Hempfield Grinds Out Tough-Minded Win Over
Manheim Central In Opening Round Of LL Playoffs
Survive and advance. That’s the goal of every team this time
of year. It doesn’t have to be the most aesthetically pleasing
brand of basketball you’ve ever seen, just as long as you
have more points than the other team at the end of the night, that’s
all that truly matters.
For both Hempfield and Manheim Central, Monday night’s opening
round contest looked more like a game of tug of war where a basketball
game broke out with both teams taking turns pulling the rope, but
neither one exerting enough force to where the other team fell down.
With both squads playing primarily in the halfcourt with diligent
offensive sets, possessions were equal to that of precious gold
with empty trips being magnified to the highest degree. After a
back and forth battle that lasted all night, Hempfield ultimately
turned up the defensive intensity which led to critical Baron turnovers
in the waning minutes to give them the fuel to eventually pull away,
despite a herculean effort by MC’s Taylor Funk.
Monday night’s matchup gave the Barons new life after coming
up short in 3 of their last 4, including the Section 2 championship
game last week. Hempfield on the other hand came in as one of the
hottest teams around winning their last 4 coming into the playoffs,
including handing Lebanon their only league loss this season. Early
on however, it would’ve been hard to tell which team was which
as the Barons and Black Knights went blow for blow.
Central’s Taylor Funk and Hempfield’s David Martin-Robinson
carried the load for each of their squads in the early going as
both were responsible for their team’s first 5 points halfway
through the opening quarter. Playing from behind or equal to Hempfield
to that point in the ballgame, Kody Kegarise was able to give the
Barons their first lead of the contest at 7-5 later on in the 1st
as the senior guard earned himself a bucket. The early Central takeover
did nothing to deter Javon Mitchell as the senior point guard for
the Black Knights responded with a triple with just over two minutes
remaining to put Hempfield back on top 8-7 before MC came back with
a free throw to close the quarter with the score tied at 8 apiece.
The start of the second quarter saw Taylor Funk put his hardhat
on and go to work as the Baron big man tallied two buckets inside
for MC to start the quarter which put the Barons up 12-8 with Funk
having his hand in 10 of the 12 MC points with 6:40 remaining in
the opening half. Hempfield would then come back to tie Central
at 12-12 just 1:20 later as Ryan Moffatt converted the stick-back
for the Black Knight bucket. Once again however, Mr. Funk had the
answer with another Baron deuce with Connor Hostetter later firing
from 3 to give MC the 17-12 lead, forcing Hempfield to burn a timeout
Hempfield would be able to get slightly closer to Manheim Central
to close the half as a beautiful out of bounds play led to Bryan
Karl scoring underneath as the Knights trimmed to Baron lead to
17-14 at the break.
Karl would continue to have the hot hand for Hempfield once the
second half got underway as the senior forward tied things up at
17-17 just 20 seconds into the third with a trifecta. From that
point on, it was hard for either team to really get into a rhythm
as whistles continued to disrupt the flow over the new few minutes.
Nevertheless, Ryan Moffatt took matters into his own hands as Hempfield’s
junior guard blazed a path coast to coast and was rewarded with
a trip to the free throw line which he made the most of as he brought
the Knights to within a point at 20-19 with 4:33 left in the quarter
after converting the pair.
Moffatt would later put the Knights in front with a take to the
rack to make it 21-20 Hempfield and Tyler Hilton later increasing
the Hempfield lead to 4 with a knockdown from behind the arc to
make it 24-20 with 1:45 to play in the third.
Just as he did all night, Taylor Funk refused to let MC go away
as his tough 3 point play inside later on in Q3 put the Barons right
on the doorstep heading into the final quarter trailing by just
1 at 24-23.
If there was an MVP award to give out at the end of the night, Hempfield’s
Javon Mitchell would’ve garnered significant attention for
it as the Black Knight floor general made a handful of key plays
down the stretch to help push Hempfield over the top.
