GREENCASTLE - Sometimes losing can help a team grow more than anything else.
Heading into Tuesday night, the Greencastle-Antrim girls basketball team had dropped five of its previous six games.
Facing that and a Boiling Springs team which had beaten them 35-32 earlier in the season, the Blue Devils matured in front of the eyes of their home crowd in a 47-41 Mid Penn Colonial Division girls basketball victory.
After letting a 28-16 halftime advantage dissolve, leaving the Bubblers ahead 39-38 with 4:55 left to play, it appeared Greencastle had let Boiling Springs put the finishing touches on a major comeback.
Instead, the Blue Devils (7-9, 5-4 MPC) weathered all of Boiling Springs' best shots, finishing the final 2:30 on a 7-0 run.
"We needed one - we've been close in a lot of games and fell behind to better teams," said Greencastle coach Mike Rhine. "We've got six more (games) to go, so we're going to try and get six more (wins)."
Perhaps no player did more growing up than G-A's freshman point guard, Hannah Crist.
After not being able to restrain her naturally aggressive play in the second and third quarters - with her team ahead - that led to turnovers and a seat on the bench, Crist hit two key baskets and a set of free throws that ultimately sealed the Blue Devil win.
"I think it's big," said Rhine of Crist's game. "Hannah certainly looked like she took a big step to me."
Facing a 38-27 deficit early in the fourth quarter, the Bubblers stormed into a 12-0 run.
Mikayla Snyder - who led Boiling Springs (11-5, 7-2 MPC) with 19 points - nailed a jump shot and fast break layup, both on assists from Megan Bobb. Cecile Crowley's steal and fastbreak layup - cutting the lead to five points - forced Rhine to call for time.
But the Bubblers didn't cool off.
After point guard Mary Spisak drained a 3-pointer on the next possession, Bobb corralled a steal before the Blue Devils could move the ball down the court - hitting a layup and free throw to complete a three-point play and give the Bubblers a 39-38 lead.
Following another Greencastle timeout, Crist rolled off a screen and nailed a mid-range jumper to take back the lead.
Snyder responded for Boiling Springs at the other end with another layup off of Bobb's helper, but Crist had another answer, nailing a nearly identical jumper that put the Blue Devils on top for good.
"We worked endlessly on coming off of that ball screen and reading and reacting," Rhine said. "She did it perfectly tonight. She wants to be so good, and it's fun to watch and be a part of."
Even with the Bubblers still hanging around at 44-41 with 21.2 seconds to go, the freshman swished two free throws to ice things for good.
"It was nerve wracking hitting those foul shots, but afterwards it was great," Crist said, "especially being young and knowing that (our team) still has years to come."
Boiling Springs coach Kyle Watkins said, "Hannah Crist is going to be a problem for years, because she can get in the painted area and she's got long arms. She can reach out around kids and she's a good passer. And Katie (Gelsinger) moves well without the ball - if she catches it and you're on her back, she's going to score. They're a tough duo."
Gelsinger, who led Greencastle with 19 points, scored 14 in the first half, with all nine of her field goals coming off of assists.
"I knew I had to hustle to get down the court and hold up my part on the team, and the girls did amazing together," said Gelsinger, who recieved helpers from four different teammates.
On paper, Chloe Hoover - the Blue Devil's leader and top scorer - had a pedestrian night with nine points. That was largely in part to Boiling Springs' focus to take her out of the offense.
That forced the rest of the Greencastle roster to respond, which it did.
"It was really nice that we didn't have to rely on Chloe," Rhine said. "They really made an effort to take her out of the game, which I think opened up Katie in the first half."
The Blue Devils will be looking for more progress, hoping to close out their final six games in the win column.
Gelsinger said, "Hopefully we'll keep winning and progressing as a team."
Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boiling Springs 41
Shannon Piccolo 0 3-4 3, Cecile Crowley 3 0-1 6, Mary Spisak 1 0-1 3, Mikayla Snyder 7 5-7 19, Taylor Malinish 0 1-2 1, Casie Hostetter 2 0-0 4, Megan Bobb 2 1-2 5. Totals 15 10-17 41.
Chloe Hoover 4 0-0 9, Katie Gelsinger 9 1-2 19, Jane Herman 0 0-0 0, Hannah Crist 3 3-4 9, Meghan Hirneisen 3 2-2 8, Ashlynn Schaeffer 0 2-2 2, Lauren Powers 0 0-0 0, Shelby Stouffer 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 8-10 47.
Boiling Springs 7 9 9 16 - 41
Greencastle 8 20 6 13 - 47
3-point shots - BS 1 (Spisak); GA 1 (Hoover). Shooting - GA 19-42 (45.2%). Rebounds - GA 29 (Hoover, Gelsinger 6). Assists - GA 13 (Herman 4). Steals - GA 8. Turnovers - GA 15. Fouled out - Herman.
Next game: Friday, at Shippensburg, 7:30.