Mike Green added jewelry to his workout wardrobe this week.
The Antietam boys’ basketball coach wore the gold medal he received as part of the Central Catholic District 3 Class 1A Championship team in 1988-89.
Green wanted to send a message to the Mounts, who finished second in the Class 2A playoffs last year and three years ago.
“I think he shows it to us to make us want more,” said senior Alejandro Montero. “I don’t know anyone else, but when I see him, I want one.”
Antietam (20-4) will seek his first district championship in 50 years when he meets familiar foe Lancaster Mennonite (15-9) in the 2A Finals Saturday at 12:45 p.m. at Hershey’s Giant Center.
The top-seeded Mounts and third-seeded Blazers met in the District Finals last year and in December – both on Mennonite’s home court – with the Blazers winning the 2021 title 80-67 and the 74-65 regular season encounter.
“I’m happy we’re playing them,” said senior Hector Tiburcio, “not only because we know them, but they’re the team that beat us last year for the championship. It’s kind of revenge tour.
Tiburcio is a four-year-old starter who scored 1,397 points, which ranks second in Antietam behind Fred Wittich’s 1,495. He scored 13 points as a freshman in a 92-57 loss to Steel-High, then 29 to Mennonite last year.
Antietam have won their Premier League title in seven years this season, but Tiburcio is yearning for a district championship that has eluded him and the Monts.
“It certainly means a lot to have this opportunity again,” he said. “I’ve been here before and I didn’t make it. I hope we can bring him home.
The Blazers present a tall order. Cam Hurst, a 6-2 junior, scored 32 points against Antietam in last year’s title game and was a Class 2A All-State pick. He’s averaging 18.6 points per game this season, including 27 in a 48-41 win over Delone Catholic in the semifinals.
Leading point guard Jaedon Mast, a transfer from New York, is averaging 11.4 points and 4.5 assists.
“They’re deep,” Green said. “They are athletic. They can shoot. They have size. They are going to be a very difficult task for us. We’re going to have to be on our “A” game. We can’t have a bad exit from anyone.
In December, the Monts fell behind the Mennonites at the start with a series of turnovers and could not recover.
“We have to take care of the ball,” Green said. “If we go back like we did against them in December, we won’t win. We also need to slow them down. If you can change the beat and control the tempo, you have a better chance of winning.
“We are going to run when we can run. When you’re on half-court, you have to work. We can’t shoot it.
Antietam is having its best season for many years. The Mounts won 11 straight during a streak before losing back-to-back games to Fleetwood and Wyomissing. They have won six of their last seven games, the only loss suffered by Berks Catholic in the Berks Conference quarterfinals.
Tiburcio 6-2 leads them with 16.6 ppg, followed by second Josh McKoy 6-4 (13.7) and junior 6-3 Jovan Hollis (8.3).
“Coming out strong in the first three minutes of the game and the second half will be key,” Tiburcio said. “If we don’t play our mark of defense, we won’t win.”
Tiburcio said he often stopped and stared at the trophy case outside the Antietam gymnasium. He looks in particular to the 1972 District Championship trophy and yearns to win one and make history.
He and Montero are the only Mounts to have played at the Giant Center, even though it was only a few minutes for Montero in the 2019 title game.
“I’m honored to have this opportunity,” Montero said. “We mean it badly, I can tell you that. We already have two silver medals. We don’t want any other. Winning the gold medal would be nice. This is the third time. We have to win.
Mounts’ District 3 Title Games
2021: Lancaster Mennonite 80, Antietam 67
2019: Steel-High 92, Antietam 57
1994: Scotland 46, Antietam 43
1972: Mount Penn 64, New Oxford 44
1971: Mount Penn 60, Upper Dauphin 55
1970: Mount Penn 56, New Oxford 55
1968: Mount Penn 72, New Oxford 57
1954: Mount Penn 62, Camp Hill 45
1942: Gettysburg 37, Mount Penn 17