BERKS CATHOLIC CLAIMS ANOTHER DISTRICT THREE HOOPS TITLE

Back in November in Hershey the Berks Catholic boys faced off with the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders in football.  The Saints put forth a dominating performance and came away with a District Three title.  Fast forward to March, and it was Deja vu all over again.   Berks Catholic met Bishop McDevitt for the District Three 4A basketball title.  Once again in dominating fashion Berks Catholic came away with a decisive win 46-26 win over Bishop McDevitt.

Luis Garcia battled his way for a game high 14 points for Berks Catholic.  Keba Mitchell was also outstanding again on both ends of the floor for the Saints.

BC pulled out early and never looked back  McDevitt never led in the game.  After one BC held a 13-4 lead  The Saints were in control at the half 23-12.

BC started the 2nd half strong. The Saints extended the lead to 14 halfway through the quarter and were up 13 heading to the fourth. McDevitt could never get any offensive rhythm due in large part to an excellent defensive effort by BC. It was coronation time down the stretch The Saints marched off with a District Three 4A title and huge momentum heading into the state tourney.

 

 

 

 

Scores/Schedule: Feb 26- March 3… In progress

District 3

Wednesday 2/28

4A
(5th Place Win Or Go Home Game) Northern Lebanon 42 Lancaster Catholic 57

5A
(5th Place Game) L-S 52 Hershey 64
 (7th Place Game) Garden Spot 67 Greencastle-Antrim 77

Thursday 3/1
6A (3rd Place Game) Manheim Township 53 Hempfield 67

 


Monday 2/26

3A
 (3rd place game): Lancaster Mennonite 59 Steel High 60

4A
 (Consolation Semis): Lancaster Catholic 64 Littlestown 49
(Consolation Semis): Northern Lebanon 62 Boiling Springs 54

5A
(Consolation Semis): L-S 62 Garden Spot 53
 (9th Place Bracket): Ephrata 37  Shippensburg 53

 

Tuesday 2/27
6A
Hempfield 35 Chambersburg 52
Manheim Township 49 Reading 57
Cedar Crest 46 Dallastown 62

Lancaster Catholic Ascends Past Northern Lebanon To Clinch PIAA-4A State Tournament Berth

If one were to hit the rewind button back to just a few weeks ago when talking about the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders, it would have certainly appeared that this year’s talented squad was on a bee-line to match the impressive achievements that were obtained by their brethren from a year ago that included an L-L League championship and subsequent District 3 4A championship.

But just then, adversity struck.

When Catholic entered this year’s L-L League tournament, odds appeared high the Crusaders would have another solid shot to make it to Township for the Friday night finale with the opportunity to bring home some gold medals to the school in the Rossmere neighborhood for the second consecutive year.

And for good reason.

Lancaster Catholic came into the league playoffs boasting an impressive resume that included a remarkable stretch of games that was highlighted by the Crusaders winning 17 of their last 18, before going on to add two more against Garden Spot and Ephrata respectively once inside the league tourney bracket before making good on that aforementioned Friday night trip to Manheim Township where the Crusaders would take center stage opposite of what was considered by most to be the best team in the entire league, the L-S Pioneers.

And while Catholic would continue to fight throughout the entirety of the title bout, it was simply not enough as the Pioneers played with a determined effort to make history, which they were able to do as L-S laid claim to their first ever league title crown by besting the Crusaders 50-40.

From there, Catholic was forced to right the ship when they hit the court next against an always-tough Bishop McDevitt squad in the first round of District 3 tournament action. But unfortunately, Lancaster Catholic would see a finale to that tournament much too soon as well as the Crusaders from Harrisburg were able to knock off the Crusaders from Lancaster by a 47-43 decision.

“To McDevitt’s credit, they did some good things that sort of put us on our heels a little bit,” Lancaster Catholic head coach Joe Klazas said rehashing last week’s early round setback. “(Bishop McDevitt) changed some defenses up and we weren’t as aggressive as we’d like to be on a normal basis,” the head Crusader went on to add. “They also made some big shots in that game too. If we hard to chart them, they were probably ones that we’d want them to shoot but they made some tough ones there.”

