The Raiders took a late lead in Manheim and held on to get one step closer to an L-L playoff berth


MANHEIM - One more to go.

Surviving three rough-and-tumble quarters, the Elco boys basketball team outlasted Manheim Central, 52-47, on the road Friday to place itself on the precipice of a Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff berth. The Raiders (18-3, 12-3 L-L) travel to Donegal on Tuesday for their regular-season finale, which can serve as a berth clincher should they leave with a victory. Colton Lawrence's 20 points helped Elco bounce out of the Barons' gym with a win, as did his defense of Manheim Central star Taylor Funk.

While Funk finished with a game-high 25 points, thanks to a handful of NBA-range 3-pointers, the Barons (13-7, 9-6) were held to a single basket over a key 4-minute span that bridged the last two quarters. Simultaneously, the Raiders canned a trey on four straight trips and held their newfound lead for good.

"I thought it was our defense that really kept us in it," Elco coach Brad Conners said. "They did a really good job of uglying it up, and we talked about if you don't want to play against their defense, get the rebound and run. Attack the middle, kick and find your shooters.

"If you give our shooters open 3s, they're going to hit them."

Caleb Buchmoyer (12 points) was the first Raider shooters to hit at the 1:40 left in the third quarter, cutting a game-long Manheim Central lead down to two. Soon after, Lawrence followed with a go-ahead 3, which capped a scrambled possession that was not only perfectly emblematic of the game to date, but saw every Elco player on the floor touch the ball.

"We tried to keep them uncomfortable, tried to get them doing or moving in directions where they're not real comfortable based on what we saw on film," Barons coach Chris Sherwood said. "But those guys made big shots for them when they needed them most."

Manheim Central's lone basket of this critical stretch then dropped to open the fourth, furnishing a brief lead later ended by an ensuing Nate Beamer's long ball. Set up by another Raider drive and kick, Buchmoyer next struck again from distance for a 39-34 advantage at 6:21 to go.

Unbowed defense allowed Elco to keep its distance from there, as well as a pair of Lawrence fast-break finishes. Buchmoyer assisted the latter score after corralling a loose ball tapped out by his senior teammate, who played a starring role in his favorite moment from Friday.

"(It was) watching Colton hammer them in transition," the senior said of the night's highlight.

And yet it was Buchmoyer who delivered Friday's dagger with a floater at 1:20 remaining that extended the Raiders' lead to eight, allowing them to survive late Baron field goals and their own rare miss from the free throw line. When Elco, up 50-47 with 20 ticks left, received a second chance at the charity stripe via Mason Bossert (11 points), the junior canned both freebies and the Raiders held on for good.

Elco trailed 21-18 at halftime, unable to close the gap against Funk and the Barons' multitude of second-chance points.

The Raiders now refocus to Donegal, which upset them back on Jan. 8 in Myerstown. And this new chance at revenge, as well as a league playoff berth, will be all they think about until Tuesday, right?

"Oh yeah," Buchmoyer said.

Elco 52, Manheim Central 47

Elco (52)

Nate Beamer 3 0-1 7, Mason Bossert 3 4-4 11, Caleb Buchmoyer 5 0-0 12, Ryan Eshleman 1 0-2 2, Colton Lawrence 9 0-1 20. Totals — 21 4-8 52.

Manheim Central (47)

Taylor Funk 10 1-2 25, Trevor Hosler 3 2-2 8, Connor Hostetter 1 4-4 7, Kody Kegarise 2 0-1 4, Tyler 1 0-0 2, Jake Novak 0 1-2 1. Totals — 17 6-11 47.

Elco_ 8_ 10 _ 15_ 19_ — _ 52

MC_ 12_ 9_ 11_ 15 _ — _ 47

3-point goals — E 6 (Lawrence 2, Buchmoyer 2, Bossert, Beamer), MC 7 (Funk 4, Hosler 2, Hostetter)

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