Wagons West: Lancaster Mennonite hitting the trail to meet Chartiers Valley
Lancaster Mennonite (21-7) is the last remaining L-L team in the PIAA basketball playoffs and will once again have a long bus ride ahead of them. After traveling to Johnstown last Friday, the Blazers were able to pull out a 70-44 win over Somerset to advance to the second round. On Tuesday, Lancaster Mennonite will head west again; this time 150 miles to Bedford High School where awaiting them will be District Seven runner-up, Chartiers Valley (25-2) at 7pm.
The Blazers were driven by a big second quarter last Friday in which they outscored Somerset, 21-9. Lancaster Mennonite’s ability to spread the points around was also well-represented as Zach Lehman led the Blazers with 19 points but Darrius Bair and Tyler Constein were right behind him with 12 and 10. Six Blazers players scored seven points or more.
Typically, the Blazers aren’t the team with the height advantage but heading into Tuesday’s game, they may have a slight edge. Almost all of Chartiers Valley’s players hover around the 5’11-6’1 range which will give 6’3 Lehman an advantage inside. This could cause problems however, as Lancaster Mennonite does like to play small and run the court like a track meet and the Colts appear to have the right horses to run.
Chartiers Valley defeated Erie Strong Vincent, 68-54 in their first round playoff matchup. The Colts are also a team that can go on runs as they took a 7-0 run into the fourth quarter when the game was still up for grabs. Senior Jerrad Tuite scored 21 points for the Colts; 13 of which came in the fourth quarter. Tuite averages 17 points per game but won’t be the only headache for the Blazers on Tuesday. 6’0 junior guard Matty McConnell leads the team with 21 points per game and completes a dangerous backcourt that can create as well as score with both McConnell and Tuite averaging about 4 assists each per game. McConnell and Tuite have also combined for 121 three-pointers this season (McConnell with 69 and Tuite with 52).
For the Blazers to be successful, it could come down to rebounding. There’s no doubt that Chartiers Valley is going to shoot and shoot…and then shoot some more. If Lancaster Mennonite can limit the Colts to one-and-done possessions, they have enough athleticism and talent to be in it down the stretch.
However, the Blazers can’t disappear for a quarter and hope to still have a chance late in the game. While there’s little doubt that Lancaster Mennonite will have their foot on the gas for all four quarters, they can’t afford to have any stretches of offensive stagnancy.
One thing is for sure, if the Blazers can grind out another win, that two hour and twenty minute bus ride back to Lancaster won’t feel so long.