The bull's eye grows a little bigger after each victory. The Cedar Crest boys' basketball team wouldn't have it any other way.
Red-hot Cedar Crest secured its sixth straight win Thursday night, holding off Conrad Weiser 58-53 in the first round of the Falcons' annual Holiday Tournament in South Lebanon.
Junior Andrew Eberhart netted a career-high 20 points, connecting on 10 field goals, including a pair of slam dunks. The 6-foot-6 forward dropped a dozen after halftime, helping defuse a late rally by the Scouts.
Andrew Eudy, Josh Bucher and Dominic Garloff also added eight apiece for the well-balanced Falcons, who received points from nine different players. Senior Andy Orr, a 6-foot-8 center, scored a game-high 26 points to lead Conrad Weiser.
"We made enough plays down the stretch to hold on for the win," Crest head coach Tom Smith said. "Coach (Mike) Brown had his kids ready to play, and they made some big shots right when we were ready to stretch it a little bit. It was a good test for us. We need to play four quarters."
The Falcons (8-1 overall) led by as many as 15 in the first half but never could land the knockout blow. Conrad Weiser (5-2) cut the deficit to four in the fourth, only to have the hosts pull away in the final three minutes.
"One of the things about this year is that people are starting to realize we're pretty good," added Smith. "We're getting everyone's best shot, which these guys embrace. They like that, and we get to do it again (tonight) against a good Carlisle team."
Crest's victory sets up Friday night's title tilt at 7:30 against Carlisle (6-2). The Thundering Herd handled Hershey 75-67 in the first portion of Thursday's doubleheader. Conrad Weiser and Hershey (4-5) tip off in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
"From what I watched, (Carlisle) is a very athletic team," Eberhart said. "They like to run, and they have some good shooters. We just got to stop their athleticism, box out, rebound, run the ball and try to get easy buckets on them."
The Falcons appeared to be coasting early Thursday, building a 13-5 lead after one quarter. Eberhart and Eudy owned the boards, combining for five rebounds and six points in the first three possessions.
Crest continued to surge ahead in the second, earning its largest lead of the night, 20-5, with 6:35 left before the break. The Scouts closed the half on a 10-3 run to trim the lead to 27-20.
The visitors continued to chip away at the lead in the third, making it a one-point game midway through the quarter. Orr tipped in an offensive rebound and followed with a driving layup at 4:56 to cut Crest's advantage to 29-28.
Eberhart stopped the run with back-to-back buckets, and scores by Seth Daubert, Garloff and Nick Miller put the Falcons on top 41-32 after three.
Orr continued to keep Conrad Weiser in striking distance in the fourth.
"He definitely plays within himself. You can tell he's a smart kid, he's talented and moves well for a big kid," Smith said of the Scouts' oversized center. "I give credit to Andrew Eudy. Every time out, I kept telling him, 'You're playing him tough. Just keep doing what you're doing. He's making tough shots.' He earned every basket today."
Orr knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth and chipped in 10 points in the final frame. Crest, however, drained 6-of-9 free throws to fend off the Scouts.
"We work hard all the time in practice," added Eberhart. "We have a lot of good players, so we're very deep and we're always busting each other's humps at practice. It's awesome, and now we're 8-1."
Evan Horn (4), Miller (4), Zach Gristick (3), Daubert (2) and Jimmy Kern (1) also scored for the Falcons. Crest's bench contributed 16 points.
"We've been getting great bench play all year. We've stretched leads with our bench," explained Smith. "We tell our kids to give us three great minutes at a time. If they want to get back in, they better be great.
"Everyone has accepted it. I don't know if they're all happy with it, but they've accepted it. We told them up front that this is what our expectations are. "¦ The thing that is nice is they earn their minutes at practice. Then, when we get to games, at times they can be easy."