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When Mechanicsburg identifies reasons for how it’s eight-point third quarter turned into a 61-44 loss to Northeastern in the PIAA District 3 5A championship game Friday night at Hershey’s Giant Center, the Wildcats need to look no further than Northeastern’s Fred Mulbah, Austin Greene and Brandon Coleman.
These Bobcats took matters into their own hands, quite literally, and fueled a sudden and decisive rally over the final six minutes.
With their array of athletic abilities—quick hands, speed down the court and jumping, Mulbah, Greene and Coleman forced Mechanicsburg into turnover after turnover, grabbed rebounds that Mechanicsburg’s 6-5 center Cade Alioth had to himself in the first three quarters, and combined for 25 of the final 31 points scored by Northeastern.
Mulbah scored a team-high 27 points, 15 coming over the last 10 minutes of the game.
Austin Greene scored half of his 10 points during the rally.
Brandon Coleman got in on the comeback when he scored five of his eight points. His coast-to-coast dribble after a Mechanicsburg turnover led to a fantastic leap through the lane that he finished off with a thunderous dunk, giving the Bobcats a 44-40 lead.
Mechanicsburg led at halftime 25-20 and built the lead to 33-25 midway through the third quarter.
With a three-inch height advantage over any of Northeastern’s players, Alioth was dominating inside to that point and had the Bobcats in foul trouble trying to stop him.
He scored the Wildcats’ first 12 points and upped his total to 21 points with a layup that gave his team the eight-point third quarter lead.
Alioth finished with 27 points.
When Mulbah, Greene and Coleman got the wakeup call, it didn’t help Mechanicsburg’s effort to steady the ship when its veteran point guard Kyle Scheib fouled out with 5:02 left in the game.
Northeastern won its first-ever basketball district championship and will face Wissahickon, the seventh-place team from Distict 1 in its PIAA state tournament opener next weekend.
Mechanicsburg opens the state tournament against Springfield Delaware County, the sixth-place team from District 1.