LANDISVILLE — Clinging to a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Hempfield coach Danny Walck was forced to call back-to-back timeouts as his Knights struggled to cross the midline versus Conestoga Valley’s full-court press-defense.
The pressure was on the Knights throughout the game, in fact, but they conquered it by holding the visiting Buckskins to eight fourth-quarter points in route to a 53-43 win in a Section One-Two crossover battle to open the league season.
“The thing about it is each time we did that, we used up about seven seconds,” Walck said of facing the Bucks’ press. “There’s fourteen seconds, and we break it. You have to hold on to it, you don’t want to turn it over, the count is going on, the clock is running, that’s all good. Timeout, calm down, we’re alright.”
After the second timeout, Conestoga Valley (2-2) backed-off a little bit, and an extended possession eventually led to Bryan Karl’s bucket in the paint with 2:52 left to give Hempfield (3-0) a 49-41 lead with 2:52 to play.
“(The press) did create some opportunities for us and unfortunately we didn’t connect on a couple of them, but I was very happy with the effort,” said CV head coach Brad Herr.
“It’s a tempo situation where you put it on, take it off, put it on, take it off. It’s like a pitcher in baseball, if you throw hard all the time, sooner or later they time you.”
Hempfield iced the game from the free-throw line as game-high scorer Ryan Moffatt drained 5-of-6 from the stripe, part of his 22-point effort.
After Hempfield extended a 39-35 lead to 45-35, a bucket from Evan Showalter, a 3-pointer from Connor Whitacre, and a free-throw from Jovan Marrero combined for a 6-0 Bucks run. But CV wouldn’t score again until Showalter’s field goal with 12 seconds left.
“I thought we had a lot of opportunities in the fourth quarter and just didn’t connect,” Herr said. “I don’t think it was lack of execution; I give Hempfield a lot of credit for how good their defense is.”
CV led 10-4 early thanks to a 7-point first quarter from Marrero (17 points). But the 6-foot-4 senior would make just one field goal after the half as a result from the Knights’ defensive effort.
“Normally we’d have that inside-outside game to open up,” Herr said. “We didn’t connect very well from the outside (and) Hempfield had no reason to extend the defense.”
Hempfield, however, found itself from beyond the arc, as Karl (15 points) drained a 3-pointer, promptly getting back to block a Marrero shot, as CV led just 12-11 after one.
Moffatt then dropped in a pair from outside in the second quarter, Hempfield leading the road-weary CV 23-22 at the half.
“They have every excuse to talk about how tired they are right now but I don’t hear one peep of that from these guys,” Herr said of the Buckskins’ attitudes. “They’re just ready to keep going.”
While CV hosts Manheim Township on Monday, Hempfield will travel to Elizabethtown as the season begins to build.
“I think each outing we’re going to grow,” Walck said about his team’s lack of varsity experience. “It takes a while. I thought we handled the ball most of the time pretty solidly. The next time out, with a young group, you don’t know. So we have to keep growing.
“I just think they’re a fun group and they like being around each other. When you get that formula, it’s pretty special.”
Hempfield 53, Conestoga Valley 43
Conestoga Valley (43)
J. Marrero 5 7-12 17, J. Griel 3 2-2 9, C. Whitacre 2 22 7, E. Showalter 3 0-1 6, L. Monroe 1 0-0 2, T. High 1 0-0 2, T. Blantz 0 0-0 0, A. Monroe 0 0-0 0, T. Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-17 43.
R. Moffatt 6 8-10 22, B. Karl 5 3-5 15, W. Blair 3 1-2 7, A. Green 1 1-1 3, J. Mitchell 1 0-0 2, D. Martin 1 0-0 2, J. White 1 0-0 2, T. Hilton 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 13-18 53.
CV _ 12 _ 10 _ 13 _ 08 _ — _ 43
HM _ 11 _ 12 _ 16 _ 014 _ — _ 53
3-Point Goals — CV 2 (Griel, Whitacre); HM 4 (Moffatt 2, Karl 2)
JV Score — Hempfield 57, Conestoga Valley 45