ANNVILLE — Might not have been the prettiest or the most-efficient performance stitched together by a basketball-playing Cedar Crest club thus far, but Tom Smith’s Falcons certainly aren’t going to ask for a replay or a do-over.
They’ll take Saturday night’s positive result, move forward and try to tighten up some of the game’s aspects they know they can perform more effectively.
Then, next time out, Crest will try to build on its five-game win streak.
Getting 18 points and 10 rebounds from Evan Horn as well as 12 points off the bench from rapidly improving sophomore Blake Thomson, Crest pocketed a 55-49 win over a scrappy Central Dauphin side in the last of three in the Rhoades Foundation Classic at Lebanon Valley College.
Although things got a bit uneasy down the stretch — Central Dauphin pulled to within one (42-41) with just over five minutes to play — Crest (9-2) trailed only briefly late (17-16) in the opening half.
Braydon Parr racked up 18 points and Chase Arnold chipped in 11 for Jay Crosier’s Rams (3-7), who dropped their fourth consecutive outing.
“We got through it,” Smith admitted following a post-game exhale. “I thought we played with some good effort and intensity, but if we make some foul shots down the stretch I’d probably have a much different outlook on how we actually played.
“The unfortunate thing is that for us to accomplish our goals is we can’t play like that, we can’t shoot like that from the foul line and that’s what I took out of this,” Smith added. “We got a win and any win is a good win — and we’ll take it.”
Holding a 37-27 lead midway through the second half following Thomson’s transition layup — Horn’s pass set up the score — Smith’s Falcons appeared ready to create even more separation.
CD closed the third on a 6-1 spurt, then opened the fourth with an 8-2 salvo that had the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division entry within one (42-41) following Arnold’s trey from the left wing. Just 5:11 was showing on the clock.
While CD had three straight empty possessions, Crest parlayed Tate Seyfert’s finish, Cole Laney’s baseline drive and free throws from Kobe Bolanos and Raymie Ferreira into a 48-41 lead with just over two to go.
“We get it to where we’re right there, but unfortunately it happens over and over again,” Crosier said. “It comes down to the conversation I had again tonight. I said, ‘Listen guys, every time I come in here I tell you how proud I am of how hard you played and how tough you played most of the time.’
“First quarter, we got out-toughed, but we switched that and that’s how we got back into it. We do that all the time, but now they’ve got to get better at all the other things. If they don’t, they’re going to continue on in this vicious circle of play hard, get close, play hard, get close and lose.”
“It all starts on the defensive end and, even there at the end when they were making a little bit of a run, we’re missing foul shots and giving up layups,” Smith lamented.
Merely 18-for-36 from the stripe throughout the 32-minute exercise, the Falcons knocked down just 11 of their 22 freebies in the final quarter.
“We’ll take it,” said Smith, whose Falcons were impatient and rushed shots for much of the first half against CD’s 2-3 zone. “We’re getting better by the day and we’re gonna fix all this stuff and, hopefully, come mid-February and into March we’re still playing and our guys are understanding everything that we’re doing.”
Cedar Crest 55, Central Dauphin 49
Cedar Crest (55)
Kobe Bolanos 1 3-6 5, Iziah Trimble 1 2-4 5, Cole Laney 2 0-0 4, Raymie Ferreira 1 2-6 4, Evan Horn 6 4-8 18, Blake Thomson 4 2-5 12, Dylan Miller 0 3-4 3, Tate Seyfert 1 0-0 2, Luis Minaya 0 0-1 0, Logan Horn 0 2-2 2. Totals 16 18-36 55. Totals — .
Central Dauphin (49)
Chad Cortez 3 1-2 7, Braydon Parr 7 3-5 18, Ben Green 0 1-3 1, Chase Arnold 4 1-2 11, Da’Ron Jennings 2 0-0 4, Paul Jordan 1 1-2 3, Garrett Smith 0 1-3 1, Julian Jackson 1 2-2 4, Corbin Van Dyck 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-19 49. Totals — .
Cedar Crest _ 13 _ 8 _ 19 _ 15 _ — _ 55
Central Dauphin _ 7 _ 13 _ 13 _ 16 _ — _ 49
3-point goals — CC: Trimble, E. Horn 2, Thomson 2, CD; Arnold 2, Parr.