A group of Hampton players walked outside the team's locker room Tuesday night repeatedly shouting the words, "Why is he so good?"
The person they were referring to was Ryan Luther.
Moments earlier, Luther answered that question emphatically.
Luther's driving shot with 1.8 seconds left gave Class AAAA No. 2 Hampton a thrilling, 59-58 win against visiting Class AAA No. 2 Mars in a non-section game between longtime rivals.
"There's a reason he's the top junior in the WPIAL," Mars coach Rob Carmody said of Luther, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward. "That's what a guy like that does."
With Mars ahead by one with 8.3 seconds remaining, Hampton's Jack Obringer took an inbound pass from just inside midcourt and dribbled to the right side.
Mars' Garrett Ashbaugh tightly defended him, so Obringer slipped a bounce pass to Luther, who slashed to his left and knocked down a shot in the paint from about 10 feet away while being fouled. Luther missed the foul shot, but the damage was done.
"We were trying to do a give-and-go," Luther said. "If it wasn't there, I was supposed to slash to the basket, so I went backdoor and made the play."
Hampton coach Joe Lafko added, "We told him in that timeout that he had the green light."
Luther finished with a game-high 19 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. He was 7 of 16 from the field and added 10 rebounds.
He also made two of Hampton's eight 3-pointers.
After competing in the same section for more than a decade, Hampton (3-0) and Mars (2-1) split this season with the Talbots moving up to Class AAAA.
Mars led three times -- 2-0, 45-44 and 58-57 -- but the Planets remained within striking distance throughout and took their final lead when Matt Getsy drove down the right side and banked in a floater with 15.3 seconds left.
Getsy scored a team-high 17.
But one clutch shot was replaced by another when Ryan Luther pulled off his heroics.
David Huber scored 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter, allowing the Talbots to stay in control even though Luther was held scoreless in that period.
The Talbots, a WPIAL runner-up and PIAA semifinalist last season, won despite committing 19 turnovers.
Mars' Josh Goetz, a 6-8 senior center, came on strong down the stretch, scoring all of his 12 points in the second half after sitting out the second quarter because of foul trouble.
"In our section, there's going to be games like this every night," Luther said. "It was good to get the win in this one."mobilehome - hsbasketball