Fortunately for Catholic however, the Crusaders were able to use their impressive resume to their advantage by earning the opportunity to continue on by playing in a series of consolation games before having everything come to a head against an old foe in fellow Section 3 ‘mate Northern Lebanon on Wednesday night at Warwick. A team that likely didn’t give the Crusaders the fuzziest of feelings to see in their bracket heading into the midweek.

Hopefully that rewind button isn’t worn out too much, but go ahead and click it again so you transport yourself back in time to the night of January 30th at Northern Lebanon. As many are already well aware, that was the night where Lancaster Catholic made the trip north to tangle with the home-standing Vikings in a Section 3 game that will likely go down as one of, if not the most discussed outcome of this year’s basketball season, as a late Johnny Besecker corner buzzer beater sent the Crusaders home with the 55-54 triumph, completing the regular season sweep of Northern Lebanon.

Although to make a long story short, if a random sample poll around the community of Fredericksburg were to be taken today, chances are you’d likely receive a much different reaction as to whether that shot truly did beat the buzzer or not. But we’ll just leave it at that.

And so, the two old competitors laced it for the third and final time this season against one another with the stakes set at the greatest of magnitudes—The winner advancing on to next week’s state tournament with the loser having to make plans to hand in the uniforms while getting a leg up on the spring sports scene.

However if one thing quickly became obvious during the first few minutes of the ballgame, it was that Lancaster Catholic’s David Kamwanga had no plans of having his sophomore season be cut short.

In fact it didn’t take the Crusaders’ 6’6” human pogo-stick long to assert himself as Kamwanga was able to stroke home a gorgeous spot up jumper along the baseline to give the Crusaders the early 2-0 advantage on Catholic’s first offensive trip.

However Northern Lebanon quickly soon discovered that Kamwanga had arrived with bad intentions on the defensive end as well as Catholic’s always-improving big man was able to swat away the Vikings’ first shot attempt of the ballgame, effectively setting the tone for the rest of the night.

And although NL’s Josh Bowers was able to break the scoring seal for the Vikings with a triple which gave his team the lead at 3-2 just 1:15 into the contest, Kamwanga continued to be a nearly 7 foot thorn in Northern Lebanon’s side over the next few minutes as he proceeded to chip in the next four Catholic points as well, as David Kamwanga was leading Northern Lebanon 6-5 at the 4:35 mark of the opening period.

From there, Johnny Besecker was able to get loose against the Northern Lebanon defense from behind the arc once again, as the 5’11” junior guard got himself into the scorebook with one of his trademark triples which improved Catholic’s lead to 9-5 shortly thereafter.

But much in the same vein that David Kamwanga had proven himself to be a problem for Northern Lebanon in the early stages of the first quarter, NL’s Alex Yeager was able to fill that very same role in the waning stages of the first frame as the Vikings’ ultra-talented guard ripped off his own personal 5-0 run to close things out, including a corner 3 ball just before the first quarter horn which gave Northern Lebanon the 12-11 lead after the conclusion of the opening eight minutes.

Despite the fact that Lancaster Catholic had traded volleys with their counterparts from up north throughout the majority of the first quarter, the Crusaders came out of the break in between quarters with a renewed sense of energy and focus. Traits that clearly knocked NL back on their heels once the second quarter got underway.

Aided by a 4-0 salvo that took place over the opening minute of the second stanza, the Catholic run would eventually culminate in an 8-0 charge to open the quarter as the Crusaders’ do-everything man RJ Van Tash was able to author the last four of the Crusader flurry to put Catholic up by a touchdown at 19-12 with Northern Lebanon frantically searching for answers.

Fortunately for the Vikings, they would not have to look far as Alex Yeager was able to rise and fire from behind the arc, giving Northern Lebanon their first points of the quarter nearly halfway in, trimming Catholic’s lead to 19-15.

Yet even though the Vikes were able to claw back to within four following the Yeager bomb from bonus distance, Johnny Besecker continued to show off his hot-shooting touch by knocking down his third triple of the half which extended the Lancaster Catholic lead out to nine at 26-17 with 1:30 left to go in the half.

With the Crusaders’ lead flirting with double digit sized proportions and time in the opening half quickly winding down, Catholic’s Miles McCaskey was able to help make good pushing the advantage over the 10 point bulge as the 5’10” senior guard put home a pretty floater in the lane just before the second quarter buzzer which sent Catholic into the break with the 30-19 advantage.

