PHILLY TEAMS RULE HOOP GROUP READING CLASSIC

I broke the seal on the #berksbeat for LLHoops with a double header in the Hoop Group Reading Classic at Albright College Friday night.  The Classic was a matchup of marquee Philly and Reading high schools.  St. Joe Prep handled Berks Catholic 48-25 and hot shooting from LaSalle College turned away Reading High 68-45

Game one featured Philly’s St. Joe Prep and Berks Catholic from Reading.  The game was delayed by almost 90 minutes due to travel problems for Prep getting to Reading.

Both teams came out sluggish most likely due to the delay.  Cold shooting hindered BC and after one Prep held a 10-5 lead.  Prep began to pull away in quarter two but thanks to some hot shooting from Louis Garcia BC hung in.  The Hawks D came to play all night long and gave up nothing in the paint.  The momentum from the good D did not transfer over to the O as Prep had difficulties scoring too.  We went to half with Prep up 19-11.

Prep star Ed Croswell exited with his fourth foul midway through the third.  BC took advantage and drew to within 21-16.  That was as close as BC got.  Prep got hot on both ends of the floor.  At the end of the third the Hawks held a 41-20 edge.  Prep kept up the pressure throughout quarter four and cruised to a 48-25 win.  Game MVP for St. Joe Prep was Jake O’Connel.  Jake had 10 points and was a force on the defensive end.

LaSalle College and Reading High met in game two.  LC came out with a hot hand beyond the arc and Reading just could not drop some easy shots.   After one LC was up 24-10.  LC kept up the hot shooting in quarter two, and Reading the pressing D could not provide any of their famous runs.  LaSalle held a 43-20 lead at the half.

In the 2nd half every time Reading would get some momentum, the LaSalle shooting turned the Red Knights away.  It was a 54-31 lead for LC after three and the final was 68-45 on the favor of the Explorers  Hot shooting Sean Simon had 17 points and was game MVP.

 

 

 

 

 

L-S Starts Fast, Cruises Past Donegal To Go 1-0 In Section Play

Although the 2017-18 high school hoops season only became a week old on Friday night, it has not been without its share of early headlines. Perhaps none nearly as eye-catching across the LLhoops landscape than that of the Donegal Indians. Starting off a season 3-0 may seem like old hat to some programs year in and year out, but this year’s impressive beginning is especially memorable considering what the school from Mount Joy has endured the last handful of seasons on the hardwood. Ever since that memorable playoff ride of 2013 that included victories over the likes of Allentown Central Catholic and Neumann-Goretti, the last team to beat Neumann Goretti in the state playoffs as a matter of fact, the winters have likely seemed a little longer and a little colder for Indians hoops fans ever since with wins not being nearly as plentiful. But all that has appeared to change after a sensational start to this season that has breathed new life to a program eager for its chance to break back out and challenge once again for section supremacy. And the Indians would get their shot right out of the gate as Donegal navigated the tricky roadways on a slick and icy Friday evening around the county for a matchup against the L-S Pioneers. An L-S program that seems to always be in the running for section title races, district playoff spots, and yes, state playoff appearances on an annual basis with this year appearing to be no different in Lampeter.

Although Donegal’s hot start to this season would be the narrative entering the evening, it would prove to be L-S who would define starting fast within the actual contest. The Pioneers jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after a 3 ball was cashed in by L-S’ Jordan Sweger before Andrew Stwalley was able to counter with one of his own which put Donegal on the board all while cutting the Pioneer lead down to size at just two. From that point on however, L-S ran away with it. Both literally and figuratively.

Aided by a barrage of triples and a superb display of transition offense from the likes of Chase Broderick and Jordan Sweger, the Pioneers proceeded to blitz their guests, jumping out to a quick 12-3 lead, forcing Donegal to call time with half the quarter left to go.

But unfortunately the timeout would not provide the relief that it was originally intended for as the Pioneers went on to rattle off a separate 5-0 scoring punch that was capped off by a triple in the corner from Seth Beers which made it a commanding 17-3 Pioneer advantage.