His first critical play came when he was able to come down with
the offensive board, keeping possession with Hempfield. The Knights’
trip fittingly ended with Mitchell having the honors as he drained
a 3 ball to put Hempfield up 4 at 27-23. Even after the Mitchell
bucket for Hempfield, they still could not find an answer for Taylor
Funk as #33 for Central answered back with a bucket to trim the
lead back down to 2 with 5:11 left to play.
With the ball in their hands, Hempfield decided to take the air
out of the ball up by a deuce. Once they began to move in their
set, Ryan Moffatt drove to the hole and finished to put the Red
and Black back up by 4. From there, Taylor Funk continued to be
a 6’9” thorn in Hempfield’s side as he fired back
with 5 straight, highlighted by a triple that put the Barons up
by 1 at 30-29 with 2:40 left. On the night, Funk would end up accounting
for nearly 80% of the Baron scoring as he finished with a game high
With time melting away and the momentum clearly on the Manheim sideline,
Hempfield stepped up the defensive intensity and began throwing
traps at Manheim Central in an effort to get the Barons off-kilter
and get them out of their comfort zone. The decision by the Hempfield
brain trust worked like a charm as three critical MC turnovers helped
turn the tide.
After a steal and finish by Ryan Moffatt put Hempfield up 31-30,
the second Baron turnover yielded points yet again as this time
it was Bryan Karl doing the honors to suddenly put the Black Knights
up by 3 at 33-30 with 90 seconds left to go. Central came back down
the floor and tried for the tie, but the Baron 3 point attempt was
halfway down before it ultimately rattled out with Hempfield cleaning
the defensive glass and Tyler Hilton converting a pair on the other
end after he was fouled to put Hempfield up by what seemed like
an insurmountable 5 points very late.
To their credit, Central wasn’t done fighting as MC came right
down the floor and had Kody Kegarise stop and pop from 3 to get
the Barons back within 2 at 35-33 with 35.7 left to go.
After Hempfield was able to get the ball inbounds following the
Kegarise’s bucket, Javon Mitchell had his turn at the stripe
and he made the most of it by knocking down some clutch free throws
to make it a two possession game once again with Hempfield now in
control leading 37-33. The Barons came right back down the floor
and tried to replicate the success they had on their last last possession,
but they were not as successful this time around as Hempfield collected
the defensive board and added to their lead with another free throw
to go back up 5 at 38-33.
Although Central was able to score another two points, Hempfield
was also up to the task as a pair of Ryan Moffatt free throws helped
him earn team high honors with 12 points which put the exclamation
point on a hard-fought effort by both teams with Hempfield prevailing
40-35. With the win on Monday night, Hempfield advanced to take
on Lancaster Catholic in the LL semis at Penn Manor.
Lebanon Punches Ticket To LL Championship Game With 58-49 Win Over
It’s fair to say that it’s been a pretty good season
thus far for the Lebanon Boy’s Basketball team. The Cedars
rolled through the Section 1 gauntlet with just one hiccup along
the way coming to an always tough Hempfield bunch. With just one
league loss, Lebannon was able to lay claim to the Section title
and a first round bye in the upcoming District 3 6A tournament,
all while riding a 20 win season. Even with this year’s success,
the first game of the postseason proved that you better come and
bring it every game in the postseason no matter who you are if you
want to stick around. After navigating some choppy waters on Monday
night against a very game Ephrata squad that pushed the Cedars to
their limit, Lebanon came out on top and found themselves just one
step away from trophies and medals, but not before they had to get
past the Section 3 champion Lancaster Mennonite in the LL Semifinals
at nearby Cedar Crest.