Coming out of the locker room, it was clear that Lancaster Catholic had one goal in mind: Finish this one out in style.

It certainly appeared that things were headed in that very direction when RJ Van Tash got loose along the baseline for a sweet knock down jumper which upped the Catholic lead to 34-20 with 5:40 left in the third.

And although Alex Yeager was able to answer with a pretty step-back trifecta of his own that cut Catholic’s lead down to 11 at 34-23, the Crusaders answered back with a vengeance as a Van Tash bucket at the tin put the finishing touches on a 6-0 Crusader march, forcing NL to call timeout and regroup now staring at a 40-23 deficit with just 3:13 left in the quarter.

But unfortunately for those that had made the trip south to Lititz, the hole would only continue to grow deeper from there as an Andrew Miklos bucket near the one minute mark of the third quarter gave Catholic the 20 point cushion at 46-26 before the third quarter clock would eventually expire with Lancaster Catholic holding serve with the 46-27 advantage.

Yet even though it appeared that Catholic was well on their way to clinching that state tournament berth that was hanging in balance at the start of this one, the final period was not without it’s fair share of highlights for the Vikings.

Never was that on display more than with Henry Hubbard’s triple with 6:45 left to play which cut the Catholic lead down to 47-32, giving the senior guard one last rightful hurrah with time winding down.

And when speaking of this year’s Northern Lebanon senior class, it is absolutely impossible to do so without highlighting the accomplishments of Caleb Light as the 5’11” tough-as-nails point guard proved himself to be a reliable option most every night for the Vikings’ effort, ending his career with a pair of free throws from the charity stripe which helped close things out as Lancaster Catholic was able to march on next week’s PIAA Tournament by virtue of their 57-42 victory over Northern Lebanon on Wednesday night.

While every team begins the year with the goal of making it to the dance of all dances in the state tournament, it’s easy to see that while even in his 13th year presiding over the Crusader bench, Coach Klazas is as excited as ever for this group to have the rightful opportunity to chase down their dreams.

“Just to make the (PIAA) tournament is a great thing,” Klazas said in the glow following his team’s triumph Wednesday evening. “We’ll spend the week to try and figure out what we can do to be able to compete there,” the Crusader boss went on to say before summing it all up matter of factly by saying, “The great thing with the state tournament is that you’ve got to do a lot of homework.”

NEXT UP: With their victory over Northern Lebanon, Lancaster Catholic moves on with the right to play next Friday night when the Crusaders will be shipped out West, somewhere likely near the Altoona area, to match up with District 6 champion Huntingdon to tip off the PIAA 4A state bracket.

For Northern Lebanon, Wednesday night unfortunately marked the end of the season while also marking the end of the line for some pretty remarkable Viking careers as well.

A group that will not soon be forgotten by third year Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George.

“Obviously we had a really nice season,” Coach George said in the immediate aftermath following his team’s final battle of the year. “You focus on the positives from this year and you certainly do not want to talk about the negatives from this game,” George said revisiting the postgame message he delivered to his troops.

“We did some things that never happened in school history with 17 wins and two district wins,” the Viking head man added while continuing to reflect on the year that was. “I really thought that for the most part, we showed really well in the playoffs,” he went on to say. “A lot of times you get a Section 3 team that rolls into leagues and they just get run over, but I thought we showed really well against Hempfield. I think against Berks Catholic we showed really well in that stretch where we were up so you know, I’m proud of them.”

And with plenty of experience having been in this same familiar spot during his previous coaching gigs, Coach George knew that the longer this season lasted, the more painful the ending would be should it come up short.

“I’ve been here now three times to states and a couple of times to districts with my other teams, you tell them ‘The further you get, the tougher it’s gonna be.’ Unless you’re one of the six teams that wins the state title, it’s always going to end in heartbreak.”

And although Northern Lebanon will have to start anew next season with a team next year that will look drastically different when compared to this year’s team which says goodbye to a laundry list of household senior names that leave the program in a much better place than which they found it, the up and coming cast of Vikings ballers certainly has the model blueprint of which to follow left behind to them by this year’s remarkable graduating class.

