Backed by a combined 39 points from Mason Bossert and Caleb Buchmoyer, the Raiders notched a blowout win on Senior Night.
MYERSTOWN - For perhaps the final time, Elco's Colton Lawrence sat alone on his home bench, head dropped in an unshakable, pregame focus. Then, beckoned by the call of his name over the loudspeakers, Lawrence rose, jogged through a gauntlet of high fives and then over to a pair of familiar faces.
Standing near mid-court were fellow seniors Caleb Buchmoyer and Dylan Stoops, joined by the night's two remaining Raider starters who had a job to do: Send these three out on a high note Thursday after they had guided the Elco program to its highest regular-season peak in years.
Thirty-two minutes later, there was no doubt their mission had been accomplished.
Behind eight different scorers, the Raiders handled rival Northern Lebanon, 72-52, on Senior Night in Myerstown. Buchmoyer racked up 19 points, one shy of Mason Bossert's game-high 20, as both scored essentially at will over the first half. Stoops scored five, highlighted by a first-quarter trey.
"Those three, they're special," Elco coach Brad Conners said of his seniors. "I have a lot of love for those kids. They are our hardest workers and they didn't have a lot of people in front of them showing them how to do it, be leaders and set the example. To see them now to where they've developed, it's really pretty satisfying."
Elco (17-3, 11-3 Lancaster-Lebanon) had its cross-county foe doubled up during the initial moments following halftime, one night after the Vikings (7-13, 3-11) nearly upset section leader Lampeter-Strasburg. In response to his team's hefty deficit, Northern Lebanon coach Chris George employed mass substitutions, which introduced a new, competitive energy to the hardwood.
But the Vikings never came closer than 16, too far buried by the Raiders' hot shooting and their own early missteps.
"We were just a step slow of what we had last night," George said. "(Elco) is super talented offensively and you can't be a step slow against them. They're too good."
Saddled with two quick fouls, Lawrence (13 points) was forced to bear witness to much of his team's first-half dominance from the bench, which included a double-digit lead before five minutes had passed. While Northern Lebanon's Isaac Bicher (team-best 11 points) soon began to cut into that lead, the Vikings struggled to defend against isolated matchups and trailed 20-12 at the end of the first.
Buchmoyer then drained five free throws to open the second quarter, en route to 15 first-half points. Not long after, Bossert took the scoring baton and alternated 3-pointers with successful alley-oops.
"It was kind of symbolic with us on the bench, passing it on to the younger guys," Lawrence said. "It's always fun to come out early and sit up by 20. When Caleb and Mason are rolling, it takes a load off all of us."
The latter lob sparked an 8-2 Raiders run that closed the half with a 22-point edge. Elco's senior class took its final exit on with 1:59 remaining in the game, thus allowing Lawrence and Co. to reflect on a four-year journey that started with campaigns which could not dream of the postseason aspirations they hold this season.
The Raiders can take a significant step toward an L-L playoff berth by winning at Manheim Central on Friday.
"It's been incredible," Lawrence said. "We've still got some goals we've got to accomplish, but it's good to have as good a team as we do now, especially during our last year."
Elco 72, Northern Lebanon 52
Northern Lebanon (52)
Caleb Light 1 5-6 8, Isaac Bicher 4 2-2 11, Ben Light 3 0-0 8, Dominic Celleri 1 0-0 2, Noah Gingrich 2 0-0 4, Alex Yeager 3 0-0 9, William Fellows 2 0-0 5, Shane Reese 2 1-2 5. Totals — 18 8-10 52.
Dawson Smith 1 0-0 2, Mason Bosser 6 4-4 20, Caleb Buchmoyer 6 6-7 19, Nathan Beamer 3 0-1 7, Devin Stoops 1 0-0 2, Colton Lawrence 5 3-4 13, Ryan Eshleman 2 0-0 4, Dylan Stoops 2 0-0 5. Totals — 22 13-16 72.
N.Lebanon_ 12_ 12_ 15_ 13 _ — _ 52
Elco_ 20_ 26 _ 14_ 12 — _ 72
3-point goals — NL 8 (Yeager 3, B.Light 2, C.Light, Fellows), Elco 7 (Bossert 4, Buchmoyer, Beamer, Dy.Stoops)