There was little polish, sporadic rhythm and early on, a chorus of whistles that would've rivaled the work of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs.
But beneath the rougher exterior lay the same tenacious core Wednesday that's lifted Cedar Crest to league titles each of the last two years. Any road back to the postseason this season will simply be less traveled and more than likely a bit bumpier.
Through a barrage of fast breaks and extra-effort plays, the Falcons pushed their way past Conestoga Valley, 52-46, at home to remain unbeaten. Senior Raymie Ferreira led the blue and white with 14 points, depositing four in the final two minutes to effectively put the Buckskins (2-4, 0-3 Lancaster-Lebanon) away.
"We're sloppy, but we're pushing through our mistakes," Ferreria said. "We were more passive than aggressive tonight, and we learned how to communicate. We just need to talk and get ourselves together."
Cedar Crest (4-0, 3-0) never trailed over the last 19 minutes, breaking free from a back-and-forth affair via an 8-0 run late in the second quarter punctuated by an Evan Horn and-1 play. Horn recorded eight points, hampered by a slightly off shooting touch that seemed to at times summarize the Falcons' night. Bucksins forward Jovan Marrero scored a night-best 18, including a dozen after halftime.
Down 29-22 at the break, Marrero and Co. came within a basket on three occasions, two registering in third quarter and the last during the fourth. Cedar Crest responded in each instance with a short burst of offense, Horn furnishing the first through an assist and then a layup.
Ferreira and sophomore Cole Laney (13 points) combined to provide the later sparks, while simultaneously producing stops at the other end to keep the Buckskins at bay.
"It's a young group," Falcons coach Tom Smith said. "The one thing that is consistent is the effort and the defense. We battle every possession, and when we battle every possession, we have a chance."
Laney, just a sophomore, projects as a key component for Cedar Crest moving forward and in particular on Friday, when it travels to rival McCaskey. The Red Tornado, last year's L-L runner-ups, boast not only one of the league's finest scorers in Kobe Gantz, but a load of motivation given the Falcons bested them twice in three meetings a year ago.
"It's going to be a great one," Ferreira said. "We've got a lot of respect for this team. We'll bring our A-game, hopefully come out with a win."
Cedar Crest 52, Conestoga Valley 46
Conestoga Valley (46)
Connor Whitacre 3 4-6 11, Trevor High 1 0-0 2, Tristan Thomas 0 0-1 0, Grant Stoltzfus 2 0-0 4, Evan Showalter 1 0-0 3, Jovan Marrero 7 4-4 18, Jeremy Griel 3 0-0 8. Totals — 17 8-12 46.
Cedar Crest (52)
Kobe Bolanos 0 2-2 2, Blake Thomson 1 0-0 2, Luis Minaya 1 0-0 2, Iziah Trimble 3 0-0 8, Cole Laney 4 4-4 13, Ramie Ferreira 6 2-7 14, Evan Horn 4 3-5 11. Totals — 19 11-18 52.
CV_ 15 _ 7_ 11_ 13 _ — _ 46
CC_ 13_ 15 _ 9_ 15 — _ 52
3-point goals — CV 4 (Griel 2, Showalter, Whitacre), CC 3 (Trimble 2, Laney).