To their credit, Donegal continued to scrap and claw their way back into things as a triple from Donegal star senior guard Avery Walker stopped the powerful Pioneer charge before three more Donegal points, all racked up from the charity stripe by Stwalley, trimmed the L-S lead down to just ten at 19-9. After the Stwalley freebies however, L-S was there to answer as yet another triple, this one from junior marksman Chase Broderick, announced the Pioneer retaliation and allowed L-S to go on and enjoy a 23-12 lead after the first quarter.

Even a change in quarters did nothing to cool off L-S’ blistering-hot shooting touch early on. Once the second stanza got underway, it was senior guard Isaac Beers who stepped out behind the arc and promptly splashed home a triple of his own to put L-S up by two touchdowns at 28-14 with 6:20 left to go in the half. And although L-S largely relied upon the performance of their guards in the opening quarter, the second quarter also saw the emergence of Ryan Smith, L-S’ ultra-talented 6’10” senior center. Shortly after the Beers’ triple, Smith found himself around the tin, seemingly plucking the ball out of thin air to tally an offensive rebound, but also proceeding to lay it up and in for the putback which made it a 31-14 Pioneer advantage.

The inside out game of L-S continued on as the second quarter progressed with Broderick getting loose for yet another trifecta, only to be followed by teammate Marc Wilson from close range as the Pioneer senior who battled hard all night inside, collected an offensive board and putback to only increase the L-S advantage. Fortunately for Donegal however, Avery Walker was on the scene to make sure that the Pioneers did not get too far out in front as Walker sunk a triple from the top of the key to answer the Wilson stickback as Donegal found themselves now within a dozen at 39-27 going into the halftime intermission.

Although L-S was not able to start nearly as fast as they had in the previous two quarters, Donegal was not able to either as the Indians were held scoreless in the second half until a pair of free throws converted at the line by senior Michael Lyons with 5:13 left in the third made it a 41-29 contest in favor of L-S. Despite their slow start in the second half, the Pioneers began to find their footing as the third quarter progressed when Seth Beers collected a steal and raced all the way to the other end for the finish to put the Pioneers up 48-34 with 2:45 now showing on the third quarter clock.

The L-S lead only continued to grow from there as yet another tough battle won inside by Marc Wilson was good enough for more high-percentage Pioneer points as a Wilson stickback pushed the L-S lead out to 50-34, leading to a Donegal timeout.

Following the timeout, Avery Walker responded with a pair of buckets to keep Donegal within shouting distance but Donegal was still down by 14 at 52-38 as the game moved into the fourth quarter.

In the early stages of the final frame it had appeared that perhaps Donegal was on the verge of creating something to spark a late-game comeback when a steal and drive to the cup by Michael Lyons got the Indians off to a fine start. But once again however, L-S would have a rebuttal. Once more, another 3 ball, this one from Ryan Smith who both defined the L-S inside/outside game to a T in just that snapshot, stepped beyond the arc to rain down another Pioneer 3 ball to up the L-S lead to 55-41 as the final quarter trudged along.

Although Donegal would climb back to within a baker’s dozen later on at 57-44 following an Avery Walker trey, L-S would go on to close this section opener out in style.

Without question, the play of the night came shortly thereafter when Jordan Swegar went behind the back in midair for a sensational move for another Pioneer deuce in the waning minutes. Sure, the move itself was pretty sweet, but it took on a whole different dynamic considering Swegar was forced to exit the game just a few minutes prior after suffering a scary spill hard onto the deck after hustling to secure a defensive board.
It then seemed only fitting that the Pioneers were able to close this one much in the same the same way they started it as a fast break layup in transition from Seth Beers to Chase Broderick put L-S up by 19 at 67-48 before Cam Niemeyer offered up the last highlight of the night with a steal and finish at the tin to put the finishing touches on L-S’ impressive victory to start Section 2 play 1-0 as the Pioneers bested Donegal 73-52.

NEXT UP: L-S is back at it again on Saturday evening as the Pioneers rekindle their current out of league series with Octorara. A phrase that will go by the wayside of course when Octorara fully comes on board next year. After Saturday’s tilt against the Braves from Atglen, the Pioneers will reenter Section 2 play against E-Town, Solanco, and Garden Spot respectively before going off to play in the Middletown Holiday Tournament.

