The gum-flapping at the end may have dulled a tiny bit of its luster, but Friday night's near-packed crowd at Garden Spot High School was still treated to an intense and dramatic contest between Milton Hershey and Archbishop Carroll in the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs.
In the end, the District 3 Spartans, who likely had the support of 85 percent of the onlookers, prevailed, 73-66, and advanced to Monday's semifinal against District 7's Mars.
Carroll seized control early, but senior point guard Don'yae Baylor-Carroll and the Spartans overtook the Patriots late, marking the second time in as many years that Carroll's season ended in the quarterfinals at Garden Spot.
"I've been coaching for 16 or 17 years, and I've come across a number of different situations," said Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk. "But I still haven't gotten the best solution as to how to walk into that locker room when you lose and it's the final time you're going to see those seniors and be with this team."
Baylor-Carroll was one of the main reasons Carroll faltered late.
The sub-6-footer scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including the three-pointer that gave the Spartans their first lead with about 7 minutes, 30 seconds left.
He followed that with a step-back jumper nearly 30 seconds later that sent the crowd into hysterics.
"We've played against a lot of really good basketball players," Romanczuk said, "Don'yae Baylor-Carroll is right up there with all of them."
Baylor-Carroll finished 8 of 15 from the field, 4 of 7 from behind the 3-point line and 3 of 4 from the foul line.
He also added 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Fellow senior Pedro Rodriguez added 21 points and 4 rebounds.
His counterpart, Carroll sophomore AJ Hoggard, finished 19 points (6 of 14), 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
He also sparked a Carroll spurt that saw them retake the lead after Baylor-Carroll put Milton Hershey ahead by 5.
Unfortunately for Carroll, senior guard Justin Anderson rolled his right ankle in the third quarter and was on the bench for much of the fourth.
Junior forward Luke House, at 6-foot-4, had the unenviable task of guarding Baylor-Carroll, who danced with the ball like a water bug before making plays.
House finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Devon Ferrero added 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Keyon Butler added 6 points and 9 rebounds.
The Patriots had started the game with a 15-4 run before the Spartans narrowed the gap to, 15-12, to start the second period.
By halftime, Carroll regained a modicum of control at 39-33.
A late Hoggard triple got the Patriots to within, 68-65, with 37 seconds left, but a long pass to Josh Parra (12 points off the bench) resulted in an easy layup for Hershey.
Baylor-Carroll put the finishing touches on the evening with a steal and layup after which the final horned blared.
As the Spartans celebrated the victory, Carroll's players appeared to await the customary handshake line when the celebrating Milton Hershey forward Treyvon Ferguson approached Ferrero, a senior whose career at Carroll had just ended.
Ferrero pushed Ferguson backward, which was followed by some jaw-jacking by both sides before the Spartans left the court with some of the them waving goodbye.
Milton Hershey 12 21 13 27 — 73
Archbishop Carroll 15 24 7 19 — 65
MH: Don'yae Baylor-Carroll 23, Pedro Rodriguez 21, Josh Parra 11, Jaiden Young 7, Naeem Cross 5, Carrington Smith 2, Treyvon Ferguson 4.