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It's been a difficult season for the Red Lion boys' basketball team, but Lions coach Steve Schmehl has seen some reason for optimism — especially lately.
The team held a 1-12 record through Jan. 15, but the Lions collected three victories over a six-day span last week. Red Lion defeated Cocalico (49-41) last Monday, South Western (46-43) on Friday and Warwick (57-53 in double overtime) on Saturday.
"We've been playing better recently than we were for most of the season," Schmehl said. "It's nice to see the progress that we've made. We're a young team, but this has been encouraging for us."
Schmehl starts four juniors and a senior, and two of his first three players off the bench are sophomores.
Junior Jamel Foster posted 29 points in the win against Warwick and is averaging a team-best 13.8 points per game for the season.
As the team's big man, 6-foot-6 junior Tyler Burchett puts in 8.6 points per game and uses his sturdy frame to control the glass and protect the rim. He grabbed 10 boards in Tuesday's contest with Spring Grove.
Juniors Tyler Stabley (5.3 ppg) and Gavin Watt (2.4 ppg), along with senior Ryan Schreckengast (6.6 ppg) round out the starting lineup for the Lions. It was Stabley's 3-pointer at the buzzer that won the South Western game.
Sophomores Phil Douglass (1.1 ppg) and Zach Keener (2.1 ppg) and senior Brock Gould (3.8 ppg) round out the Lions' regular rotation.
Against Spring Grove on Tuesday, the Lions trailed 27-26 midway through the third quarter before the Rockets ended the quarter with an 11-2 run and went on to a 53-37 win.
Foster topped the Lions with 23 points in the loss.
"We did a lot of good things (Tuesday)," Schmehl said. "We went cold for about six minutes and that's when the game got away from us. That's been a problem all year."
After Friday's 66-57 loss to William Penn, three games remain on the schedule for the Lions. Red Lion has a road game against Greencastle-Antrim and home contests with New Oxford and Dallastown.
"I look at it as four more chances for us to get better," Schmehl said. "We're obviously not going to the playoffs, but we've got to take advantage of these chances to improve ourselves."