Lebanon, Elco to meet for tip-off title
The Raiders and Cedars easily cleared tournament semifinal hurdles Friday in their respective season openers
Among his many renowned sayings, the late, legendary John Wooden offered one particular piece of advice that ought to stick with the Lebanon boys basketball team this season.
Be quick, don't hurry.
For if the speedy Cedars can manage to pass up the temptation to hurry, they should place themselves in a positive for success and their opponents in a forest of trouble. Friday night's season opener offered no better example.
Following a hasty opening half, Lebanon rolled to a 69-56 victory over Lancaster Mennonite in the annual Lebanon tip-off tournament, setting up a title tilt with Elco on Saturday night. The Raiders, 78-33 victors against Muhlenberg, lost to the Cedars a year ago in the same championship game. Since that meeting, Lebanon (1-0) has lost its leading scorer, but returned a host of athletic reinforcements, who often had the Blazers caught in a track meet Friday.
Allen Escoto (15 points) was often at the head or heart of most those races, spurring the Cedars on through forced turnovers and offensive rebounds.
"He got us a lot of second-chance points," Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said. "I'm proud of the way he came through for us tonight."
Plagued by their own miscues early, the Cedars failed to grow an initial 8-2 lead into an advantage of more than two or three possessions. The Blazers (0-1) then cut their deficit to four with minutes remaining in the half, until steals by Logan Blouch and Matty Lopez led to buckets and eventually a 30-22 halftime edge.
A 25-point outburst in the third quarter then cured almost all of Lebanon's woes, as the home team stretched its lead to as many as 19.
"I think we were wearing on them a little bit. I think our constant pressure was starting to get to them," Speraw said. "But that's a blessing we've had with a lot of depth. We can keep rolling out another two or three guys and we don't lose everything."
Felix Kortright-Roman's 18 points were a team best among the 10 Cedars that scored. Camryn Shaak chipped in with 11.
Elco 78, Muhlenberg 33
The Raiders (1-0) left little mystery as to how their season's beginning would end, firing out on a searing start against an overmatched Muhls squad. Senior Caleb Buchmoyer (22 points) propelled Elco to a 26-2 edge after just the first quarter, pouring in a dozen points built on a trio of treys. Mason Bossert (16 points) and Nathan Beamer each supplied stifling defense, scoring off consecutive Muhlenberg inbounds to close the opening stanza. Elco continued to feast on turnovers through the second quarter and ultimately surrendered only one field goal before the break.
En route to scoring 22 on the night, senior Colton Lawrence sprinkled in 11 first-half points and notched 1,000 for his career on the first bucket after intermission. Yet that basket, an otherwise unremarkable put-back, paled in comparison to his ensuing field goal, a thunderous two-handed dunk in transition. Then, at the next stoppage in play, he was openly congratulated by teammates and coaches for his career accomplishment, one he says is of much smaller importance than what could be on the horizon.
"It's an honor and everything, but I just keep it in the back of my head," Lawrence said. "We have bigger things to accomplish this year, and I'm more worried about winning a section title and getting to GIANT Center than that."
While the Muhls (0-1) found a bit more offensive breathing room in the third quarter, contributions from center Ryan Eshleman boosted Elco offensively at the other end. Muhlenberg's Anthony Jenkins finished with team-high dozen points.
Raiders coach Brad Conners, who admitted pregame he'd waited years to take the floor for Friday's opener with his current seniors, looked ahead with a smile to Saturday's rematch.
"We feel good. We feel confident," Conners said. "We know they have a good team. They're well-coached, and Tim does a great job."
Lebanon 69, Lancaster Mennonite 56
Lancaster Mennonite (56)
Kerr 3 0-0 8, Ca. Hurst 3 3-4 9, Erjabo 1 0-0 2, Co. Hurst 2 0-0 4, Gillespie 2 2-2 6, Rosas 6 2-3 14, Jean-Philippe 4 0-0 11, Lopez 1 0-0 2. Totals — 21 7-9 56.
Caricabeur 1 0-0 2, Baker 1 2-2 4, Escoto 7 1-4 15, Bouch 2 1-2 6, Vargas 1 1-1 3, Lopez 1 1-2 4, Shaak 4 2-2 11, Sierra 1 0-0 2, Kortright 8 1-3 18, Burch 2 0-0 4. Totals — 28 9-16 69.
L. Mennonite _ 13_ 9_ 18_ 16 _ — _ 56
Lebanon _ 20_ 10 _ 25 _ 14 _ — _ 69
3-point field goals — Lebanon 4, Lancaster Mennonite 7.
Elco 78, Muhlenberg 33
Kipp 3 0-0 9, Prieto 0 1-2 1, Letterlough 1 0-0 2, Keita 0 2-2 2, Heere 1 0-0 3, Jenkins 5 0-0 12, Kauffman 2 0-0 4. Totals — 12 3-4 33.
Bossert 6 1-2 16, Buchmoyer 8 2-4 22, Lawrence 8 6-9 22, De. Stoops 2 0-0 4, Eshleman 4 1-1 9, Beamer 2 1-2 5. Totals — 23 11-18 78.
Muhl _ 2_ 4_ 12_ 13_ — _ 33
Elco _ 26_ 20_ 19_ 13 _ — _ 78
3-point goals — Elco 7, Muhlenberg 6.