In the first three games of the post-Evan Horn era, it’s been a collective effort offensively for the Cedar Crest Falcons.
But there is only one thing to do to replace what Horn did for this Falcons team – find a way to grow up a little bit more.
That was the message from coach Tom Smith heading into Friday’s rematch with McCaskey from last season’s Lancaster-Lebanon League Championship.
And Smith’s players not only weren’t afraid of that challenge – they were hungry for it.
Thanks to an amazing, game-tying shot by Cole Laney in the waning seconds of regulation, and key free throws down the stretch in overtime, Cedar Crest earned sweet revenge of McCaskey with a 72-66 overtime win in the L-L opener at Cedar Crest High School.
With his team down three, Laney nailed a 3 from the corner with 10.2 seconds remaining, plus the foul, on a perfect pass from Logan Horn.
Laney said, “I know I hadn’t been hitting shots previously, but the coaches told me to keep my confidence, so I know I was going to keep shooting. I know I was going to hit it if the ball came to me and I just went with it.”
Laney missed the free throw however, giving the Red Tornado a chance, but William Joseph missed two put back attempts to force overtime.
Free throw shooting played a massive role in overtime, which Cedar Crest took full advantage of, going 10-for-13.
Blake Thomson was 5-for-6 himself to help close out the win – including hitting his final one with the Cedar Crest student section singing, “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s definitely one of the best birthday presents I’ve had,” Thomson said. “Beating McCaskey on my birthday with the student section cheering for me...there’s nothing better than that. It’s a great school, great attitude from everyone, it was fun.”
With Laney having hit what’s been perhaps the biggest shot of Cedar Crest’s young season, one would start to think he might be the answer to the “go-to guy” mystery – but the team still thinks overall depth remains the key.
Laney said, “Honestly, this year I think it’s a lot different than what people think. Evan was everything we needed and I think we can replace that with three or two guys a night.”
Cedar Crest Coach Tom Smith said, “That shot might be the biggest one of the night to extend the game. It was just incredible. He may be it. Tonight was his night. I think our free throw shooting down the stretch from all the guys made plays too. We put the ball in Logan Horn’s hands…he was the one who made the pass to Cole to make the big shot. Down the line, if we got to draw a play up, will it be Cole? We’ll see. We’ll see who’s hot at the end of the night. But tonight, Cole made the big shot for us, and I couldn’t be happier for the kid. He works hard and deserves it.”
Not only did someone find a way to step up in a big spot of the game, but the Falcons also were much better in the battle on the glass, edging the Red Tornado 36-33 – although they were still edged in offensive rebounding, 11-8.
“It was one of the main focuses. I don’t think we did our best, but we still made it through the night. We’ll definitely study the film and if we box out better, next time we get them I think it’ll be an easier game for us.”
But in the midst of all the hoopla over the monster win and knowing they still have to improve in some areas, Smith wants his team to realize and celebrate the bigger picture as well.
“This game is a game of runs, and a lesser team could’ve folded many times,” Smith said. “That’s what we talked about, and they didn’t. They kept fighting. Things didn’t go our way the whole time and I think they grew up and competed every possession until the end.”