Colton Lawrence led the Raiders with a game-high 27 points, setting up a Friday quarterfinal matchup with No. 4 Eastern York
MYERSTOWN - Elco coach Brad Conners confessed he couldn't see it coming. But in retrospect, the signs may have been there all along.
First came the Raiders' hot-shooting scrimmage against Hempfield last week. Then, the look he says burned in the eyes of his seniors pre-game. And lastly, the all too inviting Steel-High zone that set up repeatedly on Elco's home floor, just waiting to be shot over.
Yes, Tuesday was going to be a good night to be a Raider.
Bombing No. 12 Steel-High with 11 treys, fifth-seeded Elco blasted its way to the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals with an 80-58 first-round victory. Raiders senior Colton Lawrence racked up a game-high 27 points, supported by 20 from Mason Bossert and Caleb Buchmoyer's double-double.
Propelled by a 28-11 third quarter, Elco notched its first 20-win season since 1986 and earned a meeting with No. 4 Eastern York on Friday at Hershey High School.
“What I saw tonight was our guys willing to make the extra pass," Conners said. "When we’re willing to make the extra pass, we are a really good team. That’s the team we’ve been waiting to see all year. And as far as that area, that’s been our best effort for the year.
“The 3-point line is literally like a layup for some of these kids.”
Bossert led all Raiders in long-distance layups with a half-dozen, his first capping a 13-0 Elco run over an explosive opening quarter. Then, ahead by three heading into the second, Elco (20-4) quickly ceded its lead, only to steal the edge right back at 4:40 remaining in the half when Buchmoyer canned a three and Bossert followed by stealing and scoring off the Rollers' ensuing inbounds pass.
Before intermission broke, Lawrence drained his own go-ahead trey for a 35-33 halftime margin.
“Our eyes got wide open when they came out in the zone," Bossert said. "I thought that was a good matchup for us since we have so many shooters.”
But the story, no doubt, was the third. Elco tore away from Steel-High (12-10) largely through the same long-distance attack it's used all year, eventually sending the Rollers to their second largest defeat of the season. Steel-High's mid-quarter switch out of its 3-2 zone had little effect.
“We didn’t defend very well, whether it was zone or man,” Steel-High coach Rick Binder said. “You can’t give up 80 points in a high school game and win.”
Buchmoyer finished the eight-minute obliteration with three straight drives to the hoop, his last a buzzer-beating effort that punctuated a personal 12-point quarter.
“I’ve been saying for a few days that Buchmoyer’s going to have a monster game. I just felt it," Conners said. "The last two weeks of practice he’s been locked in. To me, he’s been the one who’s completely bought in.”
Buchmoyer wasn't the only one providing punctuation, though. Lawrence slammed down an alley-oop dunk during the fourth, before eventually soaking in his first career district tournament victory from the bench. His exit, along with those belonging to the other Raider seniors and starters, drew a deserved round of applause.
“To play your last home game here like that, he’s been a coach’s dream,” Conners said of Lawrence.
And the dream isn't over just yet.
Elco 80, Steel-High 58
Jaron Grayer 3 1-2 7, Jarvai Flowers 1 0-0 3, Amiq Jenkins 1 0-2 3, Jaqui Jenkins 10 0-0 24, Jayshon Ramsey 3 0-0 7, Malachi Young 4 1-2 10 Jelai Isom 0 2-2 2, Tyrece Little 0 0-0 0, Sam Kidane 0 0-0 0, Ibrahim Morris-Togans 0 2-2 2, Andrae Smith 0 0-2 0. Totals — 22 6-12 58.
Mason Bossert 7 0-0 20, Joe Ginder 0 0-0 0, Caleb Buchmoyer 7 1-1 17, Nate Beamer 3 4-4 10, Devin Stoops 0 0-0 0, Colton Lawrence 11 3-5 27, Jeff Lorah 0 0-0 0, Travis Weaver 0 0-0 0, Ryan Eshleman 1 1-4 3, Dylan Stoops 1 0-0 3, Ryan Woelfling 0 0-0 0. Totals — 30 9-14 80.
Steel-High_ 16_ 17_ 11_ 14 _ — _ 58
Elco_ 19_ 16 _ 28_ 17 — _ 80
3-point goals — S-H 8 (J.Jenkins 4, Ramsey, Flowers, A.Jenkins, Young), Elco 11 (Bossert 6, Buchmoyer 2, Lawrence 2, Dy.Stoops)