FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - They played three overtimes in their District 11 football playoff this past fall with North Schuylkill coming away with the win.
They played two overtimes last night, in a District 11 3A first round game and this time, Panther Valley grabbed the win.
The Panthers rode a 22-point, 11-rebound performance by 6-6 sophomore Brock Mitchell and held off the Spartans for a 50-49 victory at North Schuylkill.
The win, their first district playoff win since March 7, 1990, earned the Panthers a meeting with No. 1 seed Pottsville on Friday night at Blue Mountain at 7:30.
"Coming up here we knew it was going to be a battle," said Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie. "Everyone talked about how we won the first two against them, but they were both tight games that could have went either way. And this one was no different."
After both teams matched each other with 13 points in the first overtime, no one would have thought that Kyle Picht's three-point play (driving layup and free throw) off of the tap would be all the Panthers would need in the second OT to win it.
All the Spartans could muster was a layup off a steal by Kody Flail with 58 seconds left leaving them one point short.
Both teams missed free throws in the second four-minute period, but it was a great defensive play by Mitchell that kept the Panthers in front.
The Spartans called time out with 11 seconds left and tried to lob it in to their leading scorer, Steve Ennis and Damian Lewis knocked it away. Mitchell grabbed it and was fouled with two seconds remaining. He missed the front end of the one-and-one, but all the Spartans could do was throw up a desperation shot after the buzzer sounded.
"We fell behind by six in the first overtime and had a little bit of a mountain to climb," said Crampsie. "But we played smart and we played tough and with our hearts and let it all hang out. I couldn't be more proud of them.
"North Schuylkill runs that lob to Ennis a lot and they're very successful at it. They got us on it in the first half so we wanted them to have to do something different. We didn't want Ennis on the lob or (Gerard) Anthony spotting up to beat us."
The Panthers took control early as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Spartans came back with seven points in the final 2:30 of the first quarter to trail 8-7 after one.
Mitchell wound up eight of the Panthers' 10 points in the second quarter as they held on to a 18-16 lead at intermission.
Things tightened up in the second half as the score was tied four times in the third quarter before PV went up by three (31-28) off a Joe Revell three-pointer.
Neither team did much offensively in the fourth quarter as the Panthers wound up with just three points, but the Spartans managed six to tie it and send it to overtime.
The Panthers not only trailed in the first OT, but were still down by three when Logan Stano, who added 10 points on the night, fouled out with 31 seconds to go. Picht stepped up and drained a three-pointer with 40 seconds left to tie it and send it into the deciding overtime.
"We had huge minutes off of our bench," said Crampsie. "First half it was B.J. Ahner. The second half it was Joe Revell and Thad Ogozalek. We couldn't have got it done without them."
Ennis had 14 and Zach Parnell added 11 for the Spartans.
"We had enough opportunities to win," said North Schuylkill head coach Curt Ziegmont. "For some reason, turnovers hurt us down the stretch.
"I thought our pressure was doing a good job, but their big guys were killing us inside. Our guys weren't rotating defensively and we weren't being physical enough to box them out. You can't stop their two big guys all night, especially with our biggest guy six foot tall."
Stanko 1-1-3-3, Ogozalek 0-0-0-0, Revell 2-0-0-5, Picht 2-1-1-6, Damian Lewis 1-2-5-4, Mitchell 9-4-7-22, Ahner 0-0-0-0, Stano 5-0-0-10. TOTALS: 20-8-16-50.
Hogan 2-4-4-8, Ennis 5-2-2-14, Anthony 0-0-0-0, Chernewski 1-0-0-3, Parnell 4-3-6-11, McCloskey 1-0-0-2, Flail 1-2-2-4, Dumbosky 3-1-2-7, Spotts 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-12-16-49.
Panther Vy. 8 10 13 3 13 3 - 50
No. Schuy. 7 9 12 6 13 2 - 49
Three-Pointers: PV - Revell 1, Picht 1; NS - Ennis 2, Chernewski 1.