Although Donegal suffered their first loss of the season on Friday night, it is important that the Indians put this one in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible heading into next week with a schedule that features dates with Manheim Central, Garden Spot, and Ephrata before the holiday break. If nothing else, it is apparent that this is a different Donegal basketball team. One that seems rejuvenated and eager to take on the likes of Section 2 on a nightly basis. Starting with the talented and scrappy backcourt of Avery Walker and Elijah Swanigan coupled with key cogs such as Michael Lyons and Andrew Stwalley, the pieces seem to be in place for Donegal to be a team that can be heard from all winter long.

Scores/Schedule Dec 11-17

Week 2 Dec 11-17

 

Sat Dec 16

All non-league
McCaskey 54 Harrisburg 81
Exeter 58 Warwick 53 (OT)
LS 88 Octorara 55
Sus-nock 39 M Central 57
Solanco 40 K-Dale 58
Spring- Ford 55 Hempfield   67

Leb. Cath 52 York Christian 51

 

 

Fri. Dec 15

LL Games

Sec 1
CV 40 Hempfield 65
Lebanon 40 TWP 75

Section 2
Spot 55 Cocalico  48
Donegal 52 LS 73
Etown 48 Ephrata 61
M Central @ Solanco  PPd

 

Section 3
AC 59 N. Leb. 63
LMHS 67 Columbia 58
Lanc. Cath 60 ELCO 55
PV 54 Leb. Cath. 44

Non-league
Crest 48 York  55 at Philly 2:15 tip

 

Thurs Dec 14

LL Games
Crest 61 McCaskey 46
Warwick 42 Penn Manor 54

Non-league
LMHS 46 Trinity 59
Antietam 58 PV 70

 

Wed Dec 13

Solanco 39 CV 64
TWP 59 Central Dauphin 42
K- Dale 50 Penn Manor 44
Ephrata 59 Warwick 57 (OT)
Cocalico 44 Wilson 56
Dallastown 71 Etown 62
Covenant @ Leb. Cath. ppd
N Lebanon 67 C Weiser 59
Gov Mifflin 60 Lebanon 58 OT

 

 

Monday Dec. 11

Crest  57 M. Central 39

Chester 78 McCaskey 54

Penn Manor 44 Ephrata 46

 

Tues. Dec. 12

CV 51 LMHS 52 (OT)

Exeter 43 Cocalico 46

Columbia 65 Donegal 72 (OT)

Gov. Mifflin 59 Spot 46

Lanc. Cath. 41 LS 53

ELCO 53 Manheim Central 48

AC 63 Tulpy 37

PV 37 Twin Valley  66

Northern Lebanon @ Middletown ppd

 

 

 

Sat Dec 16

All non-league


McCaskey @ Harrisburg 2:30
Exeter @ Warwick 1:30
LS @ Octorara
Sus-nock @ M Central
Solanco @ K-Dale
Leb. Cath @ York Christian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cedar Crest Overcomes Sluggish Start, Takes Down McCaskey For Key Section 1 Victory

It wasn’t all that long ago that seeing Cedar Crest and McCaskey on the nightly basketball slate wouldn’t have garnered much attention. But those days are long gone. For years, the McCaskey Red Tornado dominated the Section 1 landscape taking down nearly all comers. But for the last handful of seasons, the Cedar Crest Falcons refused to abide by that narrative and have dared to challenge the throne. And not only have the Falcons risen up to challenge the mighty Red Tornado, the two programs have gone on to trade volleys with one another for Section and League supremacy. Needless to say, a Cedar Crest and McCaskey game that now appears on the schedule has become appointment viewing. And on Thursday evening, the Falcons just so happened to be headed southbound to renew acquaintances with their old friends in Lancaster city.

In terms of drawing up a perfect start, it was hard to imagine one better than what the Red Tornado illustrated in the game’s opening minutes. After a steal by Cedar Crest’s Dylan Miller promptly led to an assist to Jaiden Melendez just a few seconds into the contest, the Red Tornado came roaring back. Fueled by a Bryan Menendez triple that started the scoring, McCaskey ripped off a 14-0 onslaught that capped off by a reverse finish at the tin by senior forward Eddie Simmons, forcing Cedar Crest to call time down 14-2 with 2:51 left in the opening quarter.

