Four takeaways from the latest in Lebanon County high school hoops:
They've secured 10 wins from their last 10 games, and the next one may just be as important as all the rest.
The Cedar Crest boys basketball team (14-2, 9-1 Lancaster-Lebanon) awaits a home showdown Tuesday against McCaskey, which handed the Falcons their first loss of the season one month ago. Save for a tough-luck home defeat to Central York the following day, Cedar Crest has done nothing but roll opponents since, which it owes to the growth of its younger players.
Such improvement, Falcons captain Evan Horn said Friday, has come through intensified practices, which recently featured a toe-to-toe meeting between he and sophomore Blake Thomson. The meeting, more aptly described as a challenge between the two, would not have occurred earlier in the year when Cedar Crest was still finding its way. And it's no accident that these kind of competitive showings have translated from practices into games.
Now having carved out a path back to the top of Section One, the Falcons control their own destiny with respect to another section title. Furthermore, beating the Red Tornado would not only clear their largest remaining hurdle, but place a two-game separation between themselves and the next section contenders.
Elco's Mason Bossert can't miss from 3-point range
Sixteen 3-pointers over a three-game stretch is a terrific run for just about anyone.
Except perhaps Elco junior Mason Bossert, who could more casually refer to that as just another week in the gym.
Bossert canned eight treys Friday at Lancaster Mennonite, matching his output from the Raiders' two previous games in crossover competition. The sharpshooter has nailed one 3-pointer in every game except two this season and averages 3.5 per contest. Elco will most certainly need his scoring in the coming days, as it tackles fellow Section Three title contenders Lampeter-Strasburg and Cocalico.
The good news? Bossert drained eight long balls last time against the Eagles and appears, as ridiculous as it may seem, almost primed to do it again.
NL's Zerman paid ultimate compliment by Lancaster Catholic
They ran two defenders at her. They face-guarded her. They bumped and jostled her off the ball.
In short, the Lancaster Catholic girls basketball team treated Northern Lebanon floor leader Zoe Zerman rather roughly on Wednesday night during the big showdown between the Vikings and Crusaders in Lancaster.
Zerman, who still managed 12 points in Northern Lebanon's first loss of the season, probably didn't enjoy it much. But she should have taken it as a compliment.
That the Crusaders devoted that much defensive attention to Zerman speaks volumes about how highly they thought of her all-around game and how important they believed it was to keep her in check if they were to emerge with the win.
"Absolutely," said Catholic coach Charlie Detz, when asked if the strategy was a sign of respect for Zerman. "I thought it was a good thing to do to them, because we wanted the ball out of her hands. Zerman's a pure scorer, and she makes her other teammates better. That's what I like about her."
Lebanon Catholic, Elco girls flying high, under the radar
They've been overshadowed a bit locally by the dominating play of the Cedar Crest and Northern Lebanon, but the Lebanon Catholic and Elco girls are quietly putting together superb seasons in their own right as the stretch drive nears.
The Beavers, the reigning District Three Class A champs, had an eight-game win streak snapped at Cocalico on Friday night but are poised to be a postseason force at the district and state level, as well as a Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff qualifier.
Catholic's starting five of Neesha Pierre, Mariah Sholly, Celine Mars, Allie Warren and Jayden Shellehamer is as good as any in the L-L, as evidenced by its upset win over Section One co-leader Manheim Township last month.
Elco, meanwhile, has won five straight and is very much in contention for the L-L and District Three playoffs after notching its 10th win Friday night. The Raiders went 9-13 last season.
A nice mix of veterans and youngsters has gelled nicely, with senior Chandelle Keller leading a starting lineup that includes emerging freshmen Ryelle Shuey and Julia Nelson.
They've done quite a bit already, but bigger and better things may yet await Lebanon Catholic and Elco this season.