Powerful Second Half Performance Propels Reading Past Manheim Township Into District 3-6A Title Game

In sports, or really just in life in general, there truly is only one way to go about attacking a giant challenge set forth in front of you. Metaphorically speaking here of course, you can’t exactly tippy-toe into the lion’s den. Instead, you have to go in full-steam ahead, throwing caution to the wind, all while carrying a big stick to help take down the beast. And while Manheim Township was not exactly faced with such a literal, dangerous example on Tuesday night inside the Giant Center, the basketball challenge that was presented to the Blue Streaks was no less daunting to say the least.

Make no mistake about it, Township’s road to the District 3-6A semifinal round was not without it’s fair share of potholes that could have easily thrown the Streaks off course. Yet through it all, Township was able to hold steady, snatching up key victories along the way that could have done nothing but improve their overall mental makeup.

After a somewhat surprising opening round exit from the L-L League tournament at the hands of Garden Spot, the Streaks were faced with the challenge of bouncing back in quick order as MT would go on to enter the District 3 bracket as the #5 seed with an opening round tester against the Buckskins of Conestoga Valley. A fellow Section 1 outfit that was able to top the Blue Streaks in the last meeting between the two back on January 18th at CV with the Bucks pulling out a nail-biting 59-56 decision.

Once the Streaks were able to take care of business and hold off the Bucks 52-39 in the opening round of district play, Manheim Township was faced with the somewhat unenviable task of squaring off with yet another Section 1 opponent, this time with Cedar Crest Falcons who were likely salivating for another chance at the Streaks after MT was able to roll into the famed “Cage” in Cornwall earlier in the season and come away with a 77-71 victory. A triumph that would serve notice to rest of Section 1 and the rest of the league for that matter that these young Blue Streaks were growing up right before our very eyes.

And this past Friday night only proved to be yet another step in MT’s maturation process as the Streaks were able to complete the season sweep on the road at Cedar Crest, besting the home-standing Falcons 67-59 to earn the right to take their shot at a Pennsylvania goliath.

By now, odds are high that you already know the story and significance behind the date of March 25, 2017 as it relates to Reading High basketball. That after all was the night when the Red Knights were able to capture that elusive first title in school history, taking down Pine Richland 64-60 in front of a capacity crowd. It was indeed an enthusiastic environment to say the least that could only be described as the night where the Giant Center had transformed itself into “Geigle West.”

And while that night will always and forever live on in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to be a part of it, it was certainly understandable as to why the Red Knights would have nothing but good memories walking back into that very building for the first time since that historic late March night.

Even still, Reading head coach Rick Perez was not about to have this 2017-18 team be labeled with some sort of “leftover” tag, but rather making sure this year’s bunch was acknowledged for deserving the opportunity to write their own history inside the beautiful arena that every District 3 player wishes to play in at some point during in their career. After all, it’s simply too hard not to appreciate and recognize the diligence, moxie and mental fortitude that goes along with following up a state title by going wire to wire as the #1 seed in District 3’s largest classification throughout the entire season, all while trying to fill the shoes of some of the best players to have ever suited up in the prestigious Red Knight uniform.

“I try not to create any external anxiety or anything like that,” Coach Perez in regards to stepping back into the Giant Center for the first time since that historic night. “You appreciate the day for what it is. We know what it is. I don’t need to mention it or harp on it with them.”

“We just appreciate being here today with this group,” Perez continued. “I want them to seize the moment…The state championship is a beautiful thing. We’ve got the rings and the t-shirts that will hopefully fit us forever if we stay in shape,” he went on to say with a chuckle. “We have to move forward and I think this team has been able to do that.”

One thing quickly became apparent once Tuesday night’s affair got underway. That being that the Blue Streaks were not simply here to be a footnote. They had arrived to play ball with the best in the area.

Aided by a strong start defensively which limited the Red Knights to several one and done opportunities to begin the contest, Township’s Brendan Mellott was able to give the Streaks the first points of the ballgame with a smooth pullup jumper 2:30 into the game.

But just as solid teams left standing at this point in the season are able to do, the Red Knights would have an immediate answer as a sweet step-back jumper popped home by 6’2” senior guard Xavier Starks of Reading knotted things up at 2-2 as both squads were starting to come to grips with all the emotions and physical surroundings that go along with playing on Pennsylvania’s grandest basketball stage.

