Eagles win at the buzzer


Persistence pays off with Middletown Christian putback
CARLISLE — The act of following through was a common theme for the visiting Middletown Christian High School boys basketball team as they dealt with the noise of a pro-Carlisle crowd in The Pit.

So it was fitting that the Eagles won Tuesday’s nonleague battle by doing just that.

With the game tied at 68-all, thanks to Andrew Goodpaster’s rainbow 3-pointer from the left corner with three seconds to go, MCS had time for one more desperation scoring try.

And in those three seconds, the Eagles’ Zach Wise got off a potential game-winning shot from the left side that clanked off the backboard and off to the right where MCS teammate Jeff Hembree was following through on the play. Hembree put up a shot from the right which went in just as the buzzer sounded to end the game, giving the Eagles an thrilling 70-68 win.

“It just came out for the better of us, because we followed the play through until the buzzer sounded,” Hembree said. “Oh man! It was like I could fly for a second. I started jumping and the guys tackled me and everything. It was a pretty amazing feeling.”

MCS coach Luke Gibson said the final play went as he drew it up during the team’s final timeout ... right up to Hembree’s rebound and game-wininng score.

“Everything executed until Jeff got that rebound. That wasn’t planned, but what a great play,” he said. “One thing we drill all week is to anticipate the next play. Never assume that if one of our best shooters takes a shot, that he’s going to hit it. Zach’s capable of always hitting that shot, but Jeff just kept going in, and he got the rebound. It was amazing.”

Hembree’s heroics offset a game-high 22-point effort from Goodpaster. It also overshadowed the Eagles’ team-high 20-point effort by Zach Henderson.

Carlisle battled back from a pair of 10-point deficits and trailed by seven points with 1:01 left in the game.

But Carlisle’s Jon Back hit a pair of free throws on one possession, Evan Helton scored with 41 seconds to go, then Back drained a jumper from the right side to pull within the Indians (1-1) within one point (66-65) with 27 seconds left to play.

Hembree then got behind Carlisle’s full-court press for a lay-up that put the Eagles (2-0) up 68-65 with 10 seconds to go. That’s when Goodpaster drained his second trey of the game to tie it up with three ticks left.

“I thought both teams gave great effort tonight. ... It was one of those games that went back and forth and, unfortunately for us, they made the last play,” Carlisle coach Jeff Waugh said.

“We knew we were up against a good team at their place against a noisy crowd,” Henderson said. “We just played through it. That’s what we want to do all year long.”