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It may be the least enjoyable task for a basketball team: responding to a loss.

But that is exactly what the Cedar Crest boys basketball team will have to do after dropping a 61-57 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 game to Manheim Township on Friday night.

The Falcons (12-5, 7-4) are still in good shape to qualify for leagues and districts, but will need to pick up a couple of wins in their last four contests to be sure of it. Their next game is Saturday against Wilson.

“It's an important game,” Cedar Crest coach Tom Smith said. “Down the stretch, they’re all important for us to stay alive in the district playoffs and to get back on track.”

“Stay alive” may be overstating it, as the Falcons were No. 6 in the District 3 Class 6A ratings entering Friday's game, and 12 teams make it. Still, an extra couple of wins would help the Falcons' rest easier.

In the L-L 1 race, Lebanon has already clinched the section title. The Falcons are still in a position to get one of the other two league playoff spots. But after Hempfield's 90-85 five-overtime win against Warwick, Cedar Crest is now tied with the Black Knights for second place, and just one game ahead of the fourth-place Blue Streaks (9-8, 6-5). The Falcons have three L-L 1 games remaining.

On Friday, the Falcons found themselves down 7-0 quickly and in a 13-5 hole midway through the first quarter. Manheim Twp. was getting behind the Cedar Crest defense and using several backdoor cuts to take the early advantage.

“We didn't do a good job of containing the basketball, and our help guys had to come up,” Smith said. “[Tyler] Crespo was dropping passes to the bigs for layups.”

Those two Blue Streak bigs were Nick Vicidomini and Brian Hines, who scored 16 and 15 points, respectively. Crespo had 10.

The Falcons did take the lead by the first two minutes of the second quarter, and the lead changed hands six hands in the period before Manheim Twp. took a 37-34 lead at the break.

Cedar Crest remained down in the third period until Blake Thompson made a 3-point shot with 44 seconds left in the quarter to put the home team up 47-45. Thompson scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the third.

Dylan Miller increased the Falcons' lead to 50-45 with a 3-point basket 30 seconds into the fourth. Miller finished with 10 points, but Cedar Crest did not score for 3:35 after that hoop.

Meanwhile, Manheim Twp. went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good, 54-50.

“It was just a good run by them,” Smith said. “They made shots and we didn't. I think we had good looks but just didn't make them. They made theirs.”

The Falcons still had a chance late, down 58-57 with under 30 seconds to go, but a shot in the lane by Cole Laney, who scored 11 points, missed. After Hines made one of two free throws, Cedar Crest had another opportunity, but the Blue Streaks forced the first Falcon turnover of the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Crespo with seven seconds left sealed the game.

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