt to a 60-54 decision over host Mechanicsburg in the championship game of the Sauve Brothers Holiday basketball tournament Thursday night at Mechanicsburg High School.
Collin Farnham and Josh Smith shared 24 points for the Wildcats (3-5), who sported a 29-21 advantage at the half and led by as many as 11 points (34-23) early in the third.
And while DeVan may have been pressing, Mechanicsburg’s Bob Strickler wasn’t about to allow him to get to 1,000 without a struggle. So he rotated a trio of gritty defenders — Andrew Spanos, Brett Minter and Joe Hennessy — on the McDevitt standout throughout.
Even went box-and-one.
“We took it to him and I think we frustrated Aaron,” Strickler said. “I think he was pressing, but he loosened up after he got [his 1,000th point]. They had that luxury [of taking him out], I didn’t.”
Things changed dramatically once DeVan, who had eight points at halftime and 10 early in the third quarter, took that temporary seat and slugged some Gatorade.
Although a Brooks 3-ball ignited McDevitt’s pivotal 15-0 spurt — the Crusaders were trailing 36-27 — DeVan promptly scored the next eight points. A trey from the left wing that gave him the milestone. A finish in transition. Another trey from the right wing that pushed McDevitt ahead 38-36.
All three buckets came on dishes from Gantz.
“I was just surprised,” said DeVan, who transferred to McDevitt last season after two years at Central Dauphin East. “I was just surprised they left me open twice in a row.”
“I don’t think [Aaron] was nervous,” McDevitt senior lead guard Jaquan Johnson said. “I think he was anxious.”
“It’s the blue Gatorade.”
Brooks capped the run with a finish at the rim, giving the Crusaders a 42-36 cushion late in the third. While the Wildcats clawed to within two (47-45) with just over five minutes to play, they couldn’t draw closer — even though McDevitt made just 10 of 22 free throws down the stretch.
While the night and the tournament MVP award belonged to DeVan, he was even more pleased to play a significant role in a much-needed victory.
“That’s huge [to win these two games],” admitted DeVan, who commended Polacheck and Gantz for their contributions. “Coming off of those [four straight losses], Coach said we had to get two wins to get on the upside again and get some momentum going into the second half of the season.”
“I’m just proud of the kids,” Hoke said. “I’m proud of Aaron. He’s one of the most unselfish 1,000-point scorers you’ll find.”
Brett Smith poured in 27 points as Delone Catholic popped Boiling Springs 67-49 in the consolation game. Matt Gelber topped the Bubblers with 17 points.
Smith, Gelber and the Mechanicsburg duo of John Thompson and Josh Smith joined DeVan and Polacheck on the all-tournament team. Thompson, who cranked out a double-double in Wednesday night’s win over Boiling Springs, had 13 boards against McDevitt.
Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel
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Bishop McDevitt rallied from 11 points down in the third quarter to take out Mechanicsburg 60-54 to capture the Sauve Brothers Athletic Express and Mechanicsburg Athletic Department Holiday Tournament for the second consecutive year at Mechanicsburg High School Thursday night.
Mechanicsburg came out on fire and took an early lead in the championship game and was able to maintain that lead into the third quarter. Collin Farnham drained three treys and point guard Josh Smith added seven pooints to the Wildcat cause.
Wildcat coach Bobby Strickler tried a box and one defense to try to disrupt the game of Crusader sharp-shooter Aaron Devan. Andrew Spanos started on Devan, but picked up two fouls in 48 seconds forcing Joe Hennessy, Farnham, Brett Minter and John Thompson at various times to guard Devan. Devan ended the contest with 23 points, including career point number 1000 on a trey from the top of the key in the third quarter.
Devan struggled early in the game partly due to the defense, but also because he was pressing to get his points.
Crusader coach Jeff Hoke sat Devan down for about one minute and when he came back in, he caught fire. He and Jordan Brooks canned back to back threes to jumpstart a 15-0 run.
“Aaron is a special kid,” Hoke said. “His is probably the quietest 1000 points because he is so unselfish. Taking him out was the call of my assistant coaches, not me. They were going to tackle me if I didn’t take him out, but we can’t afford to have him off the floor.”
“My kids played their hearts out tonight,” Strickler said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the effort they put forth tonight. Josh Smith played very well tonight. We just had a couple of times where we didn’t execute well on offense — not for lack of effort but sometimes trying to make that extra pass.”
The Wildcats cut the lead to 50-48 and 56-52 in the final minutes, but couldn’t get over that hump in the foul fest in which more fouls were called in the final 10 minutes than were called in the first 22 minutes. The two teams shot a combined 40 foul shots in the final ten minutes. Both coaches expressed dismay with the officials durng the contest.
Brooks added 18 points to the Crusader offense and D.J. Polacek had only five points, but came up with many crucial loose-ball situations. Malik Gantz scored four points, but added six rebounds and four blocked shots in the second half.
Mechanicsburg hosts Red Land Tuesday night while the Bubblers travel to Susquenita.