A-C, Lebanon boys hot entering holidays; Jones stars for Crest girls, Palmyra girls come up big

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Four takeaways from the latest in Lebanon County high school hoops:

Little Dutchmen making large strides: Some teams still stand unbeaten, others are off to surprise starts and even fewer lead section races.

But no team in Lebanon County has shown more improvement -- or matched its win total -- from a year ago outside of Annville-Cleona (3-4, 2-2 Lancaster-Lebanon).

Chris Bradford's bunch pieced together its first win streak in years Friday, topping Lebanon Catholic on the road, 49-44, two days after winning at Donegal. The Little Dutchmen have relied on a steady defense to date that's yielded an average of 47.6 points per game this season.

While limited offensively, they've kept opponents guessing with a strong balance that featured a half-dozen players with at least six points against the Beavers. Veterans Noah Myers, Matt Light and Julian DeReyes-Kapp lead the individual scorers and will have a chance to extend their team's hot streak on Tuesday at Pequea Valley.

Lebanon keeps rolling: Don't look now, but these Cedars are in mid-season form.

Arguably the hottest team in the L-L, Lebanon has now reeled off four wins in a row since its shocking tip-off tournament title defeat to Elco. The Cedars have edged opponents by double figures in each one of their victories, including three against Section One foes. The team's latest victim, Conestoga Valley, fell behind by as many as 25 Friday, while Lebanon saw 10 different players register in the scorebook.

The Cedars will next take on Ephrata and Solanco before a brief Christmas break, leaving the possibility open they enter 2016 with a commanding Section Two lead only eight games in.

Keeping up with Jones: Keeping up with, and staying in front of, Cedar Crest junior point guard Ariel Jones was easier said than done for the McCaskey girls basketball team on Friday night.

Jones not only tallied a team-high 24 points in the Falcons' 70-55 win, she flat-out controlled the game in the second half, expertly mixing aggressive drives to the hoop and pull-up jumpers in the lane with unselfish play that set up teammates for easy buckets and/or open jump shots.

In short, she played the point guard position about as well as it can be played at the high school level, particularly in the third quarter when Cedar Crest took control.

Just ask Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer,

"Ariel just took over. There wasn't anybody gonna stop her," Donmoyer said. "I'm telling you what, the Perry girl (McCaskey standout Briana Perry, who guarded Jones) is a hell of a player in her own right, and she couldn't stay in front of her."

And when you consider that Jones, who forms a devastating one-two punch with junior center Alyssa Austin, is far from Cedar Crest's only weapon future opponents of the Falcons could be in for a rough time.

Especially when the point guard performs like she did on Friday night.

Palmyra proud: They were gutted by graduation. They're largely inexperienced. They're not as quick or athletic top to bottom as they were in the recent past.

But as the Palmyra Cougar girls proved this week, they still know how to win.

Off to a growing pains-filled 1-4 start heading into the week, Palmyra righted itself with two gut-check wins - an overtime triumph over Mechanicsburg on Tuesday, and a one-point squeaker against Red Land on Friday night.

It really shouldn't be surprising, though. Since he took over a program in disarray 15 years ago, head coach Ron Berman's teams have always played hard, played together and played defense, no matter what.

They did again this week, and in doing so produced some more proud moments for a tremendously proud program.

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