While Lebanon took care of business with the teams on their block
this year, the Blazers were even more dominant against their fellow
Section foes as Mennonite went wire to wire through Section 3 to
claim the crown. If there was one thing that could have been predicted
before tipoff on Wednesday night, it was that Lancaster Mennonite
would not be phased by the bright lights and big stage on the league
semis. The Blazers themselves are no strangers to big games come
postseason. Just last year in the LL semis, Mennonite had the ball
in their hands at the end of the game with the chance to knock off
Cedar Crest. Although LMH fell just short that night at Warwick
last February, the Blazers ultimately regrouped and turned it right
around in the District playoffs earning a trip to the Giant Center
opposite of the eventual District champ Trinity in the District
semis, where the Blazers came up just short in overtime.
After 32 minutes in Cornwall however, the Blazers’ opportunity
to finally get past another semifinal hurdle would have to wait
another day as Lebanon looked to be a mission playing with the lead
nearly the entire way, turning away Lancaster Mennonite 59-48.
Lebanon’s Camryn Shaak and Shaq Ortiz were able to score the
first 5 points of the ballgame for the Cedars before Mennonite came
to tie things up at 5-5 following Johnathon Gillespie’s bucket
from 3. After the initial draw, Lebanon began to play with a 4 point
cushion as the opening quarter went along with Luis Aquino-Rios
hitting a floater to make it 10-6 before Khalique Washington did
his work early, sealing off his man inside, for the easy Cedar bucket
to make the score 12-8.
Lebanon would later up their lead to half a dozen when Aquino-Rios
dished it off inside to Felix Kortright-Roman to put things at 14-8,
but Mennonite came right down the floor and got it back to within
4 with a Cole Forte spot up jumper along the baseline for the Blazers
with 1:30 to go in the first. Lebanon would later tack on another
point from the line inside the last 90 seconds to head into the
second quarter with the 15-10 lead.
After a Dante Vargas bucket got things going early on in the second
quarter for Lebanon to put the Cedars up by a touchdown at 17-10,
Mennonite came roaring back with a 6-0 run to get back within 1
at 17-16 after a Timmy Stefanosky bucket and a pair of hoops from
That would turn out to be the closest Mennonite would get the rest
of the night. After LMH was able to flirt with the lead, Lebanon
senior guard Dante Vargas was there to slam the door as the Cedar
marksman fired off 4 treys to close the half, accounting for 5 total
in the first half, to send Lebanon into the break with the 31-25
The Cedars came out on a torrid start to start the second half as
well. Luis Aquino-Rios pumped in the first 4 for Lebanon to get
things going before Mennonite’s Richie Rosas put a stop to
the Lebanon blitz with a trey to get LMH back within single digits
at 35-28 with 1:20 gone by in the third. Lebanon was then able to
get back over the 10 point hill as a two free throws from Aquino-Rios
followed an earlier pair from Shaq Ortiz as Lebanon made it 41-30.
The Cedars were then able to get back to scoring from the field
as a Khalique Washington deuce inside swelled the Cedar lead to
13 at 43-30.
Just as he had in Q2, Dante Vargas was there to put the capper on
this quarter as well as the senior guard for the Cedars who led
all scorers with 24, finished off a scoop shot at the tin to put
Lebanon up 45-34 heading into the fourth.
The Cedars only improved upon their lead as the final frame got
underway. A Khalique Washington dime to Aquino-Rios put the Cedars
up by 14 with just 1:30 having gone off the fourth quarter clock
before a Sabu Pereyra follow off of a missed Cedar shot put Lebanon
up 52-36, now inside the 4 minute mark.
Mennonite was then able to claw back to 12 after a Javan Terry hoop
inside, but Lebanon was able to pull away via the foul line down
the final furlong to prevail 59-48 and clinch a berth in the LL
finals against Lancaster Catholic.
Worth The Wait.
Lancaster Catholic Defeats
Lebanon For First LL Championship Since 2003.
The banners hanging inside gyms tell stories. Sure, they may appear
to have the façade of nothing more than a year gone by on
the calendar but that would be doing them a great disservice. These
proud pieces of shall we say interior décor, help spark the
memories that inspire the tall tales of great teams and players
gone by. Walk into any gym within the Lancaster Lebanon League and
it really is no different.
