Cedar Crest boys survive L-S, reach L-L semis
LAMPETER - The champions, they're not like the rest of us.
Robbed of a leading scorer and its primary big man early, the Cedar Crest boys basketball team worked for four quarters Saturday not only to overcome, but prove to the rest of the Lancaster-Lebanon League its rare mettle. And when the final buzzer sounded, silencing a heated playoff environment, the Falcons had one more reminder to add: the league title isn't going anywhere quite yet.
The two-time reigning L-L champions topped Section Three title-holder Lampeter-Strasburg, 59-52, on the road in the opening round of the league tournament, trailing just twice over the last three quarters. Senior Evan Horn deposited a game-high 26 points, including 16 after halftime built on a number of answering buckets that slowed a Pioneers comeback. Cedar Crest (18-5) now moves on to a semifinal matchup Tuesday against Section Four runner-up Lancaster Mennonite, which prevailed over Lebanon in double overtime.
The Falcons are likely to be without sophomore starter Cole Laney for the remainder of the tournament, after Laney injured his right ankle 90 seconds into play Saturday.
“We’ve said all year that it’s next man up," Horn said of the resilient win. “Against good teams this year, we've struggled. But tonight we came out, and we knew we had a good team here. We just came out strong and finished."
Coming out strong would have been for naught had it not been for an equally forceful finish, which included a go-ahead Horn layup at 1:50 to go and Raymie Ferreira's score one minute later that produced a 55-52 lead. The basket, initiated by a Horn assist from nearly half-court, then gave way to an ensuing trade of empty possessions and a dramatic open look from 3-point range from Lampeter-Strasburg's Isaac Beers at 12 ticks left.
But Beers, who had previously swished two treys, front-rimmed this time, and the Falcons snared the resulting rebound, allowing Horn and Dylan Miller to polish off their victory with made foul shots.
"It was one of our most complete games start to finish," Falcons coach Tom Smith said. "From executiing the game plan on the defensive end and offensively just playing the way I think we need to play.”
The Pioneers (22-2), meanwhile, suffered the first defeat in the last month of their spectacular campaign led by senior Matt Achille (team-best 20 points) and Ben Sandberg. Hampered for most of the night by Horn's defense, Sandberg was pinned to a season-low seven points, though no Lampeter-Strasburg player could escape Cedar Crest's pressure early.
The Falcons imposed their will in the opening half by getting after ball handlers, eventually generating an 18-10 edge after the first quarter through turnovers and a buzzer-beating Horn 3. Cedar Crest senior Iziah Trimble also poured in 10 points, knocking down two go-ahead shots amid a period with seven lead changes.
“I knew they were going to pressure Evan pretty heavy, so I knew I had to step up and hit a couple buckets and kind of carry us through the first quarter until he got it going a little bit," Trimble said. "I just did my job and filled my role.”
While the Pioneers managed to fine tune their defensive effort, they failed to regain self-control against the Falcons' sticky man-to-man, allowing their visitors to consequently carry a 31-23 advantage into the break.
“They definitely got us out of sync there in the first half,” Lampeter-Strasburg coach John Achille said. “We knew who they were. And we know how they play. And it was a war.”
The war temporarily settled into a one-sided affair during the third, when the Pioneers produced a 20-point effort that at last yielded a lead at 1:41 left in the quarter. But after Achille drilled the go-ahead, straightaway 3, Horn answered immediately with a spinning layup.
The savvy court veterans proceeded to then largely traded baskets over the fourth, until the moment called for the Falcons' captain, up one with under a minute remaining, to find Ferreira on the block and help put the game away for good.
“That was Evan’s vision,” Smith recalled of the critical play.
The vision of a champion.
Cedar Crest 59, Lampeter-Strasburg 52
Cedar Crest (59)
Kobe Bolanos 0 0-0 0, Blake Thomson 1 3-4 5, Luis Minaya 1 0-0 2, Iziah Trimble 6 0-0 14, Dylan Miller 0 2-3 2, Raymie Ferreira 5 0-1 10, Cole Laney 0 0-0 0, Evan Horn 8 8-12 26 . Totals — 21 13-20 59.
Isaac Beers 2 2-2 8, Jordyn Boynton 0 0-0 0, Connor Brown 3 1-2 7, Luke Beers 2 0-1 4, Matt Achille 7 5-6 20, Ben Sandberg 3 1-2 7, Darren Metz 3 0-0 6. Totals — 20 9-13 52.
Cedar Crest _ 18 _ 13 _ 14 _ 14 _ — _ 59
Lamp-Stras _ 10 _ 13 _ 20 _ 9 _ — _ 52
3-point goals — Cedar Crest 4 (Horn 2, Trimble 2), L-S 3 (I. Beers 2, Achille).