State College’s Drew Friberg lit up the scoreboard, per usual — but the Mid Penn semifinals weren’t a one-man show Tuesday night.
Friberg, aided by his brother Tommy, guard Keaton Ellis, and senior Tommy Sekunda, ousted Trinity in a 71-63 win at Central Dauphin High School.
Drew Friberg left Little Lion fans, and a few Trinity supporters, in shock and awe, recording 33 points and 11 rebounds in a signature performance. The 6-foot-5 go-to scorer had 22 at halftime alone and, with the help of his teammates, closed out the Shamrocks late at the free-throw line.
After handing Trinity (20-3) its first loss in nine games, State College (18-4) faces Mechanicsburg on 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the Mid Penn title. The Wildcats defeated Greencastle-Antrim 66-61 on Tuesday.
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“It was a great game,” State College coach Joe Walker said of the win. “I’m sure the fans were glad they came out.”
Despite the eight-point margin of victory, it was a closer contest than the final score indicated.
State College led by two with 1:18 to go in regulation when Ellis, a sophomore who was scoreless at the time, was fouled.
The 5-foot-11 ballhandler had an opportunity to put his squad up by four, with the bonus in effect.
“I just have to be composed,” Ellis said. “I’ve had a lot of confidence at the free-throw line, and it’s been building. When I get the ball and I know they’re going to foul me, I just got to hit ’em.”
Ellis sank both, extending the Little Lions’ lead to 63-59.
At that point, even with Trinity sharpshooters Austin Gilbertson (24 points) and Timmy Edwards (19 points) on the floor, Walker couldn’t help but feel self-assured.
“We felt confident when we were up four with a minute left,” the coach said.
Seconds later, Sekunda, who finished with 13 points for the Little Lions, popped up on defense. The forward stole a cross-court Trinity pass and tossed it ahead to Tommy Friberg, who was fouled and sent to the line.
The younger Friberg nailed the first and second to give State College a six-point advantage with 47 seconds to play.
“When you see your teammates step up and hit two, you’re going to do it, too,” Walker added.
Success at the free-throw line continued, as Ellis and the Fribergs closed State College’s scoring with eight consecutive shots made from the charity stripe.
For the game, the Little Lions hit 23 of 28 free throws.
Trinity coach Larry Kostelac Jr. was uneasy about how his side wasted possessions and let the lead balloon late.
“We were right there, and I thought we had a chance to win the game,” Kostelac Jr. said. “We let it get away from us at the end.”
The Shamrocks locked in on Drew Friberg, too, limiting the number of touches he had in the fourth quarter.
But the first half was a different story altogether.
Bolstered by four 3-pointers, Drew Friberg hit seven field goals. Whether it was battling on the block or draining pull-up treys, the senior was feeling it, in what he admitted was his best-ever half of basketball.
Walker was rather impressed.
“He gets that look in his eye,” State College’s coach said. “He was going to do everything in his power to make sure we didn’t lose tonight.”
Now, the Little Lions turn their sights to Mechanicsburg, eyeing their first-ever Mid Penn title.
Walker hopes to see a similar effort from Friberg and his teammates on Thursday.