Shoot4Sight Night was still a success for the Raiders, but Donegal put a damper on the festive atmosphere with the surprise victory
MYERSTOWN - The place was packed. The atmosphere was electric. There was a worthy cause to support and a member of the extended family who benefited from it.
The only other thing the Elco boys basketball team needed to make it a night to remember was a convincing victory.
Three out of four ain't bad. Sorry, Meatloaf.
The Raiders took on two pesky opponents on Friday night. They fared far better against the off-court foe - the rare eye disorder Retinitis Pigmentosa that Elco 6th-grader Gracyn Smith is battling - falling to former Section Three cellar-dweller Donegal 70-69 for just their second loss of what has been a charmed season to date.
But the charged-up Shoot4Sight Night crowd fired up Donegal, too. Led by Derek Mohr's 20 points, the Indians (4-9, 3-5 Section Three) jumped in Elco's face and stayed there for 32 minutes despite the 30-point heroics of Elco star Colton Lawrence.
"It's special, it's something that hits close," said Elco coach Brad Conners of aiding Smith and the efforts of the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation. "We were all looking forward to tonight. Big crowd, excitement. From that aspect, I think tonight was a win."
Lawrence, who presented the Smith family with a check for $550 prior to the game as part of his Senior Project fundraising efforts, did his best to make the night an on-court success as well by pouring in 18 of his 30 points prior to intermission.
But the Indians, who boasted a balanced attack and aggressive play throughout, were unfazed, leading 17--16 at the end of the first quarter, 33-32 at half, and by four heading into the fourth. The coup de grace was a 27-point closeout in the final quarter that left Conners shaking his head at his squad's defensive efforts.
"Our defense was poor, and porous. Holes everywhere." said Conners, with a hint of disgust. "I thought for the majority of the night they caught us playing on our heels."
Still, Elco battled valiantly, if not always together as evidenced by poor shot selection too much of the night. But Mason Bossert's 20 points, and Caleb Buchmoyer's 10-point second half outburst almost brought the Raiders all the way back from a 57-47 deficit with 4:40 to play.
But Donegal put the game away at the foul line, hitting 4 of 6 free throw tries in the final 24 seconds to sew up the win.
"I think we got a lot of soul-searching to do," Conners said. "To be a championship team, we need to be play better defense, we need to play better team defense, we need to be a better team. Our teamwork was a little questionable tonight. We didn't have each other's backs."
But they did have Gracyn Smith's back.
"It's awesome," Tricia Smith, Gracyn's mother, said prior to the contest. "The community support is just overwhelming. We really appreciate it. (Gracyn) loves it, she really loves it. She likes her 30 seconds of fame."
Elco 70, Donegal 69
Derek Mohr 9 2-4 20, Ethan Hess 4 0-0 11, Chris Beaudoin 2 3-4 7, Ryan Mitchell 2 2-2 6, Elijah Swanigan 4 1-2 9, Micah Reber 4 4-8 12, Austin Dimeler 1 0-0 2 Wyatt Schlaybach 0 2-2 2. Totals — 26 14-22 70.
Mason Bossert 6 5-5 20, Caleb Buchmoyer 4 0-0 10, Colton Lawrence 11 4-5 30, Nathan Beamer 3 0-1 7, Ryan Eshleman 1 0-0 2, Devin Stoops 0 0-0 0, Dylan Stoops 0 0-0 0. Totals — 25 9-11 70.
Donegal _ 17 _ 16 _ 13 _ 24 _ — _ 70
Elco _ 16 _ 16 _ 10 _ 27 _ — _69
3-point goals — D: Hess 3, E: Lawrence 4, Bossert 3, Buchmoyer 2, Beamer
JV score — Donegal 45, Elco 34