LANCASTER — Lancaster Catholic used a furious second-half rally to battle to a 49-44 victory against Manheim Central on Monday. Senior forward Thomas Gonzalez led the Crusaders with 14 points alongside teammate and fellow big man Sean Landis who also finished in double figures with 11 points. Manheim Central’s Taylor Funk led all scorers with 21 points.
Landis said the Crusaders' game plan focused on Funk.
“We wanted to establish the paint, while not allowing Funk to get the ball,” Landis said. “This win was a huge confidence booster for our team after a tough loss to Lancaster Mennonite.”
Early on the Barons (4-2, 1-1) raced out to a 4-0 lead, forcing the Crusaders (2-2, 1-1) to call a timeout to regroup. Crusaders head coach Joe Klazas made certain to sure up his squad’s defense, while solidifying an attack on offense.
The Crusaders went on a 17-9 run to take the lead using effective passes against the Barons' zone defense to open up opportunities in the paint from Thomas Gonzalez and Sean Landis. Manheim Central closed out the first half with back-to-back 3-pointers from beyond the arc by Taylor Funk.
Heading into halftime the Barons had regained a 23-19 lead and Taylor Funk was starting to heat up shooting the basketball.
Manheim Central continued to find success shooting the basketball throughout the early stages of the third quarter. The Barons built up a 34-27 lead over the hosts. After a pair of made free throws from Funk, the Barons took their largest lead of the game at 36-27.
However, the fourth quarter favored the Crusaders. Thanks in large part to a physical presence under the bucket, Lancaster Catholic capitalized on second-chance opportunities and crawled back into the game down just 36-32.
Missed free throws began to plague the Barons. Junior guard Tyler Lyons missed a crucial pair from the charity stripe with his team hanging onto a 36-34 lead with under seven minutes remaining. A few possessions later, Lancaster Catholic’s Chad Wenger sank a jump shot from the elbow to recapture the lead for the Crusaders at 38-37.
With the game shifting back and forth, Taylor Funk again helped the Barons take back the lead, 42-40 after fighting for a tip-in attempt and converting. The Crusaders' Thomas Gonzalez was fouled on the ensuing possession, and the senior forward drained both free-throw attempts to level the scoring at 42-42.
Moments later, after a failed possession by Manheim Central, Crusaders junior forward Sean Landis put his stamp on the game with his physical play inside. After fighting in the paint Landis put up a close range shot and gave the Crusaders a 45-43 lead.
The game was placed in Landis’ hands with 22 seconds left in the game, when the big man took an inbounds pass from teammate Chad Wenger and drove the baseline, finishing strong with a reverse lay-in while being fouled. Landis sank the free throw and the lead was now 48-44.
The key play from Landis gave the Crusaders a 49-44 win in a gutsy performance from both Landis and teammate Gonzalez.