And although Township was able to get just a little bit of breathing room at 6-2 following a bucket inside Mellott, Reading was able to counter back a few more buckets of their own to get within one of the Streaks at 8-7 with the game nearing the two minute mark of the opening period.

From there however, the Streaks truly started to ascend.

Aided by a quick 4-0 spurt by Tyler Crespo, Manheim Township’s 5’9” junior who only gets better and better with each passing game that he plays, the Blue Streaks were able to look up at large, overhanging scoreboard stationed directly above center court to see that they had suddenly laid claim to a six point lead at 14-8 with roughly one minute left in the quarter.

Yet Township would be able to continue on building their lead from there as a tough hoop inside by 6’3” sophomore Zach Oldac allowed the Streaks to double up the defending state champs by a 16-8 margin before the quarter would eventually expire with MT in front 17-10.

Once the second quarter commenced, it had appeared that Manheim Township would have an entirely different Reading team to deal with as the Red Knights came out the respite in between quarters with an inspired effort in the face of their early hole.

Never more was that on display than with RJ Dixon’s trifecta at the outset of the second stanza that could have easily become an “uh oh” moment for the Blue Streaks.

But as mentioned previously, these Streaks simply would not wilt in the face of adversity. Instead, Township was able to answer back with a Reece Sachs’ triple as the 5’9” senior guard was able to answer the Dixon bucket, calming the seas for MT in the early stages of quarter two.

However Township was able to do better than simply just answering Reading over the course of the next several minutes. They were able to push Reading away.

Aided by an impressive display of work from a host of Streaks inside the painted area throughout the entirety of the first half, yet another bunny from close range, this one cashed in by Brendan Mellott, put the Streaks up 24-15 with the Red Knights having to call timeout with 4:36 left in the first half.

Yet the Township lead only grew to double digit proportions following the second quarter Red Knight timeout as a Zach Oldac bucket, yet again inside, had the Streaks feeling anything but Blue as the MT lead swelled to 26-15 at the four minute mark of the half.

With his team needing some sort of a spark to help engineer a comeback that would hinder Manheim Township from feeling as comfortable as they currently were, Reading gave the ball and the keys to 5’11” junior guard Wesley Butler to take over the show. And as fate would have it, Butler knew exactly what to do when the opportunity presented itself.

As Township continued to play on throughout the latter stages of the first half with a lead that hovered right around the eight point window, Wesley Butler helped take Reading into the halftime break on his back as Butler was able to rattle off a much-needed late-half flurry that was capped off with a gorgeous jumper just before the horn. And although Township went into the break in possession of the 30-26 advantage, the overwhelming consensus inside the mammoth arena setting was one that an entirely different Red Knight would return to the floor for the final 16 minutes.

There was just one problem. No one had run that idea by Manheim Township.

In fact, Township wasted little time to get back into the swing of things following the intermission as Tyler Crespo dialed one up from bonus distance to start the second half, good for 3 of his team-high 15 points on the evening.

From there, the Blue Streaks would continue to play with the lead as a pair of Hilton Ridley freebies from the charity stripe increased the Township lead to five at 36-31 with the third period quickly approaching it’s midway point.

And right on cue, Reading knew that it was precisely the exact time to go about exerting their will.

All game long, Wesley Butler had proven himself to be Reading’s MVP with the rock in his hands, playing with the heart of a lion. And while he primarily did his damage by scoring with consistent acrobatic finishes in amongst the tall Township trees, his late third quarter assist to Bobby Heath proved to be one of Mr. Butler’s biggest plays of the evening.

“Wesley is experienced on this floor,” Coach Perez said glowingly of the Red Knights’ floor general afterward. “The sense of urgency really kicked in when it wasn’t for us in the beginning unfortunately but you go through these situations for a reason,” the Reading head man went on to say. “Wesley was the catalyst. He got things going offensively.”

Providing a spark which in turn spurred on his fellow Red Knights.

“Guys like Bobby Heath and Xavier Starks had an awesome defensive game here today. Once one guy gets going, what’s important is our program is not just who’s leading, but who are the followers?”

