Giant win over the Scouts sends Central to Hershey

By on February 20, 2014

Manheim Central’s Matt Walsh, who finished with a game-high 24 points, dribbles around Conrad Weiser’s Pierce Brosious in Tuesday’s District playoff game. Photo by Stan Hall

Manheim Central’s Matt Walsh, who finished with a game-high 24 points, dribbles around Conrad Weiser’s Pierce Brosious in Tuesday’s District playoff game. Photo by Stan Hall

Walsh scores 24 points in 52-50 OT thriller

Up until now, the Manheim Central boys have refused to talk about it.

Sure, going to the Giant Center, a reward for getting to the District Three Triple-A quarterfinals, was in the back of their mind.

But all season long, even as they won 18 games in a row and won the Section Three title, that was never a topic of discussion around the team.

Now it is.

Behind a monster night from junior Matt Walsh, who led all scorers with 24 points while grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds, the 7th-seeded Barons out-lasted 10-seeded Conrad Weiser 52-50 in OT in an opening-round District playoff game in Manheim to advance to the quarterfinal-round in Chocolatetown.

“I don’t give (Matt) enough credit,” Manheim Central coach Chris Sherwood said. “I’m on him non-stop at practice, I yell and holler at him, I am miserable to Matt Walsh. He was awesome tonight. He was flat-out awesome.”

The Central boys (22-3) will have an awesome challenge in front of them this Friday night when they face 2nd-seeded West York (23-2), an 87-83 winner over 15th-seeded Milton Hershey, in the Round of Eight. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“We don’t talk about it, we really don’t. But this has been on everybody’s mind, going to play in the Giant Center. So yes, it means a lot,” said Sherwood, moments after handing his daughter Rylee a Hershey’s candy bar. “It means a lot for the kids. This is a big deal for kids to go to Hershey. It’s the high school championship capital of the State. That’s where you want to go.”

Tuesday’s game was certainly a big deal for both teams. Neither led by more than five points and Dexter Jordan’s 3-pointer with 1:15 left in the half gave the Scouts a 22-20 edge going to the lockers.

The lead changed hands seven times in the third, and back-to-back layups by Walsh capped a 6-0 MC run which put them in front 35-30. But Conrad Weiser responded with an eight-point surge of its own, capitalizing on four turnovers by Central to start the fourth, and a layup by junior guard Cartier Talford with 6:23 left in the fourth put the Scouts up 38-35.

For Talford, who averages 13.3 ppg, that was two of just four points in the game. But Jordan and sophomore guard Pierce Brosious hurt the Barons with their penetration into the lane, combining for 10 points to help complement 6-foot-7 center Andy Orr, who finished a team-high 21 points and a game-high 15 boards.

“I thought their guards were awesome, awesome, getting to the basket,” Sherwood remarked. “Number 4 (Brosious) … On tape he’s not that fast. He’s really fast. He’s going to be a really good player in a couple years. I thought he did a heck of a job, along with their two other guards, who always do a really good job.”

After Central took a 39-38 on two free throws by Taylor Funk (14 points), Brosious hit a short pull-up J following a Central turnover, putting the Scouts in front 40-39 with :49 to go. On the Barons’ next possession, Walsh was called for a charge, but Brosious missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with :19.1 on the clock. Walsh grabbed the board and then guard Tony Staffieri drew contact and made the front end of a 1-and-1 with :12.4 remaining, tying the game at 40-all.

In the final seconds of regulation, with Conrad Weiser looking to win it, Walsh blocked Brosius’ shot. The ball went to Talford, who missed, and Walsh secured the rebound as time expired.

“I felt like Matt rotated as well as he’s ever done defensively,” Sherwood said. “I thought he was around the basketball. These are things we’ve been begging him to do is be around the ball defensively, and I thought he was there today.”

Walsh was also there at the offensive end in the OT, nailing a trey and then sinking a pull-up J, making it 45-42 with 2:45 left.

“I think (Matt) decided, ‘I’m going to take this over.’ I really do,” Sherwood said. “He had buckets with guys draped on him. I thought Matt was awesome tonight.”

Funk’s triple with 2:05 remaining pushed the lead to 48-44, but the Scouts didn’t go away and Orr’s dunk at the :56 mark tied it 50-all.

It was Walsh who hit the go-ahead shot, a floater with :28 left, and Conrad Weiser had one final chance when Orr went to the line with :3.2 left. He missed both shots, though, and that was the game.

When the clock hit zeroes, the Barons could finally turn their attention to the Giant Center.

“It’s a big step for these guys and I’m just happy for the kids, I really am,” Sherwood said. “I can’t say enough about this group.”

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