For more than half the game, Delone Catholic did a really good job on North Penn-Mansfield star Karson Dominick, but there were two stretches where the Squires could do nothing to stop him.
That proved too much for Delone to overcome in its 68-65 season-ending loss in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A tournament Saturday afternoon in front of a spirited crowd at Sonny Sheppard Gym in McSherrystown.
Dominick, a junior who tallied his 1,000th career point earlier this season, entered the game averaging 19.1 ppg, and the Squires had no answer for him in the last six minutes of each half. In those two stretches, he posted 24 of his game-high 26 points. He also grabbed eight boards in the game.
“We knew about (Dominick) and (Brody Burleigh), and we let (Dominick) get loose a few times and you can’t do that. He’s an excellent player,” Delone head coach Brandon Staub said. “What we didn’t expect was for (Alex Davis) to really hurt us and he did.”
Davis came into the game averaging 8.7 ppg and he went for a career-high 23 points.
Mansfield (25-3) trailed, 62-61, when head coach Kipper Burleigh called for time with 28 ticks remaining.
The Tigers got the ball inside to Brody Burleigh, who scored and was fouled six seconds later. He converted the free throw to give the visitors a 64-62 advantage.
A missed shot by Delone was followed by a pair of freebies from Dominick with nine seconds left, and Delone’s Gage Zimmerman responded with a triple from the top of the key with three ticks left.
Staub called Delone’s final timeout and the Squires then fouled Dominick after less than a second had elapsed.
Dominick calmly drained both free throws, but the hosts still had a chance to tie and almost did. Cam Keller’s 3-point attempt from 30 feet out spun in and out and the Tigers slipped away with the victory.
“We didn’t have a timeout to use there and we still got a great look,” Staub said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t fall, but we couldn’t have asked for a better look.”
The opening half was tight all the way and the visitors went to the break ahead, 32-30, following a run-out layup by Cooper Shaw just before the halftime horn.
Delone (17-9) tied the game on a pair of charity tosses by Bryson Kopp and took a 35-32 lead when Kopp buried one from deep at the 7:12 mark of the third quarter.
The Squires were able to build a five-point advantage twice in the third quarter and led 47-45 when the frame ended after Shaw knocked down a triple with four seconds to play in the stanza.
Davis’ old-fashioned 3-point play with 6:42 to go leveled the game at 48, the first of four ties over the next three minutes.
A pair of Kopp free throws with 3:09 left pushed the hosts in front, 58-56, but a bomb by Dominick from the right wing, off of a drive and kick from Davis pushed Mansfield back in front, 59-58, with 2:43 remaining.
“That was a very good high school basketball game with a lot of action,” Staub said. “I’m super proud of our guys. They played really hard and gave everything that they had.”
Kopp and Aidan Bealmear led the way for the Squires with 15 and 14 points, respectively with Kopp bringing down six boards.
Keller and Zimmerman each put up 11 markers.
Delone’s final record matches the mark that the Squires posted in the 2021-22 campaign and they’ll return all but two players (Kopp and Bealmear) from their regular rotation next season.
“I’m definitely proud of the guys for the season that they had,” Staub said. “We bring back a lot next season and we expect to be in the mix in the division next year. We want to make the county tournament, make a run in districts and qualify for states. Our goals are the same every season.”
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas
Mansfield 12 20 13 23 — 68
Delone 13 17 17 18 — 65
North Penn-Mansfield (68): Sam Lawrence 1 0-0 3, Brody Burleigh 4 3-3 11, Alex Davis 8 6-9 23, Cooper Shaw 2 0-0 6, Karson Dominick 9 4-4 26. Totals: 24 13-16 68.
Delone Catholic (65): Aidan Wittmer 2 0-0 6, Cam Keller 4 2-2 11, Gage Zimmerman 4 1-4 11, Bryson Kopp 2 10-10 15, Brady Dettinburn 2 0-0 6, Braden Smith 1 0-0 2, Aidan Bealmear 5 0-0 14. Non-scorers: Matt Grenchik, J.D. Sieg. Totals: 20 13-16 65.
3-pointers: NPM-Dominick 4, Lawrence, Davis, Shaw; DC-Bealmear 4, Wittmer 2, Zimmerman 2, Dettinburn 2, Keller, Kopp.
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