Regardless of what any Cedar Crest boys basketball team member may have unwrapped last week, there was one gift every Falcon could cherish this holiday break.
Laced up with the benefit of three preceding off days for the first time since Dec. 11, Cedar Crest took the floor Monday with an expected extra pep in its step. And it showed.
Evan Horn scored a game-best 22 points and the Falcons put away Conrad Weiser in the third quarter of a 70-44 rout to advance to their holiday tournament final. Cedar Crest (7-2, 5-1 Lancaster-Lebanon) will meet Camp Hill, a one-point winner over Hershey in the tournament’s opener, Tuesday night for the holiday title. The Scouts (3-3) surrendered 17 turnovers in the first half alone, unable to overcome the Falcons' pressure and multiple quarter-closing runs, the surest signs of their rejuvenation.
"It was nice," Horn said of the recent break. "Offensively tonight I think we did a real nice job. And we forced a lot of turnovers, but we were gambling just as much out there. So we've just got to play good, smart defense now, and we'll be even better."
Horn's second of two treys punctuated the first quarter, which furnished an early 20-10 Cedar Crest lead. Over the night's opening minutes, the senior captain nabbed three steals and recorded 10 points, following up on a pair of 3-pointers courtesy of Iziah Trimble (10 points). Another senior guard, Blake Thomson, then dropped in his own long ball to end the half on a 9-2 run for the Falcons, who still led by 10 at intermission.
Initiated by a Horn dish as the clock wound under five seconds, Thomson's 3 seemed to exemplify the one area in which Cedar Crest has grown most since the start of its new campaign.
"Trust," Falcons coach Tom Smith said. "They're starting to trust each other that they're going be at the right spot at the right time out there. And they're also starting to understand where everyone's going to be."
Despite cutting its deficit to as little as three late in the first half, Conrad Weiser failed to keep its host within reach, KOed by a 9-0 spurt in the third quarter. The run, sparked by a Trimble floater, was later sustained by Dylan Miller's two free throws sandwiched by Raymie Ferreira baskets. Ahead by more than 20 with a period to go, Horn then received his first mid-game breather in four contests and in turn a front-row seat to his team's continuing defensive showcase.
"Especially in that third quarter, I think we imposed our will a little bit," Smith said. "(Pressing) definitely helped us out in a game like tonight's."
Moving forward against a talented Camp Hill squad, such success with the press may not repeat. But don't expect Cedar Crest, particularly with its newfound, newly charged legs, to change defensively for anyone.
"They've got athletes, some scorers, size and they shoot the ball very, very well," Smith said of the Lions. "They're very good. Don't be fooled by the single-A."
Cedar Crest 70, Conrad Weiser 44
Conrad Weiser (44)
Pierce Brosious 2 1-4 6, Angelo Colon 2 4-4 10, Nathan Dobb 2 1-4 5, Tyler Hoss 1 2-2 5, Coran Jordan 3 0-0 6, Alex Mackenzie 0 0-2 0, Max Ober 1 0-4 2, Colton Sell 2 2-4 6, Josh Taatjes 0 1-2 1, Phil Weiser 1 1-2 3. Totals — 14 12-30 44.
Cedar Crest (70)
Luke Allwein 1 1-1 3, Brett Bawiec 3 0-0 6, Raymie Ferreira 4 1-3 9, Evan Horn 9 2-3 22, Logan Horn 1 0-0 3, Cole Laney 1 0-0 2, Dylan Miller 1 4-5 6, Luis Minaya 1 0-0 2, Blake Thomson 3 0-0 7, Iziah Trimble 4 2-2 10. Totals — 28 8-16 70.
CW_ 10_ 17_ 8_ 9 _ — _ 44
CC_ 20_ 17 _ 19_ 14 — _ 70
3-point goals — CC 6 (Trimble 2, E. Horn 2, L. Horn, Thomson), CW 4 (Colon 2, Brosious, Hoss)