ARMAGHPa. – United senior Jon Henry failed to score a point in the first half of a District 6 Class 2A quarter-final against visiting Bishop McCort Catholic on Wednesday night.
But Henry made his presence felt in the second half – and in extra time – in front of around 650 fans in a packed gymnasium.
Henry scored his 14 points in the final 20 minutes of play. He was in the perfect spot to exploit a rebound for the game-winning field goal with 4.5 seconds left in a 64-62 overtime victory.
“I just wanted it more,” Henry said. “I didn’t want my season to end tonight. It’s a great way to do it.
Third-seeded United will be 21-4 in the semi-final against second-seeded Penns Manor, a 73-42 winner over No.7 West Branch on Wednesday.
Sixth-seeded Bishop McCort Catholic closed a season 13-10 with a hard-fought effort in a closely contested game, with each team having multiple chances to take control in the final quarter and overtime.
“It was just back and forth,” Bishop McCort’s Catholic coach Chris Pfeil said. “It was a matter of one or two shots going down, balls rolling off the rim the right way, balls bouncing off the rim for rebounds. Give United credit. They scrapped and scratched. They are an excellent, well-trained basketball team.
Junior Brad Felix had a team-high 16 points for United, two clearer than 6-foot-4 Henry. Ben Tomb, another 6-4 senior, had 13 rebounds and four blocked shots to go with nine points.
“I joked with the kids that they were making my hair lighter and lighter,” United manager Matt Rodkey said. “It was stressful for a coach. I’m sure it was great for the fans to watch. I’m so proud of my boys for fighting.
“It’s a shame that a team had to lose this game. Bishop McCort is very well coached and a great program. Their kids are playing so hard and you appreciate that as a coach.
Junior Trystan Fornari had 16 points for the Crimson Crushers. Senior Mason Nash and rookie Colby Cannizzaro each scored 12 points. Senior Colin Stevens had eight rebounds and six points.
“I’m so proud of my seniors,” Pfeil said. “It’s very difficult to say goodbye to five young people who have dedicated themselves to the program as they have. They’re not just good basketball players. They were great kids and great leaders for our underclasses.
United led 15-12 after one quarter, but Bishop McCort beat the Lions 18-10 in the second to lead 30-25 at half-time.
Bishop McCort had a 44-41 advantage for three quarters and led 49-44 with 5:06 remaining after a 3-point Cannizzaro.
The Lions led 51-49 on a Felix field goal at 3:26. There were ties at 49, 51, 54 and 56, the score after settlement as Tomb scored inside with 1:11 remaining.
Each team had two possessions in the final minute, but neither could convert.
United took an 8-6 advantage in extra time, with Henry scoring two field goals, including the biggest of the night.
“Jacob Boring, in the end he was just driving and he ended up laying up,” Henry said. “I was just there for the tip.
“I raised my arm, I pushed it down. There is nothing better than that. It was awesome.”
Rodkey said Henry deserved the big finish.
“Jon Henry is a special kid,” Rodkey said. “He’s just an amazing human being. I love the kid to death.
“Jon broke his elbow in early January. He had to have surgery. He missed about 31/2 weeks only. What a fighter this guy is. He worked so hard because he wanted to come back. He knew this team could be special.
“No one deserves an overtime tip more than Jon Henry.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports journalist and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.