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A 4-0 start.

Anyone could name a list of teams who could achieve that – but Annville-Cleona definitely wasn’t on that list.

Hence why the Dutchmen have been described as the surprise team in this young season.

But of course, this was something A-C coach Chris Bradford wasn’t surprised about one bit.

Bradford said, “The difference in where our schedule challenges lie was never going to be outside the section. The section’s a beast, as it usually is. So we knew we had to start fast, and it’s good we did. We could hang our heads on that, but we’re going to use that as if there was a time to hit that, it would be now when we have an extra bit of prep time without a game for a week. We can take that and make corrections, learn from it, and challenge the guys.”

Bradford also gave a ton of credit to his senior leadership.

Bradford said, “We have three seniors that have been through the downs and they weren’t going to let some of the younger guys get down when we had patches of adversity. It wasn’t all glory. There was plenty of stuff to improve upon. We were down 20 in one of those games. We lean on each other and rely on the leadership. Then you start to get a buy in from some of those guys that haven’t tasted the varsity level or tasted success at this level before.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this episode with the Dutchmen, after the football team won a share of the section title - its first in 12 years - when no one expected it.

Dutchmen junior big man Noah Myers of course was a pretty significant member, and says bringing that mentality to the basketball court is no different.

Myers said, “For football the mentality was all year we were always going to be faster and stronger. As long as we give 100 percent effort, Coach (Matt) Gingrich pushed us to that limit, knowing we could beat any team. So just that confidence we can bring over from football really helps everyone out and myself.”

Since then however, things haven’t gone as smoothly, as A-C has lost two in a row to Columbia and then suffered a 27-point loss to powerhouse Lancaster Catholic.

Bradford said, “We played a torturous game at Columbia with 25 turnovers and numerous second chances. For as bad as we played, to continue to battle back within striking distance is huge, and we get play them again. We just weren’t ready for Lancaster Catholic. As coaches, we’re going to do what we have to do to make sure we’re ready next time.”

The next game action comes Wednesday as the Dutchmen welcome Lancaster County Christian School (3-3, 1-0), Halifax (2-3, 1-2), and Conrad Weiser (2-3, 0-0) to Annville for a two-day holiday tournament.

To achieve any success in their home tournament, Myers, who leads the team in scoring with 15 points per game, says he and his teammates can’t be selfish.

Myers said, “These last two games we’ve been a team, but we’ve had glimpses of ‘me’ moments at times. If we bring that team mentality back, we can accomplish anything in this tournament.”

First up for A-C is Conrad Weiser Wednesday at 5 p.m. Bradford says it won’t be an easy task.

“They’re an athletic, long team,” Bradford said. “I think they can certainly bring it defensively. I think they’re a lot like us, where offensively, they’re still trying to find some kind of identity. I think we match up well with them and they’ll be a good test being a higher classification than us.”

If the Dutchmen win, they’ll play in the tournament championship Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against the winner between LCCS and Halifax, with the losers of both games playing in the consolation game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

LCCS and Halifax tip-off the tourney at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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