READING — For just the second time in the past five years, Carlisle will not be in the state playoffs.
For just the second time in the past five years, Carlisle was knocked out in the first round of districts.
That is the reality for the Thundering Herd, a squad that was beginning a run to the PIAA Class 6A semifinals last year at this time. They lost Tuesday night in the first round of the District 3 Class 6A tournament, the No. 10 seed falling to No. 7 Wilson 70-49 at Wilson High School.
When asked after the game which loss hurt more, the state semis or the district opener, Herd coach Andre Anderson said, “A little bit of both.”
“I love this crew here, I love those five seniors,” he added about a five-man group headlined by Gavyn and Ki Barnes, but also includes Joe Mastrangelo, Eveyon Davis and the injured Nigel Newson.
That group, and especially the Barneses and Mastrangelo, are the last with a significant hand in consecutive runs to the PIAA quarterfinals. Outside of their freshman year, the 2018 class does not know failure — and yes, by Anderson’s standards, a first-round exit is a failure — at the varsity level.
“All the things that they were able to accomplish, and you gotta stay positive about that,” Anderson said.
It’s a group that went to battle shoulder to shoulder with Deshawn Millington, Nate Barnes, Ethan Houston and Ben Milligan for two years and then had the chance on their own to try and lead a similar run.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
“Yeah, we had high hopes,” said Gavyn Barnes, who finished 2-for-11 for six points, not making a bucket until the fourth quarter. “Our goal is always to get back to where we were or a little better. It sucks that it fell short this year.”
“Definitely knowing the past couple years of success we had, definitely hurts a lot more knowing that we came up a lot shorter this year. First round,” new Lackawanna commit Ki Barnes said after he led Carlisle with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting with three 3-pointers.
Their careers came to an end over three quarters of sheer Bulldogs (15-9) dominance. After taking a 19-8 lead late in the first quarter, Carlisle (12-11) succumbed to a 27-5 run that spanned nearly 15 minutes of game time.Think these last 10 seconds encapsulate @CHSboysbball in 2Q. Offense all out of whack. Completely different team from 1Q.
— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) February 21, 2018 At first the Herd made shots and grabbed defensive rebounds. But that came to a screeching halt at the end of eight minutes.
Wilson, which finished second in Berks Conference Division I with loses of two points or less to Berks Catholic and Reading, simply shot Carlisle out of the Bulldogs’ gym, going 8-of-14 in the decisive second frame. They finished 26-of-48 on the night and never shot less than 40 percent in a quarter.
— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) February 21, 2018 The Bulldogs had a step and a half on Herd’s defense for the better part of the game, a rare occurrence for a normal quick defense.
“We have some clever guards,” Wilson coach Matt Coldren said. “[Steve Mitchell’s] very clever with the ball, Bryce [Calloway] has a great first step.”
And on offense Carlisle went from lighting up Wilson — 6-of-13 in the opening stanza — to struggling to put anything together. Wilson switched from man to zone late in the first quarter, then back to man once they had taken control. Carlisle had no answer.
“I thought the zone slowed them down a little bit, it kind of changed the pace of the game,” Coldren said.
HARRISBURG — Cedar Cliff’s season came to a tough ending Tuesday night.
“Everything was going perfect there for a while, and then had a couple turnovers, a couple fouls on Joe [Mastrangelo], those things that have been hurting us all year, they came into play,” Anderson said.
No single Bulldog took ownership for any short stretch. Seven scored in the second quarter and 10 had a bucket by night’s end. Freshman guard Mitchell, a Berks Conference Division I All-Star, came off the bench for a game-high 19 points, displaying variety in his shot selection and superb court vision with several second-half assists.
“He’s very talented,” Coldren said. “I will not hide the fact that I believe he is by far our best offensive player.”
Yet it wasn’t like that at first. Carlisle dominated the first quarter with crisp ball movement on offense and a suffocating defense, especially on the glass.
Gavyn Barnes, who had six boards, quarterbacked the gym well, and Ki Barnes and Howie Rankine drilled four silky jumpers, including three from range.
But Mastrangelo’s foul trouble — he eventually fouled out — and Wilson’s zone shut things down and the Herd reverted to their worst selves, panicking and trying to do too much on their own. Ball movement disappeared and circus shots became the norm.
“It was just discipline,” Gavyn Barnes said. “It was our own fault. We didn’t come out ready for the second quarter.”
Rankine finished with 13 points. Mastrangelo finished with four and five rebounds.
Wilson faces No. 2 Hempfield in Friday’s quarterfinals.