Trying the figure out the best way to go about attacking McCaskey’s zone, Cedar Crest found relief from their scoring drought in the foul line as a pair of free throws from senior guard Blake Thomson got the Falcons within ten at 14-4 just 30 seconds after the timeout. But McCaskey was able to remain on their sizzling start as a trifecta rained down from senior guard Isiah Speller put the Red Tornado lead past the ten point mark at 17-6.

Despite starting off colder than the temperatures outside Shultz Transportation Gymnasium, the foundation had been laid for Cedar Crest’s comeback as a three point play by veteran senior forward Cole Laney got the Falcons back under that aforementioned ten point gap at 17-9 as the first quarter came to a close.

From there, Cedar Crest erased their early game struggles in almost the blink of an eye. After a 3 ball from Jaiden Melendez coupled with a floater in the lane by Blake Thomson, the Falcons found themselves back within three already at 17-14 with just 1:15 having gone off the second quarter clock.

Cedar Crest would eventually go on to take the lead as a jumper from junior guard Brody Dunlop gave the Falcons their first lead since the opening seconds of the contest at 19-17. Although McCaskey would rally to tie things up at 19 apiece, the Falcons found separation from their hosts after a pair of triples from Logan Horn and Dylan Miller respectively as Cedar Crest went into the halftime break leading 27-24.

For as much as the first two quarters could be seen as separate entities making up a back and forth affair, the third quarter in and of itself illuminated that theme in spades. Coming out of the break, the Tornado proceeded to go on a 6-0 run that was capped off with Isiah Speller floater in the lane returned the lead back to McCaskey’s favor at 28-27. But from there, a Jaiden Melendez triple, one of his four on the evening, gave the lead back to Cedar Crest at 30-28, only to see the trading of honors continue as a Makai Ortiz 3 ball put the Red Tornado back in front shortly thereafter at 33-32.

The downtown shooting display from McCaskey continued on as Isiah Speller splashed home one of his four triples on the evening to put McCaskey back on the upper hand of the seesaw at 36-35 with 3:35 left to be played in the third quarter. But from that point on, Cedar Crest was able to take the lead and run with it.

Cole Laney would be the one to put Cedar Crest over the edge as his triple, good for 3 of his 13 point effort, saw the energy translate on the defensive end as well as a Laney rejection down on other end eventually led to a pair of Blake Thomson freebies from the charity stripe to make it a 40-36 Falcon advantage before Cedar Crest would see the third quarter expire with the 42-37 lead in their favor.

Although the deficit was just five facing McCaskey when the final quarter got underway, the Falcons slowly but surely were able to pull away and with it, any hopes of a final McCaskey flurry as the fourth quarter marched on. After a tough hoop inside was registered by Cole Laney which made it a 48-39 ballgame, a Blake Thomson hoop plus the harm seemed to really take the wind out of the McCaskey sails as Thomson went on to make the free throw that would follow to put the Falcons on top 51-39 with 5:03 left to go.

Although McCaskey would respond with the next four points, the last of which came courtesy of a Brian McKenzie jumper, Cedar Crest would go on to close the game out from charity stripe as a plentiful handful of freebies from Logan Horn helped the Falcons cruise home down the stretch and remain unbeaten at 4-0 with hard-fought 61-46 victory at McCaskey.

Although any win in Section 1 is considered so precious, Thursday’s night battle at McCaskey took on extra significance considering the Falcons will tip the ball off again on Friday afternoon opposite of the York Bearcats. Oh yeah by the way, on the very floor of the Philadelphia 76ers. Without question, the type of circumstance that could make even the most veteran of head coaches antsy. “This was one of the games that scared me,” Cedar Crest head coach Tommy Smith admitted afterwards. “I knew the kids were so excited about what they have tomorrow, but we had good focus coming in. The first quarter didn’t go our way, but shots just didn’t fall.” And despite what could have turned out to be a point of no return given a deep hole to McCaskey on their home floor, Cedar Crest did not flinch. Even with aspirations of playing on the same floor graced by NBA Hall of Famers in just a matter of hours. Playing with that level of focus, Smith and the Falcons are sure to be pleased with the results not only in the short term, but the long term as well. “Knowing what’s ahead of them tomorrow and the way handled themselves tonight I was very proud of them.”

