Sophomore Blake Thomson reeled off a personal 8-0 run in the second quarter to lift the Falcons past Camp Hill
In more ways than one, Blake Thomson saved his very best for last in 2015.
Carrying Cedar Crest out from a one-possession game late in the first half Tuesday, the sophomore guard exploded for 11 points, the last three on a buzzer-beater that lifted the Falcons for good during a 58-46 victory over Camp Hill in their holiday tournament final. Thomson's 11 points matched a career high and registered third on the team behind the 16 and 14 from Cole Laney and Evan Horn, respectively. The Lions (7-3) led for a brief stay in the opening half, but failed to close within less than eight points after intermission.
"I don't think they every recovered from it," Cedar Crest coach Tom Smith said of Thomson's outburst. "Blake and Iziah (Trimble), with their defensive pressure, got them to turn the ball over and got some quick, easy ones. We stretched it to 10 and that's pretty much where the game stayed."
The Falcons (8-2, 5-1 Lancaster-Lebanon) have now won their fourth straight—both overall and in their holiday tournament's championship history. Horn was named tourney MVP, while Kobe Bolanos (six points) joined him on the all-tournament team.
Camp Hill's Casey Caruso captained his team with 14 points, backed by 11 from David Fetrow. Caruso's string of three baskets early in the second quarter produced the Lions' only edge of the night, which was quickly erased by consecutive Horn scores. Then, ahead 17-15, Thomson crashed to the floor as a hard foul had interrupted his left-wing drive. Peeling himself off the hardwood, Cedar Crest's sixth man regrouped to rip off a personal 8-0 run that included one free throw, two layups and a 3-pointer amid multiple Lion turnovers.
"We just kept pressuring them," Thomson said of the sequence. "They kept coming my way, I was taking the ball away and scoring easily."
Breaking out of an ensuing timeout, Caruso next drained a 3-pointer that snapped Thomson's run and pulled Camp Hill to within seven. But Cole Laney washed out the crafty guard's efforts through an answering trey and Thomson's half-finishing touch later furnished a 31-18 Falcons lead at the break.
Horn's active hands kept Cedar Crest alive through a physical, foul-marred third period that concluded with two more of the senior's steals and still a double-digit margin. When the Lions scratched to a deficit under 10 in the fourth, Horn was there again to supply an and-1 play for extra cushion.
"Offensively, we're still getting there. But what kept that lead for us is that we dug in and defended our tails off," Smith said. "We were getting stops, and they're a very good offensive rebounding team, but I think we did a very good job limiting their second-chance points.
"When it was ugly, we weren't necessarily scoring much, but we were matching baskets at least."
And they could afford to match, thanks to Thomson, who remarked post-game that it's been his vision and driving that have improved most over the infancy of his varsity career.
"Before when I was taking the ball, I was just looking to score," he said, "and now I'm kicking it out to Raymie (Ferreira) and Evan (Horn) outside."
When reminded it was Horn who fed his final, critical basket of the night, Thomson admitted:
"Yeah. I like how that's going."
Most sporting blue and white Tuesday would agree.
Cedar Crest 58, Camp Hill 46
Camp Hill (46)
Casey Caruso 6 0-0 14, Brady Green 1 0-0 3, Logan Vallati 0 2-2 2, Darien Perez 1 0-0 2, Mark Leach 1 0-0 2, David Fetrow 4 2-2 11, Matt Lowe 0 1-2 1, Zack Kunts 2 0-0 4, Michael Shuster 3 0-0 7. Totals — 18 5-6 46.
Cedar Crest (58)
Kobe Bolanos 0 6-9 6, Blake Thomson 4 1-2 11, Iziah Trimble 2 0-0 4, Dylan Miller 1 0-0 2, Tate Seyfert 0 1-4 1, Cole Laney 7 0-0 16, Raymie Ferreira 2 0-3 4, Evan Horn 5 4-5 14. Totals — 21 12-23 58.
CH_ 7_ 11_ 11_ 17 _ — _ 46
CC_ 11_ 20 _ 12_ 15 — _ 58
3-point goals — CH 5 (Caruso 2, Green, Fetrow, Shuster) CC 4 (Thomson 2, Laney 2)