On one hand you might walk into the gym on the corner Juliette and
Frances in Lancaster city, look up and see the year 2003 bathed
in purple and yellow and remember a team that was the undisputed
state champion going 35-0. A team that to this day keeps the names
of Testa, Purvis, and Shedleski just as prevalent around the Red
Rose city as they were nearly 15 years ago.
Head northward to the Cedars’ house and you’ll see the
year 1978 displayed proudly and remember that time when a junior
big man took an entire community on a ride all the way to the state
finals. A big man that was so talented, he was selected in front
of the one referred to as “The Greatest of All Time”
in the NBA Draft.
Needless to say, Lancaster Catholic and Lebanon both have storied
histories on the hardwood. Although we have a long ways to go as
far as seeing the exploits of the 2017 Cedar and Crusader squads
during the state tournament, the tie that binds this year’s
teams with those historic squads referenced above is that they were
both able to call themselves league champions.
Despite all their previous successes, both have been without an
LL championship for quite some time. For the Crusaders, LL glory
last came from the aforementioned 2003 team, with Lebanon ironically
following suit with their last title coming in 2004. Someone’s
drought would finally come to an end on Friday night at Manheim
Township when Lancaster Catholic and Lebanon took to the court to
see who was deserving of the right to have their own story displayed
on a banner for all time. As it turned it out, both sides will remember
this one for a long, long time.
Lebanon and Lancaster Catholic started the game off trading buckets
with one another as the Cedars and Crusaders found themselves tied
at 4-4 following a Chad Wenger drive for Catholic that knotted things
up. From that point on however, Catholic mounted a charge as a Sean
Landis hoop inside gave Catholic the 6-4 lead before Mark Cannon
fired off 4 straight for the Crusader crew as LC saw their lead
grow to 10-6 at the 3 minute mark of the opening quarter.
With Lebanon trying to go back to their bread and butter of the
outside shooting game, the Cedars were coming up with neither bread
nor butter as they were chilly from behind the arc. Given the opposition’s
cold shooting, Catholic needed to pounce and they did just that
as another Sean Landis deuce inside put Catholic up by a half dozen
at 12-6 with just under a minute to go in the first. Camryn Shaak,
arguably the best 3 point shooter in the LL this season, was then
able to slice LC’s lead in half with a trey before the first
clock expired with the score showing Catholic on top 12-9.
Lebanon was faced with some tough-sledding in the opening stages
of the second quarter as Lancaster Catholic’s was more than
pesky defensively with active hands getting deflections and steals.
Not to be overlooked was their strong presence inside as the Crusaders
lived large in the paint to start the contest with numerous hoops
in the paint, along with a strong performance on the glass. Even
with that said, Lebanon remained undeterred and kept grinding away
as they were able it to within 1 at 14-13 courtesy of a Dante Vargas
3 in transition with 5:43 to go in the half which forced Catholic
to burn a timeout to halt the Cedar momentum.
Out of the timeout, an impromptu 3 point shooting contest ensued.
First it was Chad Wenger knocking it down from deep to put Catholic
back up 4, but not to be outdone, Shaak got loose again and he made
the Crusaders pay with a big time trey to answer back to get Lebanon
back within a point.
Remember that frigid Lebanon shooting that took place in the early
going? Well that storyline appeared to go out the window as Shaq
Ortiz took his turn with the long range shooting game and came up
cash to put the Cedars up at 19-17 with 4:30 to go in the half.
Lancaster Catholic would later go on to retake the lead by way of
a 5-0 run to close the half as a 3 ball from Danny Bomberger and
a bucket underneath by Sean Landis accounted for the scoring with
the Crusaders in possession of the 24-21 lead when play resumed.
