HERSHEY - Allentown Central Catholic held off a furious rally to edge Hickory, 41-40, and win the PIAA state Class 4A championship Thursday at the Giant Center.
The Vikings (20-4) also won state titles in 1984 and ‘86, and last reached the final in 2001.
It was the first dance on the big stage for Hickory, the District 10 champ from Hermitage. It looked that way early, as the Hornets made just three of 21 first-half shots.
Allentown CC played through junior center Liam Joyce, who scored his 16th point early in the third quarter to give his team a 31-12 lead.
Joyce picked up his third foul soon after that, and everything changed.
Hickory began finding some answers offensively, pressuring the Vikings and mucking the game up a bit.
Connor Evans, who had 10 points and 16 rebounds for the Hornets, rolled inside to score and make it 39-38 with 2:03 left. A possession later he found teammate Joey Fazzone on a clever feed, and Hickory had the lead with 1:26 left.
The Vikings then embarked on a long, wooly possession that ended up with point guard Tyson Thomas scoringat the rim with :13.4 left.
Hickory called time, got a decent look at a three, missed, but Fazzone grabbed the rebound, and another time out, with five ticks remaining.
The call was for Evans, who wheeled in the lane, well-defended, and got off a one-hander that bounced away.
Central Catholic got 18 points and nine boards from Joyce. Remarkably, no other Viking scored more than five.
Class A - Pottsville Nativity 51, Berlin Brothersvalley 46 (overtime): Pottsville Nativity overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to edge Berlin Brothersvalley in overtime, 51-47, to win the PIAA Class A state boys’ basketball championship Thursday at the Giant Center.
It was the first boys’ state title for Nativity (24-4), a longtime state power in girls’ basketball.
Berlin (27-2) seemed to take control with a 20-7 second quarter, but the Mountaineers made just one of four of 20 shots from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Keegan Hertz, a 6-6 senior being courted by local colleges, led the Hilltoppers with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Julius Walborn added 10.
Berlin got 22 points and 11 rebounds from point guard Elijah Sechler. Freshman guard Pace Prosser scored 15, including four 3-pointers.
Nativity eliminated Lancaster’s La Academia Charter, 73-64 in overtime in the state semifinals Monday.