And right on cue with his team trailing 36-33 with the clock hovering near the three minute mark of the third, Reading’s diminutive but feisty 5’11” junior point guard was able to penetrate through the lane and kick it out to Heath standing all by his lonesome on the wing as the 5’10” senior was able to tie the game up at 36-36 off the sweet Butler dish leading to the trifecta.

Fittingly, Butler would continue to play with great ferociousness by popping a J shortly thereafter to give the Red Knights their first lead of the ballgame at 38-36 with two minutes left to play in the third.

But Butler would not be finished with his stellar third quarter play as Reading’s sensational point guard was able to tally one more bucket before the third quarter horn which helped send Reading into the final eight minutes in possession of the 42-39 lead.

Yet once again, Manheim Township would continue to be unphased by the locomotion of Reading momentum that was charging hard in their direction. Never more was that on display than with Tyler Crespo being able to hustle down a loose carom, collecting the offensive rebound and proceeding to rise and fire from behind the arc, slicing Reading’s lead down to 44-42 with a critical 3 ball with 6:30 left to play.

But MT would only continue to hang around and pester the Red Knights before a gigantic take to the cup by 6’0” senior forward Larry Wingo improved Reading’s lead to 49-45 with just over three minutes left to play.

The Blue Streak deficit would then continue to remain at four following a successful trip to the line by MT’s Hilton Ridley as the 6’2” junior guard was able to knock down both of his attempts, making it a 51-47 ballgame with just over three minutes left to go.

But unfortunately for those that had made the trip north from Neffsville, that would prove to be all the closer their beloved Blue Streaks would get for the remainder of the night as empty trips besmirched Township late with Reading offering no relief at the other end with sensational free throw shooting down the stretch to help close things out as the Red Knights were able to advance on the District 3 6A final, dispatching a Manheim Township team that very likely could end up in Hershey yet again next season, 57-49 on Tuesday night at Giant Center.

Without question, the 2016-17 Reading Red Knights Boys’ Basketball team will likely forever go down in history as the best to ever do it at the “Castle on the Hill.” However in an interesting twist of irony, the 2017-18 bunch has the opportunity on Saturday afternoon to accomplish something that their historic predecessors were not able to accomplish—bringing home a District title trophy. It’s an achievement that is certainly not lost on Red Knight head man Rick Perez.

“I’m proud of them,” Perez said proudly regarding this year’s team. “They seized the moment. They’ve been here before and they’ve learned from some great people. This is their opportunity and Saturday is their day. I just hope that we can come out and put forth the best effort.”

NEXT UP: As mentioned, Reading will now have prepare for a very impressive Chambersburg ball club in the title fight on Saturday afternoon. It’s a Trojan crew that likely will be geared up and ready to compete given the fact that Chambersburg has already knocked off last year’s finalists in Harrisburg and Hempfield on their road to Saturday.

For Township, the Streaks must now regroup and refocus for a Thursday night tussle with a longtime rival Hempfield in the District 3-6A Third Place Game which will go a long way in determining possible roadtrips or lack thereof for the upcoming PIAA state tournament which gets underway next weekend.

Yet even in defeat late Tuesday night, Manheim Township head man Matt Johns was able to come away with some positives from the game given the fight he saw out of his Blue Streaks.

“You never know,” Johns said in regards to how his team would exactly handle bright lights and big stage that just so happened to go along with the opportunity to knock off the defending state champs in a playoff setting. “(Reading) has been here in this situation a ton of times…You never know what’s going to happen when the lights are on and it’s an 8:30 game and they’ve had all day to think about it.”

“That’s the beauty and the curse of basketball,” Johns went on to add. “You don’t know what’s going to happen when you go out there. So the fact that we stepped up to that moment, came out and went toe-to-toe with them, I’m really pleased.”

Chambersburg 52 Hempfield 35 6A/ Podcast-wrap

Chambersburg ran away from the Knights with a 19-6 fourth quarter.

Stat of the night: Hempfield shot 5/23 in the second half.

The score was tied at 22 at half. Cburgs Joel Torres ( I believe he had 21 for the game) put on a display with post moves, drives and 3 balls.

Check out Bruce Badgleys (@BadgleyBruce) twitter for videos…

Soundcloud interview with Coach Walck.

Dell’s wrap- soundcloud

Audio wrap to follow later.