If last season were to be summed up in one phrase for E-Town Basketball after posting a 5-21 overall record, the term would be “learning experience.” Although the record in 2016- 17 was not what everyone was hoping to have in Bear Country, all was certainly not lost last year in Elizabethtown. With a young core of players having gone through the wars of the nightly two month grind that is LL Boys Basketball and with much of the same supporting cast returning from last year’s scrappy ballclub, the hope this season is that the band is able to reunite and produce the same type of hits that have made this one of the most successful basketball programs in the league for the better part of the last decade. Although the final verdict will have yet to be read for some time, the early returns are in and it appears that this group of Bears have proven to be astute students in terms of what they took away from last year’s lessons as the Bears were able to post an impressive 7-1 record in the Spooky Nook Summer League (yes, the sometimes blasphemous term “summer league”) and split a pair of games in last weekend’s Manheim Township Tip Off Tournament, with the Bears scoring 82 points in their victory over Red Land. All of those experiences helped lead into Wednesday night’s home opener against the Dallastown Wildcats.
In the early stages, it appeared that E-Town had picked up right where they left on Saturday as the Bears blitzed their guests almost immediately as junior standout Larry Locker drove baseline and attacked the basket to break the scoring seal just 15 seconds into the contest before the E-Town lead would swell to an 8-0 advantage after an Amos Kollie steal and finish, forcing Dallastown to burn an early timeout to stave off E-Town’s hot start. Although Nike McGlynn was ultimately able to put Dallastown on the board with a follow for the Wildcats’ first points of the evening with 4:20 left in the opening quarter, the Bear advantage only continued to grow as a Larry Locker trifecta put E-Town up by a dozen at 16-4 just one minute later.
And although E-Town would see their dissipate somewhat following a Braden Caldwell jumper from the top of the key which made it a 16-8 ballgame for Dallastown, the hometown Bears were able to push it back up to a ten point advantage when the first quarter clock expired as Locker found himself on the receiving end off two wonderful assists from his teammates for back to back buckets to make it a 20-10 Bear lead after the first eight minutes.
For as much as E-Town dominated the first stanza, Dallastown was able to reverse the narrative in the second quarter. And then some.
Dallastown’s fiery second quarter start was ignited by Will Barton as the Wildcats’ senior guard rattled off six straight points in the blink of an eye to cut E-Town’s once sizeable lead down to just three at 22-19 with 6:40 left in the half.
Inspired by their work on the defensive end, the Wildcats continued to press on. Literally. Dallastown was able to translate their pesky defense into steals and scores throughout the entirety of the second frame. Using that same formula, the Wildcats were able to officially come all the way back following a Max Teyral lay in which gave Dallastown their first lead of the night at 23-22.
Although E-Town would eventually go back in front following a pair of Ryan Parise freebies at the line following a technical foul whistled against Dallastown, the Wildcats stayed on the attack and were rewarded for their efforts. After a Kyle Richardson bucket made it a 27-24 Wildcat lead, D-Town only saw their lead grow from there as an offensive board and putback by senior guard Max Teyral made it a 33-26 lead in favor of the visitors from York County.
In a quarter that was written by the Dallastown defense, it seemed only fitting that their signature highlight of the half was senior center Justin Atwood coming out of a different stratosphere to negate an E-Town shot and block it so hard against the backboard that it could have likely bounced its way back to Dallastown undeterred. Nevertheless, a steal and coast to coast finish by Teyral helped officially put a bow on the first half with Dallastown heading into the intermission leading 39-27. A quarter that Dallastown was able to win 27-7.
Coming out of the break, E-Town’s Dylan Sweger took matters into his own hands. The 6’2” junior responded to Dallastown’s challenge by splashing in two triples to start the second half. But Dallastown continued to keep E-Town at an arm’s length for much of the third frame.
Sophomore starting guard Ryan Parise was able to get the Bears back within single digits following a drive to the rack plus the foul, but the Dallastown lead went back up to ten shortly thereafter following a turnaround jumper from Justin Atwood.
Playing within that window, the Dallastown lead grew to as many as a dozen and shrunk to as few as eight following a pair of free throws by E-Town’s Cade Robinson. But at the end of the quarter however, it was a ten point lead that Dallastown would carry with them into the final quarter following a magnificent dish from Kyle Richardson to Kobe Green inside just before the horn to make it a 56-46 Wildcat lead.
Once the fourth quarter got underway, it appeared that E-Town had regained their footing that they enjoyed in the first quarter of action, inspiring visions of a possible comeback. After a pair of Larry Locker buckets, good for 4 of his game high 22 point outburst, the Bears had trimmed Dallastown’s lead down to just seven at 59-52 with 5:38 still left to play.
The wind would go out of the E-Town sails at least temporarily however following the implementation of a full court extended zone defense from Dallastown which did its job forcing an E-Town turnover, ultimately have it culminate in a Will Barton two-handed flush to make it a 61-52 D-Town cushion with 4:33 left to play.
Unphased, E-Town kept clawing away at the Dallastown lead and after a pair of Parise freebies, E-Town found themselves down just five at 61-56 with an eternity yet to play, but in all reality just 4:10. Dallastown would continue to have an answer for whatever E-Town threw at them as a bucket and foul from Will Barton gave him 2 of his team high 14 points, but more importantly, an increase to Dallastown’s lead at 64-56 with 3:41 left to go.
From there, Dallastown was able to work their delay game like a charm, chewing up precious time all while keeping the ball away from E-Town, and any hopes of a comeback on this night. Couple that with empty trips from E-Town once the Bears did get their mitts on it, and Dallastown went on to close the game out at the foul line and walk away into the snowy night with a 71-62 road win over Elizabethtown.
NEXT UP: With their victory on Wednesday night, the Dallastown Wildcats picked up some key mojo heading into a highly anticipated game with one of the best in all of District 3 regardless of classification, the high-flying Northeastern Bobcats on Friday.
Although it was a disappointing loss for E-Town, especially the way in which the game began, the blessing (and the curse sometimes) of basketball is that the next game is never too far off in the distance. For the Bears, the distance comes into full view on Friday night as the Bears will head east to tangle with one of the preseason favorites in Section 2, the Ephrata Mounts.