HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) – Constitution used a strong start in the fourth quarter to open up some breathing room then held on for dear life down the stretch Saturday afternoon against Seton-LaSalle.
Constitution, from the Philadelphia Public League watched a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead evaporate down the stretch before finally holding off the Catholic school from suburban Pittsburgh 61-59 in the PIAA Class AA boys’ basketball championship game at Giant Center.
This is the second state basketball title for Constitution (28-5). In 2012 the Rebels won the PIAA Class A championship.
The duo of Kimar Williams and Ahmad Gilbert combined to score 33 points for Constitution. Gilbert led the duo with 19 and also hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
Constitution used an 11-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to turn a 43-43 deadlock after three quarters into a 54-45 cushion with 5:00 remaining.
Seton LaSalle (29-2), led by 19 points and 11 boards from Levi Masua, fought back and had two attempts to take the lead in the final 35 seconds.
Masua had a chance to hit a three-point shot just before time expired, but his shot bounced off the back of the rim to preserve the victory for Constitution.
“I stressed to my guys all week that guy is good inside, but he can also shoot,” said Constitution coach Robert Moore, whose club won despite making only 3 of 8 free throws in the final 2:27. “It was a game changing play. It hit the back of the iron and came out. If it goes in, their kids are celebrating.”
Neither team led by more than four points until Constitution scored 11 of the first 13 points in the fourth quarter led by six from Williams.
“We sort or thrived in chaos all season, and this was no different,” Moore said. “Our guys got after it, played hard for 90 feet and were rewarded.”