MYERSTOWN – The Elco boys basketball team has had a frustrating start to the season, akin to a child who wants to eat all of mother's Christmas cookies but can't quite get the jar open.
The Raiders dropped a 73-70 decision to Lancaster Mennonite on Monday night in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 3 action, keeping Elco (0-5, 0-2) winless on the season.
“We've been close now a few times,” Raider coach Brad Conners said. “We need to win one of these.”
At first, Monday's game did not appear to be one of those close contests. The Blazers (5-1, 2-0) led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, and took their largest lead at 53-38 late in the third on a layup by Isaac Beers.
Nathan Beamer ended the third quarter with a pair of free throws to make it 53-40 going into the fourth quarter, and start a 16-7 Elco run that got the home team back in it.
With 1:18 to play, Blake Weary made a 3-point shot to get the Raiders within 64-61, the first time the home team had been within one possession since the opening minutes.
Elco did not get a possession with a chance to tie until 20.5 seconds left, when down 71-68, Mason Bossert was fouled and made two free throws to get within one point.
Carter Hurst made one of two free throws with 19.5 seconds on the clock. With a chance to take the lead, Bossert's attempt at a 3-pointer spun out of the basket. Lancaster Mennonite rebounded, and Timmy Stefonsky made one of two free throws with 8.1 seconds left for a 73-70 lead.
Then down three points again, Elco got two 3-point shots off in the final seconds, neither of which fell.
Bossert led all players with 23 points, including a 10-for-12 performance from the free throw line. Free throws were part of the reason behind the Raiders' comeback. Elco was 18-for-28 at the line, while Lancaster Mennonite was 18-for-41.
Beamer added 13 points, Ryan Eshelman scored 12 and Devin Stoops contributed 11. Eshelman led all players with 12 rebounds.
“We were strong shooting the ball tonight to still find a way to have a shot at the end,” Connors said. “Sometimes I think kids are more resilient than adults.”
Javan Terry led the Blazers with 21 points and Johnathan Gillespie had 16.