LAMPETER — Undoubtedly still miffed following a disappointing loss several days earlier at home, Cocalico’s basketball-playing bunch arrived at Lampeter-Strasburg Friday night packing plenty of determination and resolve.
Travis Wealand’s club also brought along a couple of effective zone defenses and, packed somewhere in a blue-tinted duffel bag that makes every road trip, was the Eagles’ remarkably precise and effective free-throw shooting form.
Good thing, too.
Getting 18 points from Tucker Lescoe and 13 more from Aidan Trynosky — Trynosky banked 10 second-half points — Cocalico made the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Section 3 championship chase quite a bit more interesting at the midway point after dealing Lampeter-Strasburg a 54-49 setback.
Lescoe also collected six rebounds for Wealand’s Eagles (9-3, 6-2), who dropped a 61-57 decision to Manheim Central Tuesday night in Denver.
Luke Beers racked up 15 points and Matt Achille chimed in with 12 for the previously undefeated Pioneers (10-1, 7-1) — Achille also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and dropped six dimes — who were down by just a deuce (51-49) with 1:38 to go following Beers’ trey from the right wing.
L-S never inched closer.
Cocalico, which effectively employed its spread sets for the final five-plus minutes in an effort to shorten the Section 3 scrap, knocked down four of six freebies to cement the victory and significantly tighten the six-team circuit’s standings.
Trynosky secured the victory with 5.9 ticks showing on the clock, canning both ends of his one-and-one trip to give Wealand’s Eagles their five-point cushion.
With the victory, Cocalico pulled into a tie for second place with an Elco outfit that tumbled 70-69 to Donegal. While both second-place sides sit just one game behind L-S, fourth-place Manheim Central is just two games out of first.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Wealand, whose Eagles will entertain Red Lion Saturday in Denver. “There’s a long way to go, so we’ve just got to keep rolling.”
L-S skipper John Achille was unavailable for post-game comment, but his Pioneers will be back in action Saturday against visiting Susquehanna Twp.
Sporting a 25-22 halftime lead, Cocalico watched that three-point edge disappear quickly as L-S reeled off the first seven points of the third quarter.
Ben Sandberg, who picked up three first-half fouls and was limited to about three minutes of court time, ignited the burst with a trey. A pair of Connor Brown freebies and Isaac Beers’ finish at the rim had the Pioneers up 29-25.
Lescoe’s step-back trey moments later settled the visiting Eagles. Another Lescoe rip from deep — he finished with three — had Cocalico in front to stay (33-31).
Lescoe and Trynosky each bagged three treys.
Still clinging to a two-point lead (43-41) when Wealand called time following the first of Sandberg’s two stickback flushes — the crowd was really buzzing following the 6-4 junior’s work at the tin — and started to get his club in end-game mode.
While Moses Ulysse’s short fade from the left edge of the paint made it a two-possession game, Jordan Boynton’s free throw had L-S within three.
As soon as Cocalico crossed the midcourt stripe, the Eagles began flashing their four-corner look. Neither side was close to the bonus — an overabundance of whistles that put Sandberg, Lescoe and Ulysse on their respective benches led to 16 minutes of repeated starts and stops — but the visitors were a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line at that point and Wealand liked his chances.
“We thought it was the right thing to do,” Wealand admitted.
Turns out, Wealand was spot on.
With L-S chasing, Ulysse was able to get to the hoop for an and-one that he converted and Lescoe knocked down the last of his three bombs. Cocalico’s lead was a fairly comfortable seven points (51-44) with three-plus to go.
Another Sandberg follow-up jam and Luke Beers’ rip from the right wing had the Pioneers back within two and full of energy.
L-S even managed to log a defensive stop — Dante Haines’ trey from the left corner was off the mark — but Achille’s crisp dish from the high post was mishandled and the ball went back to Cocalico.
Suddenly, L-S was forced to foul just to get to the bonus.
While Ian Arcudi knocked down the front end of his one-and-one with 21.4 to play to make it 52-49, another L-S miss meant the Pioneers had to foul someone and they chose Haines. Just 10.1 seconds were flashing on the scoreboard.
Haines, however, could not can the front end and L-S rebounded. Since Cocalico wasn’t in the bonus, the Eagles opted to foul in the backcourt.
Sensing what was next, the Pioneers called time.
As soon as L-S inbounded the ball, D.J. Fabiani was able to reach in, get a piece of the ball near midcourt and the ball glanced off a Pioneer leg and out of play.
Soon, Trynosky was parked at the foul line. And soon, after the sophomore bagged both ends, the Eagles were leading by five points.
“We practice foul shooting every day,” admitted Wealand, whose fundamentally proficient bunch converted 14 of its 16 freebies.
Smallish Cocalico also must work plenty on the compact 3-2 and 2-3 zones it employed. With the paint effectively penned off, L-S was forced to spend most of the game jacking jumpers and shot just 37 percent (17-for-46) from the floor.
The Pioneers drained just 21 percent (6-for-29) of their treys.
“They run some terrific sets, but I thought our guys were disciplined defensively,” Wealand said. “They took a few shots that I wish had been contested more.”
Enough didn’t fall, though.
So, as far as Cocalico was concerned, given Tuesday night’s loss to Manheim Central, Friday night’s effort was simply one effective collective rebound filled to the brim with an bottomless supply of determination and resolve.
Said Wealand: “I think our guys were ready to go after losing our last game.”
Sure seemed that way.
Cocalico 54, Lampeter-Strasburg 49
Ian Arcudi 1 5-6 7, Tucker Lescoe 5 5-5 18, D.J. Fabiani 1 0-0 2, Moses Ulysse 4 1-1 9, Aidan Trynosky 4 2-2 13, Dante Haines 1 1-2 3, John Landis 1 0-0 2, Nick Monteleone 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 14-16 54.
Isaac Beers 2 0-0 5, Connor Brown 1 2-2 4, Luke Beers 6 1-2 15, Matt Achille 3 5-5 12, Ben Sandberg 4 0-0 9, Jordan Boynton 0 1-2 1, Logan Miller 0 0-0 0, Jake Groff 0 0-0 0, Jake Banner 1 0-0 3, George Grau 0 0-0 0, Darren Metz 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 9-11 49.
Cocalico 13-12-15-14 — 54
Lampeter-Strasburg 12-10-15-12 — 49
3-point shots: Cocalico 6 (Lescoe 3, Trynosky 3); Lampeter-Strasburg 6 (I.Beers, L.Beers 2, Achille, Sandberg, Banner).