After heartbreaker against Belle Vernon, Boyertown bounces back at PIAA Class AAA Duals

HERSHEY: Losing matches has been a somewhat uncommon experience for Boyertown in recent years.

But the ability to bounce back from those infrequent setbacks is something it has mastered.

Eerily reminiscent of the 2013-14 season, the Bears entered the PIAA Class AAA Duals tournament unbeaten and District 1’s champions. They opened by dominating their first-round opponent, only to lose in the quarterfinal round yet rebounded to win in the second round of consolations. But the comeback was halted by Parkland in a third-round consolation match.

Boyertown finds itself in the same situation this year, right down to drawing Parkland Saturday morning. But the happiest part of that series of coincidences occurred Friday evening, when it rolled over Scranton 45-21 after losing to Belle Vernon, 34-30, in the afternoon quarterfinals.

“It was the same exact thing last year,’ team captain Jordan Wood said while his teammates were engaged in a post-match workout on one of the Giant Center mats. “We’re still upset about last year.’

Boyertown (20-1) got dropped into wrestlebacks by a heartbreaking 34-30 loss to Belle Vernon. Heartbreaking because it was the Bears’ first loss of the year, and because it was a match they were in position to win.

Trailing the Leopards by a 28-6 count after eight bouts, Boyertown (19-1) reversed the deficit to a 30-28 lead by racking up 24 uninterrupted points between 195 and 113, only to watch the Leopards’ Zachary Hartman score a fall in the 120-pound finale.

“Belle Vernon was a heartbreaker,’ Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca said. “It was the second time we were in position to reach the semifinals. It left a bad taste in our mouths.’

A measure of cleansing came out of the Bears’ match with Scranton. Trailing the Knights 18-8 after six bouts, they won seven of the remaining eight to go into the Parkland rematch with a solid head of steam.

“It was a disappointment,’ Wood said. “We were looking to make the semifinals and have a shot at the finals.’

In both of Friday’s matches, Wood was part of a Boyertown resurgence in the upper and lower weights. He drew a forfeit at 220 as part of his team’s 24-point run that reversed BV’s 28-6 lead to a two-point advantage. And he scored a 49-second pin on Scranton’s Jack Malia to help fuel the Bears’ winning stretch run.

In the latter instance, however, Boyertown’s late run wasn’t headed at any point. With Tommy Killoran scoring a subsequent pin at 285, the locals saw only one Scranton decision at 106 dent their surge.

“We were trying to bounce back,’ said Garrett Mauger, who had the match-clinching win at 126. “It hurt to lose, especially like that. We wanted to bounce back, and keep the momentum going.’

Mauger’s 57-second drop of Jacob Burgette gave Boyertown a 39-21 lead with only one weight left to contest. That proved to be no contest, though, as Lucas Miller scored a second-period pin on Scranton’s Kevin Burgette to close out the affair.

“It mainly showed us anyone can beat anyone,’ Mauger said. “That we need to keep fighting and fighting.’

Mauger’s win helped take some of the sting out of the result with Belle Vernon. He was the victim of the Leopards’ last-match victory that lifted the District 7 runners-up from the two-point deficit.

“Garrett bounced back,’ Ventresca said. “It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.’

In the Belle Vernon match, Boyertown got successive decisions from Miller (126) and J.T. Cooley to start out. But the Leopards overturned the early lead with a run fueled in part by two pins and a major decision.

“It boiled down to bonus points,’ Ventresca said. “We couldn’t get some of the matchups we wanted, because we didn’t have the choice.’

Harvey’s arm-bar combination on Michael Semancik was good for the slap five seconds before the first period of their 195-pound bout ended. Wood and Jakob Campbell were awarded respective forfeits at 285 and 106, around Tommy Killoran’s gritty 3-1 decision of Michael Fine at 285.

That all pulled Boyertown to within one point (28-27) of BV prior to David Campbell’s duel with Jacob Dunlop at 113. Campbell controlled Dunlop from start to finish, building a 5-2 lead that ended a 7-3 win and two-point Bear lead.

But the euphoria lasted just under 3½ minutes … the amount of time Vernon’s Hartman needed to score a pin that ended Boyertown’s unbeaten run.

“It’s one of those things. You can’t give up pins to a team like Belle Vernon,’ Ventresca said.

With another go-round against Parkland on the agenda, Boyertown is determined to end the similarities with last year’s state duals experience right there.

“After last year, we’re itching to get back at them,’ Mauger said.

NOTES: Along with Wood and Harvey, Miller, Killoran and David Campbell were all two-bout winners for Boyertown. … In comparison to this year, the Bears’ first loss in the 2013-14 season came after they had won 23 straight.

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