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Highlights from Annville-Cleona's 57-48 win over Lancaster County Christian Thursday in the A-C High School Holiday Tournament Championship. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com

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ANNVILLE – If any team can say it suffered its share of adversity less than 10 games into a season it’s the Annville-Cleona boys.

From having to fight for every win during its 4-0 start, to having two tough games in a row where turnovers were an issue, to having other guys step up when key pieces get into early foul trouble in its last game.

The latest lesson in this young season – making sure you’re ready to play any opponent no matter its situation.

After a slow opening quarter, the Dutchmen finally got their act together and took over in a 57-48 victory Thursday, claiming their own holiday tournament title. Noah Myers led the Dutchmen with a team-high 15 points.

A-C found itself down 16-8 after the first after committing seven turnovers, including five in the same amount of possessions, along with LCC starting red hot, shooting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

But the Dutchmen woke up in the second, outscoring the Lions 17-10, pulling within one at the half, and followed that by forcing nine LCC turnovers in the third quarter (22 for the game) to begin pulling away.

“That’s a testament to the resolve in short term memory you have to have in sports,” A-C coach Chris Bradford said. “We weren’t ready from the tip, and it took a couple of timeouts and pushing buttons of some guys, but we responded. We’ve been in a similar hole before and not responded. As a coach to see us dig down and get ourselves out of that, it was good to see.”

Ryan Mathews was also a big part of the Dutchmen digging out of that early hole, finishing with 13 points, and coming up with some scrappy plays defensively.

Mathews said, “They gave me good looks and I took them. We got that team win, so I’m proud of that.”

Bradford added, “He was a prototypical spark plug. The kid has a shot and worked tirelessly on it in the offseason, putting more time in the gym than me probably. He’s been hitting it in spurts so far, and to see him stepping in and hit those shots and picking us up personally was good to see.”

Now every year there always seems to be that one game where a team may underestimate its opponent, whether its by record, or even classification, as the Dutchmen faced in the Class 1A Lions.

Though its play didn’t show it early, A-C knew there was nothing to sneeze at with LCC (4-4, 1-0), having been a PIAA qualifier a season ago, with most of its key pieces returning.

“I told them before the game nothing will ever be given to you," Bradford said. "No one’s going to lay down, I don’t care if they’re Class 1A or 6A. No team’s going to step into a gym with you and not give their best shot. If you go in there acting like you’re owed something, that’s when you get in a hole. But we took it and responded the way you want to see.”

And now it’s another win to build off of for the Dutchmen, having already matched last season’s win total (6-2, 1-2) eight games into the season.

But if you think anyone with a red and white uniform on is elated by that, you might want to think again – because this team thinks much more highly of itself.

“6-2 is 6-2, that’s great. But if we were happy with that we could be stuck with six wins,” Bradford said.  “We have expectations to win night in and night out, regardless of the opponent. We’ve played some good teams, and our section’s pretty solid, which is an understatement. We can be happy with it, but we’ll enjoy it until midnight. Then we’re thinking Elco.”

Moving forward however, it’s still a game-by-game approach.

“We’re not looking at our record. We’re thinking 0-0 every single game.”

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