HERSHEY — It had been a tough three days for Boiling Springs leading up to the PIAA Class 2A third-place semifinals at Giant Center.
The Bubblers’ opponent, Muncy, was ready to fight, but that’s what Boiling Springs did all weekend. They fought for a win against Burrell in the third-round consolations earlier in there and they weren’t ready to give up the fight now.
But fight wasn’t enough.
The Bubblers couldn’t get enough separation in a back-and-forth battle in the middle and upperweights, setting up a pivotal three-bout stretch for the Indians in the lightweights, from 106-120, that led to a 37-22 win.
“We should have won a couple of weight classes that we didn’t and got some more bonus points in some weight classes,” Bubblers head coach Rodney Wright said. “But hey, it’s been a long three days, you know? We’re happy... we’ll take that Top 6 in the state.
“I’m proud of these guys. We battled through to make a hopeful run here. I just wanted to come here, win matches and compete, and I think we did that.”
Starting from the 132-pound bout with Benny Garman’s fall to Joe Klock in 1:30, the Indians and Bubblers went back-and-forth through each bout.
One loss haunted the Bubblers was at 220. Austin Taylor, ranked No. 6 in the state, faced Hunter Poust, who is ranked No. 3. It was a rematch from King of the Mountain back in December, a battle Poust won 3-0 in the semifinals.
Poust won again by the same margin, a 6-3 decision, leaving Taylor exhausted and puking on the mat, and putting the Bubblers down 19-16.
At 285, James quickly began racking up points for a 6-0 decision win over Coty Steele to tie the score 19-19 with four bouts to go.
“The only thing I could have done was take Damon James out of heavyweight and put Austin in there. That didn’t make sense,” Wright said. “I would have given him six points there.”
The win also showed a different side of James, who admitted afterward he’s working on starting matches more energetically and maintaining a proactive approach through the rest of the bout.
“Earlier in the season I wasn’t as aggressive or offensive, and I was getting in these 1-1 matches, 2-1 matches,” James said.
But James’ win didn’t set up a Bubbletown run.
The Indians racked up three straight pins at 106 (Jake Blair over James Snyder), 113 (Mario Barberio over Andrew Stafford) and 120 (Christian Good over Peyton Stauffer). It was a match-clinching run, leaving the score 37-19 with just the 126 bout to go.
The Bubblers move into next week’s sectionals tournament with things to work on. But according to James, they can only get better from here.
“If I go out here offensive, if I go out here strong all week at practice, me and my team, we’re all going to come out at sectionals and we’re gonna show that this is not what limits Boiling Springs,” he said.
Muncy fell to Chestnut Ridge in the third-place match 39-17.