Montour cut down to size in Class AAA semis

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Montour had rallied enough times in the season, and another in the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball semifinals seemed inevitable.

But with just over four minutes left in its game against District 12 fourth-place finisher Archbishop Carroll of Radnor, it seemed the miracle finishes were exhausted.

The Spartans were down by 11 with 4:09 to play after a three-point play by Carroll senior point guard Yosef Yacob, a transfer from Chester. The Patriots had used their significant size advantage to control the paint. And the shots just weren't dropping the way the Spartans had hoped.

Coffin, meet nail.

Except ...

A sudden reversal of fortune -- an Archbishop Carroll turnover and two fouls in 10 seconds on Yacob, who fouled out with 3:59 left -- gave the Spartans an opening. But some last-minute hiccups kept Montour from pulling off another rally again, falling to Carroll, 50-45, at Chambersburg Area High School.

The loss left Montour with a final record of 25-5 and just short of a third consecutive appearance in the PIAA championship. Instead, Archbishop Carroll (23-6) moves on to play Imhotep Charter (27-5) at 8 p.m. Friday at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., in an all-District 12 final. Imhotep defeated Donegal, 56-54, in the other Class AAA semifinal.

It was just about as tough as a loss gets, considering where the Spartans had come from in this game.

From that 11-point deficit, Montour put together another familiar rally, similar to its 47-40 WPIAL championship triumph over Chartiers Valley 19 days ago. Methodically working the entire floor, Montour tied the score at 45-45 on two free throws by Devin Wilson with 59.7 seconds left.

Momentum seemingly had become the Spartans' best friend, but then deserted Montour at the worst possible time. As it turned out, Wilson's two free throw would be Montour's final points of the season.

Carroll, which had not scored a field goal since Yacob's three-point play, took a 47-45 lead on Ernest Aflakpui's lay-in with 44 seconds left. A miss at the other end and two free throws by Nick Jones made it 49-45 with 25.2 seconds remaining.

Still, Montour had a chance. But Wilson pushed a little too deep into Carroll's outstanding sophomore forward Derick Jones and missed from the baseline. Wilson would get off two more shots, but the clock had finally put an end to Montour's PIAA hopes.

"Those two possessions at the end hurt us," Montour coach Adam Kaufman said. "It's a big game, it's state semifinals, and we had some anxiety and excitement. It's what happens in these games."

Montour had trouble with Carroll's huge front line -- Jones is 6 feet 6 and Aflakpui is 6-9, while the Spartans had no one over 6-4.

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