Colton Lawrence went for 27 points and 11 rebounds as Elco knocked off Conestoga Valley 69-61 on Wednesday night.
MYERSTOWN — If the back door is open — particularly along the baseline — Colton Lawrence is going to keep bursting through until someone slams it shut.
Tightly, too — not just part of the way — or his persistence will continue.
Triggering a timely second-half rally, Lawrence’s remarkable two-minute burst pulled Elco out of arrears, allowing Brad Conners’ Raiders to pocket a come-from-behind 69-61 victory over Conestoga Valley in a matchup of Lancaster-Lebanon League playmates Wednesday night at raucous Elco High School.
Lawrence finished with a double-double (27 points, 11 rebounds) and Mason Bossert netted nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as Conners’ Raiders (3-0) captured their third win in as many tries and remained unbeaten.
Elco, which owned a decisive 42-26 advantage on the backboards, also picked up 15 rebounds from Ryan Eshleman and 10 from Caleb Buchmoyer.
Evan Showalter’s 19 points paced Conestoga Valley (2-1).
Yet when Theo Blantz canned the back end of a two-shot look with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter, Herr’s club was sitting on a comfortable 42-30 cushion.
Plus, Elco opened the second half by missing its first 10 shots.
Re-enter Lawrence, who was recognized prior to the opening whistle after collecting career point No. 1,000 at last weekend’s Lebanon Tip-Off tournament.
While his dish to Eshleman led to an easy finish that ended Elco’s 0-fer, what awaited really elevated the noise. With Buchmoyer penetrating to the left elbow, Lawrence shrugged off his defender in the right corner and sped toward the hoop. One alley-oop later, the ball was jammed home.
“Honestly, they started cheating our dribble-drive, so we went in the huddle and Coach drew up a play,” Lawrence recalled. “I said, ‘My man’s hugging me and his back’s been turned to the ball the whole game.’ When the ball’s on the opposite wing, have him drive and have Esh set a screen.
“We got two back-door lobs and that kind of started things off.”
Although Lawrence would connect from the foul line extended moments later, three more efforts featuring back-door cuts and slick yet crisp deliveries from Buchmoyer and Eshleman set up a short baseline jumper, finger roll and a reverse layup.
“We knew Colton could finish, that’s what got us going,” Bossert added.
“At that point, he was going, he had the look in his eye and you just had a feeling,” Conners said of a Lawrence outburst witnessed by Division II recruiters from East Stroudsburg, Kutztown and University of the Sciences, maybe more.
Just like that, Elco was in front.
And when Eshleman stuck back Buchmoyer’s miss just before the third-quarter horn, the Raiders were sporting a 45-42 lead. They wouldn’t trail again.
Although Lawrence’s bounces down the baseline pushed Elco back in front — the Raiders led by five at one point in the opening quarter — they also helped Conners’ bunch grow more selective at the offensive end.
That pivotal 15-0 spurt also generated plenty of energy, energy that became remarkably evident when the Raiders dug in defensively.
“Listen, I have kids who can flat-out shoot and it’s always a fine line between good shot, bad shot,” Conners said. “I really don’t want the kids thinking and hearing my voice as they’re shooting, so I try instead of ‘Hey, don’t shoot that, let’s go to the basket and get something at the rim.’”
While Elco’s lead dwindled to two (50-48) early in the fourth on Whitacre’s conventional three-point play, the Raiders promptly rattled off eight straight points and restored some order. Going 12-for-17 at the line late also helped.
“Once they started going in, you could feel the momentum,” Conners said. “We used it and we rode it.”
Right through the back door.
Elco 69, Conestoga Valley 61
Conestoga Valley (61)
Theo Blantz 1 1-2 4, Connor Whitacre 2 3-4 7, Evan Showalter 6 5-5 19, Jovan Marrero 3 5-6 11, Jeremy Griel 3 0-2 6, Trevor High 3 1-1 8, Grant Stoltzfus 2 0-0 6, Logan Monroe 0 0-0 0, Tristan Thomas 0 0-0 0, Austin Monroe 0 0-0 0.
Totals — .20 15-20 61
Mason Bossert 6 5-6 18, Caleb Buchmoyer 2 1-2 5, Colton Lawrence 8 11-11 27, Ryan Eshleman 2 2-6 6, Dylan Stoops 0 0-0 0, Nate Beamer 3 2-3 8, Devin Stoops 2 1-3 5. Totals — .23 22-31 69.
Conestoga Valley _ 21 _ 15 _ 6 _ 19 _ — _ 61
Elco _ 19 _ 11 _ 15 _ 24 _ — _ 69
3-point goals — CV: Blantz, Showalter 2, High, Stoltzfus 2, E: Bossert.