Catholic would see their lead grow to 5 once the second half got
underway thanks to a pair of Chad Wenger freebies from the stripe
made it 28-23 Catholic with 1:30 having gone off the clock. It was
time for someone from Lebanon to step up to the plate. Calling Khalique
The Cedar big man ripped off six straight points for Lebanon with
the last coming off a beautiful penetrate and pitch from Shaq Ortiz,
as a deafening roar came from the Cedar faithful with their team
now leading 29-28 before Ortiz himself got in the scoring mix with
a field goal to give Lebanon the 3 point bulge at 31-28. Now, it
was time to call Noah Thomas to center stage.
With the game seemingly at a tipping point, the 6’4”
senior checked into the game and delivered extremely valuable minutes.
With 3 minutes left on the third quarter clock, Thomas tallied a
bucket inside to cut into Lebanon’s lead and then followed
it up by erasing a Cedar shot on the other end. The resulting possession
that came from Thomas’ rejection was a pair of Sean Landis
free throws, but Thomas was not done making his imprint on the game.
The next time down the floor defensively, Thomas bravely gave himself
up for the charge which now saw momentum wearing purple.
The two teams would go on to trade the lead via free throws with
Catholic leading by the slimmest of margins at 34-33 when the third
quarter finally came to a conclusion.
After a Miles McCaskey steal and finish put the Crusaders up by
3 with 6:23 to play, Lebanon refused to go away and later took the
lead back after a Khalique Washington offensive stick-back to put
the Cedars up by a bucket at 38-36. It was then Lancaster Catholic’s
time to rally as LC used two gigantic 3s from the senior guard tandem
of Mark Cannon and Chad Wenger to regain the lead at 42-38, forcing
Lebanon to call time.
Out of the Cedar timeout, Shaq Ortiz attacked the basket and came
with a big bucket in his own right as his deuce chopped Catholic’s
lead in half to 42-40. Undaunted by playing in front of what felt
like a partisan Cedar crowd, Catholic fearlessly answered back with
two big time free throws from Miles McCaskey, coupled with a Jon
Ware to Sean Landis feed inside to put the Crusaders up by 6 at
Needing to respond to the late Crusader charge, Khalique Washington,
who was more or less dared to shoot from beyond the foul line by
the sagging Catholic defense all night, took the challenge to heart
and capitalized with an enormous 3 in the corner to keep the Cedars
in it at 46-43 with 1:51 to go.
Nearly 50 seconds later, Lebanon got back to with a point when Ortiz
again scored inside to make it 46-45 Crusaders, before Luis Aquino-Rios
toed the stripe and became Mr. Clutch by sinking two go-ahead free
throws to put the Cedars up 47-46.
In a championship game that had certainly lived up to the billing
to that point, it seemed only fitting that late game heroics were
still on the horizon. With the Cedars now in control of the scoreboard,
Catholic absolutely, positively needed to score with time of the
essence. Time to bring someone else to the stage. Calling Sean Landis.
The 6’5” Crusader big man was a force inside all night
for Catholic and luckily for the fans who traveled up 501, their
senior leader still had time for one last bucket in the lane to
put the Crusaders up inside of a minute, with LC now so close to
the gold they could taste it.
Lebanon came down and was patient getting into their offensive set,
but when they tried to get something started with under 10 seconds,
the ball was poked away ultimately rolling into the mitts of Sean
Landis who was fouled and sent to the line with just 1.5 left to
go. After going 1-2, Lebanon called time and had time for one last
heave. Even though Catholic put a defender on the ball, Lebanon
was able to get it inbounded, but their last second heave from the
timeline bounced off the top of the backboard which signaled the
start of a celebration 14 years in the making as Lancaster Catholic
had once again reached the summit of Lancaster Lebanon League basketball
by virtue of a dramatic 49-47 battle between two fantastic teams.
This Week’s Starting Five
Khalique Washington (Lebanon)
Taylor Funk (Manheim Central)
Noah Thomas (Lancaster Catholic)
Javon Mitchell (Hempfield)
Dante Vargas (Lebanon)