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The Elco boys tennis team thought it had let a chance for an undisputed Lancaster-Lebanon Section Two title slip away in Monday's 5-2 loss to Lancaster Mennonite.

The operative word being 'thought'. The Raiders' friends from Manheim Central apparently had other ideas.

Locked in a three-way tie for first place with Mennonite and Cocalico and headed for a playoff on Friday to decide which team would wear the section crown and/or qualify for the L-L playoffs, Elco (10-1, 8-1 Section Two) instead found itself happily alone atop the standings after Manheim Central rallied to upset Mennonite 4-3 in a regular season finale battle on Thursday.

The outcome knocked Mennonite, which led Central 3-1 when the match was originally suspended due to rain earlier this month, out of the first-place tie and gave Elco the tiebreaker over Cocalico (8-1 Section Two), which it had defeated earlier in the season.

First reaction from the Raiders: Huh? Second reaction: Yes!

"Somehow Central beat Mennonite," said a still stunned Elco coach Zach Cook. "I'm hugely pleased. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen. (Mennonite) is a team that just whipped up on us on Monday. Kudos to Central for getting ready for that match."

Cook's players were hugely pleased in their own right, celebrating the surprise win with an impromptu stop at McDonalds following their non-league match at Conrad Weiser.

"We just had a quick celebration," Cook said with a laugh. "It was totally unexpected."

There was ample reason to celebrate, though. The section title was Elco's first since 2003 and came after six runner-up finishes during Cook's tenure as head coach.

"It's been a long time," Cook said of the 12-year section championship drought that ended on Thursday.

Now it's onto the L-L playoffs on Monday, when Elco will host Section One runner-up Hempfield at 4 p.m. in a semifinal matchup.

Cocalico and Manheim Township will meet in the other semifinal.

Elco also has the District Three AA Team Championships to look forward to. The Raiders are currently second in the AA power rankings.

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