NEW HOLLAND — At various times Thursday night, Carlisle played the part of motivated participant and bewildered observer.
In the end, though — after a tremendously long 32 minutes of game action — the Thundering Herd are into the PIAA Elite Eight thanks to an 85-69 victory over District 12’s Abraham Lincoln in the Class 6A second round at Garden Spot High School.
Lincoln, out of the Philadelphia Public League, never seemed to adjust to the way the game was officiated. The Rail Splitters were tagged for 38 fouls, including seven technical fouls and one intentional foul.
Andre Anderson’s Herd (20-8), whistled for 25 fouls of their own, took advantage with 50 trips to the free-throw line, sinking 30 of them.
“That was probably the longest game I’ve ever been a part of with all the technicals,” senior forward Ethan Houston said.
Added senior forward Nate Barnes: “That game was definitely dragging on.”
And, as Anderson observed, it barely seemed to progress forward, a fact that drove him batty on the sideline because his boys, despite a 49-25 advantage three minutes into the second half, couldn’t completely shake Lincoln until the final minutes.
“I felt like the clock wasn’t ticking at one point,” he said. “I looked up, and it felt like we played an entire third quarter, and there was 5 minutes left on the clock. That just comes from us being content. You can’t get ahead like that and get content; you have to keep pushing that pedal down to the ground.
“We got into their game, started chipping with them, going back and forth. And we can’t do that. We’ve got to continue doing what we do, playing Carlisle basketball, not let them dictate what happens on the court. And we did that for a stretch there, but we’ll bounce back. Biggest thing about this is we came out with the W, and we’re advancing to the Elite Eight.”
Carlisle will meet District 11’s fourth seed, Emmaus, in Saturday’s quarterfinals at a site and time to be determined. Emmaus eliminated the Herd’s arch rival, Harrisburg, by a 64-61 count in another second-round game Thursday night.
The Herd never trailed against Lincoln, racing to leads of 6-2 and 10-3 in the first quarter and first hitting a double-digit advantage late in the first half.
Deshawn Millington scored a team-high 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and added 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals. Barnes scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds, while Houston scored 19, and Gavyn Barnes netted 16.
Carlisle dominated the glass by a 55-42 advantage, with Ki Barnes adding six points and six rebounds, and Houston also snagging five rebounds.
“We knew we just had to hit them low, hit ‘em right at the thighs, push them out the paint, either pin them under the rim or keep them out the paint completely,” said Nate Barnes, who had 10 rebounds by halftime. “And that’s what we did.”
A 3-pointer by Houston and two free throws by Nate Barnes gave Carlisle that 24-point advantage early in the third, but the Rail Splitters (23-6) kept fighting — both on the court and with officials.
They lulled the Herd into a false sense of security and were able to strike back within 15 points (59-44) late in the third. The lead dipped as low as 14 points (62-48) early in the fourth, then was sliced to 12 (70-58) with 3:10 left.
But Carlisle kept taking advantage of the various technical fouls, with Houston at one point making five of six freebies with 1:41 left after Shikeir Morrison (10 points) and an assistant coach were both ejected.
“I’m guessing where they play in Philly, they talk a lot and don’t get called like they would with these refs,” Houston said. “But I’m sure once they started playing and the refs heard them, they started T’ing them up. And they weren’t allowed to play how they usually do.”
Marlon Sharpton led the Splitters with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, with Saleh El adding 11 points. But three players ultimately fouled out in addition to Morrison’s ejection.
“I felt we handled the press tremendously in the first half,” Anderson said. “We shared the ball, we got it to everybody, we made that extra pass, but then we started playing right into their hands. We started turning the ball over, we started missing free throws, and we can’t do that. We can’t get complacent. We can’t be content when we’re up like that. We’ve got to get a bigger lead.
“My guys know what they did wrong, and we’re coming out of here positive, we’re coming out of here happy because we got the W, but there are some things we’ve got to get right for that next game. You can’t do what we did tonight in that second half and win too many games. Luckily we had that big lead.”