NEXT UP: As mentioned Cedar Crest will take a quick detour out of LL League play for the trip down to Philadelphia to take on York at the Wells Fargo Center. A once in a lifetime opportunity that Coach Smith is excited to share with his Falcon squad. “It’s something special for these kids,” Smith went on to add now that the moment had finally arrived. “Ever since I found out, I’ve been excited about it, and just so excited for these kids. Give them credit. They haven’t looked ahead too much. What an incredible opportunity these guys have tomorrow.”

McCaskey will now take Friday night off since the Cedar Crest game was moved up for logistical purposes, but the Tornado will return to action for a Saturday afternoon road scrap with fellow powerhouse Harrisburg. Once next week begins, the Tornado will be looking at dates with Lebanon, Penn Manor, and Conestoga Valley inside Section 1 respectively before the holiday break.

Wildcats Feast On Bears Turnovers As Dallastown Scores Early Season Road Win At E-Town

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.

Cocalico Grinds Out Blue Collar Victory Over Unbeaten Exeter

Although this year’s high school basketball season is still in its infancy, it’s safe to say that the Cocalico Eagles did not get off to the type of start they were hoping for thus far. Although the Eagles entered their home opener on Tuesday still winless, a closer look at Cocalico’s early season slate helps to tell the story of the gauntlet that was the Hershey Tip Off Tournament right out of the starting blocks. Although the Eagles came up short in both contests, losses to Hershey and Allentown Allen are certainly nothing to sneeze at. If Allen sounds like a familiar name, it should. Remember for a moment that the Canaries were knocked off in the opening round of states last year. A victory that helped propel the Black Knights to their memorable run through the state tournament. But with lessons learned from the opening week of the season with an added bolt of energy from playing on their home floor, Cocalico welcomed the Exeter Eagles down from Berks County for a midweek tussle. An Exeter squad that has already earned the right to be called a champion this young season as the Eagles laid claim to their own tip off tournament this past weekend.

Early on, it was apparent that this was a Cocalico outfit that was out to make amends for last weekend. The Eagles quickly jumped on top of their guests early on by running out to a 7-0 lead after a Connor Mack putback, his second bucket of the early going, as Exeter was forced to burn a timeout with 4:48 left in the opening quarter. Exeter was finally able to get on the board following the timeout as a Wes Murray lay in off the fast break gave the Eagles their first points of the ballgame. The junior forward for Exeter continued to have the hot hand over the few minutes as Murray went on to tally Exeter’s first six points of the ballgame, the last of which made it a 9-6 Cocalico lead with 2:20 to go in the opening frame.

From that point on however, the first quarter was dominated by the hometown Eagles. Inspired by a charge taken on the defensive end by senior forward Tyler Keppley, Cocalico saw their lead swell to 14-6, with three free throws from Nick Lucky being critical during that stretch. But the highlight of the quarter, and really the game for that matter, came in the last few seconds of the opening frame a ¾ court shot by sophomore guard Alex Javier found the bottom of the cup which brought Exeter within five at 14-9 once the first quarter expired.

The Cocalico lead was then cut down to four in the opening stages of the second stanza as freshman guard Anthony Wise was able to splash home a triple for Exeter with just 1:30 gone by with the score now reading 16-12. After a nice spin move in the paint by Cocalico big man Trey Griffin, Cocalico was able to get some breathing room on the scoreboard with the score now 18-12 in favor of the home team.

But Exeter was not about to let Cocalico run away and hide on this frigid night. Much in the same way that the Tyler Keppley charge taken in the first quarter seemed to inspire the Cocalico troops, a charge taken by Exeter’s junior center Anthony Zabala seemed to do the same for the visitors from Reiffton midway through the second quarter as well. Following the Zabala charge, Alex Javier went on to score five of the next seven Exeter points to make it a two point ballgame with Cocalico in front 23-21. Javier would continue on his remarkable first half performance as a jumper by the heady Exeter guard kept it at a two point margin when the opening half came to a close with Cocalico hanging on to the narrow 25-23 advantage.

Coming out of the break, Cocalico turned to their ace in the hole, Aidan Trynosky, as the sensational senior guard delivered with a trademark triple to get the second half scoring underway for Cocalico. From there, Cocalico’s lead only continued to grow as a ferocious battle inside won by Cocalico saw the possession ultimately end in a Connor Mack bucket which increased Cocalico’s lead to 34-27. The Eagle lead would then grow to double digits as a Nick Lucky trifecta made the scoreboard read 37-27 in favor of Cocalico with 4:30 left in the third, forcing Exeter to call a timeout.

