LEBANON >> No matter the level and regardless of the sport, there are certain afforded luxuries for the top seed in large postseason tournaments. Among them are a favorable first-round matchup, a friendly location for said matchup and, as was the case Wednesday night for Cedar Crest (24-2), the chance to use an entire first half as a personal wake-up call.
Down by one point at intermission, the No. 1 Falcons reeled off a 14-0 run in the third quarter that put them ahead for good in a 52-38 opening-round victory against No. 17 Spring Grove in the District 3 Class AAAA boys' basketball tournament.
Senior Andrew Eberhart poured in 17 points, surpassing the 16 posted by Rockets sophomore Eli Brooks. Spring Grove (15-10) was held to just four points in the critical third, a product, Cedar Crest coach Tom Smith said, of cranked-up intensity.
"I think our defensive intensity in the first half was just lacking," Smith said. "We picked up the tempo on defense, which meant transitions to offense for us. And we shared the ball."
Five Falcons scored in the minutes following halftime, including Evan Horn, who returned from foul trouble to bang a right-wing 3-pointer for a 33-24 lead. Cedar Crest senior Nick Miller then added a layup before Spring Grove's Darin Gordon ended a scoreless stretch of nearly six minutes with a pair of free throws.
Gordon was the only Rocket to score in the 10 minutes after the break outside of Brooks.
"The game got a lot more physical, and they're the No. 1 seed for a reason," Rockets coach James Brooks said. We couldn't respond back to that. We just couldn't manufacture points like we normally do ... We needed the role players to step up a little bit more. Sometimes when you have it early, you don't always have it all the way through the game."
Cedar Crest will meet Harrisburg in the quarterfinals Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip-off at Giant Center.
"When you think about Harrisburg, you start with the (Jahaad) Proctor kid, who is obviously a Division-I commit (to) Holy Cross and can absolutely just fill it up," Smith said. "They always have good guard play and are typically physical inside. It should be a great challenge for us."
Spring Grove (38)
Flaherty 2 0-0 5, Eli Brooks 5 4-4 16, Darin Gordon 3 5-6 11, Wierman 2 0-0 4, Sager 1 0-0 2.
Totals — 13 9-10 38
Cedar Crest (52)
Bucher 3 2-4 9, Frost 2 0-0 4, Miller 3 1-2 7, Garloff 2 4-4 9, Horn 1 1-2 4, Eberhart 7 3-4 17.
Totals — 19 11-16 52
Spring Grove1111412—38Cedar Crest1471615—52
3-point goals — CC 3 (Bucher, Garloff, Horn), SG 3 (Brooks 2, Flaherty).