LANCASTER – Elco’s reward for one of its best boys’ basketball regular seasons in school history was a pair of playoff games against legendary programs.

So, coach Brad Conners expected some nerves when his Raiders visited Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 ace McCaskey on Saturday night in the L-L quarterfinals, the programs possibly meeting for the first time ever.

Those jitters combined with the Red Tornados' ferocity to hand the hosts a 71-55 victory before a packed house.

Randolph Speller knocked down six 3-pointers en route to a game-high 24 points, and Elco missed its first 11 shots of the game and trailed throughout.

Steve Powell’s Red Tornados (17-5) spin into Tuesday’s semifinals against Conestoga Valley, which bounced Lancaster Catholic in another Saturday quarterfinal. Two-time defending tourney champ Cedar Crest meets Lancaster Mennonite in Tuesday’s other semifinal.

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Elco (19-4), the fifth seed in the upcoming District 3-AAA tournament, hosts defending champ Steel-High in that tournament’s first round on Feb. 16.

Against McCaskey, the Raiders never gave themselves a chance, going scoreless until Dylan Stoops’ layup 5:31 into the game.

By that time, all five Tornado starters had scored, and the McCaskey lead was already double digits (10-0).

“It was never a game tonight. We weren’t competitive,” Conners said. “That was disappointing.”

Elco trailed 17-9 after one quarter and 41-20 at halftime. The team was led by the usual triumvirate – Mason Bossert (4-for-15), Caleb Buchmoyer (5-for-20) and Colton Lawrence (6-for-23) each scored 14 points – but it took too many shots to get those numbers.

Overall, the Raiders shot just 27 percent (19 of 70), including just seven makes in 36 attempts in the first half. They sank nine of 35 3-point attempts overall, with seven of those coming after halftime.

Speller, who drilled at least one triple in each frame, said the plan was to make Elco uncomfortable. And the Raiders were certainly off target at the start, badly missing rushed 3-pointers and even doinking a handful of layups.

“Speed ‘em up and make them put the ball on the floor,” the 5-8 senior said. “That’s it.”

Elco played much better in the second half and sliced to within 14 (66-52) with 2:37 left, but it was too little, too late.

All-state guard Kobe Gantz totaled 16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals for the Tornado.

Ricky Cruz added 13 points and five boards. Izaiah Baratta posted six points, seven boards and three assists, and Greg Nunez contributed four points and seven rebounds. Reserve William Joseph gave solid contributions with six points and five boards.

Lawrence finished with a double-double for Elco, grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Buchmoyer dished out four assists, and Ryan Eshleman added three dimes to his two points and seven rebounds. Bossert also grabbed seven rebounds.

Elco won the rebounding battle 50-41 but lost the turnover edge 10-5. McCaskey shot 38 percent (25 of 65).

“We’re not just satisfied with making leagues,” Conners said. “That was disappointing for me. I felt like we could have played a lot better. Yeah, we didn’t hit our shots, but as a team we could have played a lot better, especially early on. I understand jitters, but I just got a sense that the kids felt they were satisfied. And I wanted to make sure they know that’s not OK.”

Geoff Morrow on Twitter: @RageAgainstGMo

McCaskey 71, Elco 55

Elco (55)

Mason Bossert 4 2-2 14, Caleb Buchmoyer 5 0-0 14, Colton Lawrence 6 2-2 14, Ryan Eshleman 1 0-0 2, Dylan Stoops 1 2-2 4, Ryan Woefling 0 0-0 0, Dawson Smith 0 0-0 0, Joseph Ginder 0 0-0 0, Nathan Beamer 1 2-2 4, Devin Stoops 0 0-0 0, Blake Weary 1 0-0 3, Travis Weaver 0 0-0 0. Totals— 19 8-8 55.

McCaskey (71)

Kobe Gantz 5 6-6 16, Ricky Cruz 5 1-1 13, Izaiah Baratta 3 0-0 6, Gregory Nunez 1 2-2 4, Randolph Speller 8 2-3 24, Jathan Gonzalez 0 0-0 0, Omar Baskerville 0 2-2 2, Deshawn Crosby 0 0-0 0, Skyler Davis 0 0-0 0, William Joseph 3 0-1 6. Totals— 25 13-15 71.

Elco _ 9 _ 11 _ 21 _ 14 _ — _ 55

McCaskey _ 17 _ 24 _ 21 _ 9 _ — _ 71

3-point goals— Elco 9 (Bossert 4, Buchmoyer 4, Weary); McC 8 (Speller 6, Cruz 2).

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