Klingerman drills huge shot to win.

By: Devin Bierly | Williamsport Sun-Gazette | March 15, 2018


HERSHEY — Gerald Ross drove to the baseline, taking a double team with him. The clutch junior stopped on a dime, spun and found an open Mitch Klingerman on the 3-point wing. The senior's eyes widened as the clock ticked below 20 seconds and his team faced a two-point deficit.

He had to make a decision. A quick decision and the right one or his career was over and the rest of his teammates were taking a silent two-hour bus ride home. Klingerman tightly gripped the ball, set his feet and fired away.

A mostly pro-Loyalsock crowd waited in anticipation as Klingerman shuffled his way back to midcourt. Swish with 19 seconds to go. A look of shock came over Klingerman's face. It took a timeout moments later for him to have realized what he just done.

Klingerman's go-ahead 3-pointer gave Loyalsock the lead for good. A Lancer defensive stand, two free throws from Anthony Pastore and another from Klingerman with 1.7 seconds clinched the win as Loyalsock shocked Valley Forge, 54-50, Wednesday night at Milton Hershey High School in the second round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament.

Loyalsock's (22-7) season continues to the quarterfinals where it will play Trinity on Saturday.

Ross (20 points, four steals, three assists) traded fourth-quarter buckets with Division-I recruit Arion Lewis (27 points, three rebounds, two steals), who is receiving interest from Boston University and Lafayette, the Lancer defense played tremendously all game and Klingerman hit the shot of his life to lift Loyalsock to the state quarterfinals for the third time since 2013.

"I think we realized that we didn't want it to come to an end," Klingerman, who totaled eight points, two steals and two assists, said. "We end every practice with, Don't let this me my last. Or don't let this be my, Brandon's and (Ryan Sullivan's) last. We just wanted to keep pushing. We realize that if it comes down to the line like that, fight, fight, fight and do what we have to do to win this game."

"You think about it, he was 20 seconds away from ending his career and he stepped up and didn't think twice about it," Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "He caught and shot and there was ice in his veins tonight."

Klingerman's shot of his life got the Lancers the win, but it was a stingy perimeter defense, a don't-back-down mentality and huge plays late that allowed them to shock the state.

Pastore, Ross and Klingerman pressured the guards up front, forcing 22 turnovers, while Bam Brima, Connor Watkins (seven points, six rebounds, four assists) and Brandon Bauman (four points, three rebounds) battled inside and stepped up and combined to take three charges.

"It started with the guards to put pressure on them and make sure they can't even get it into the big guys and if they did, double and triple team them because they're so big," Ross said.

Loyalsock held the lead for much of the game after jumping out to a 6-0 and 10-2 lead. It held a 24-16 lead early in the third before a 10-0 run from Valley Forge gave it its first lead of the game. Loyalsock regained a six-point lead late in the third on Ross' and-one layup, but the Trojans scored four points in the final 10 seconds.

Neither team could gain any ground early in the fourth, and after Valley Forge tied the game at 43, Ross hit a tough 3-pointer for the 46-43 advantage. The Trojans took a 47-46 lead with 3:25 remaining and Loyalsock went scoreless for the next 90 seconds. Ross forced a five-second count with 2:03 remaining and hit a long jumper over 6-foot-10 Division-I recruit Abraham Deng to retake the lead. Valley Forge countered with three straight for a 50-48 lead but never scored again. After Klingerman's 3, Loyalsock earned a loose ball foul and then Pastore was fouled on the inbounds as he hit two free throws with 14 seconds left. Ross forced a travel by Lewis and Klingerman then hit the game-clinching free throw.

"Something great is happening," Ross said with a grin.