As time would go on to show, the timeout called by Exeter did its job and promptly slowed down the Cocalico onslaught. After an Alex Javier 3 ball and a beautiful display of running the floor by Exeter big man Anthony Zabala, the Eagles of Exeter found themselves within seven at 39-32 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Cocalico lead would end up being sliced down to as few as three later on as a nifty reverse finish at the tin by Exeter’s Joe Rohrbach made it a 39-36 contest in favor of Cocalico as the fourth quarter was set to begin.

After a somewhat slow start to get the fourth and final quarter underway, Cocalico’s Brad Heck was finally able to break the scoring seal as a turnaround jumper with a kiss off the glass put Cocalico back up by five with 5:30 left to go at 41-36. Once again however, Exeter was not about raise the white flag as two buckets back to back by the Eagles’ Riley Dobraniecki, his first points of the contest, trimmed Cocalico’s lead down to the slimmest of margins as 41-40 with four minutes left to go.

But Dobraniecki was not finished. Although the senior center brought Exeter back into the thick of it with a handful of buckets from the field, it was a free throw just after that that knotted things up at 41-41 with 3:07 left in the ballgame.

Now playing on a level playing field in terms of the scoreboard for the first time since the opening tip, Exeter was determined to play from the head pilot’s chair. And they were able to do just that shortly thereafter as a steal by Alex Javier ended in a trip to the foul line down on the other end as the sophomore guard proceeded to calmly knock down the pair, giving Exeter their first lead of the contest at 43-41 with just 1:49 left to go.

Luckily for the hometown patrons from Denver, their Eagle squad wasn’t through fighting on this night. With momentum clearly on Exeter’s side following the clutch free throws from Javier, Cocalico did not flinch as a Connor Mack jumper was not only good for 2 of his team high 12 points, it knotted the score back up at 43-43 with time ticking away.

With Exeter unable to manufacture anything on their ensuing possession, Cocalico had the ball back in their hands with the chance for a walkoff victory. Although it wasn’t necessarily a picture-perfect walkoff, it proved to be dramatic nonetheless as Nick Lucky drove to the cup with great determination, getting fouled in the act where the senior guard saw the first freebie crawl through the net before a timeout was called with one more remaining coming out of the break. Although Lucky’s second free throw would not have the same similar fate as the first, Connor Mack was there to save the day for Cocalico as the junior guard ran down the loose ball, securing the offensive rebound, where he would receive his turn to go to the line after getting fouled by the pursuing Exeter troops. And although this free throw would not find the bottom of the cup either, a deflection by freshman Carter Nuneville saw the ball find its way back into the hands of senior Nick Lucky. This trip to the charity stripe would prove to be more successful than the previous excursions for Cocalico as Lucky was able to knock down the pair, giving the homestanding Eagles the 46-43 cushion with .4 seconds remaining.

Exeter would have one last gasp, however the long baseball pass down the floor would be tipped away, giving Cocalico their first victory of the season 46-43 over Exeter.

Although any victory is appreciated during the rigors of the nightly grind of high school hoops, few come much sweeter than the first one of the season. Particularly after a tough pair of games to start off the season. And despite Cocalico’s 0-2 start, it’s clear that Cocalico head coach Seth Sigman enjoys this year’s team and what they can bring to the table. “We’re scrappy, which I love, and we play hard,” Sigman offered after the game. “Our scoring was spread out tonight which is a good thing for us too. Nick (Lucky) and Connor (Mack) scored for us and we got some timely baskets from other guys too,” the head man went on to add before stating matter of factly, “That is a big step we have to take this year in order to be where we want to be come February.”

NEXT UP: Cocalico will try to turn one win into two on Wednesday night as the Eagles make the trek up 222 to pay a visit to the Wilson Bulldogs before opening up Section 2 play against Garden Spot on Friday night back home in the Eagles Nest.

Exeter will have off for the rest of the week before the Eagles get their next chance to regroup against their fourth Lancaster Lebanon League team in as many games as the Eagles will play host to Warwick in a Saturday afternoon matinee.