2022 Lancaster-Lebanon League All-Stars Score, Keep Scoring, Then Score Some More As Departing Senior Class Explodes For 242 Combined Points In Annual Showcase Game
Written by: Andy Herr on Wednesday, April 6th, 2022
No matter how you may try and slice it, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that this most recent season of Lancaster-Lebanon League boys’ basketball was anything but a success story. Simply put, while the teams that reside in the L-L as a whole not only made a case for moving the conference upwards into the top tier of the District 3 footprint, you may even be able to entertain the argument that the L-L was arguably the best conference all year long inside the entire mid-state. Suffice to say, that’s quite a statement when you consider that the mighty Mid-Penn and others happen to share the same space. Of course, that’s certainly easier to grasp and understand when you have some sort of representation inside the Giant Center for District 3 title weekend, much less in five of the six games played up there in Hershey in total, just further evidence as to how dominant this league truly was this season. And oh yeah, if you’re wondering, the L-L went 3-2 in that handful of games, culminating in Lancaster Mennonite’s, Columbia’s, and Lampeter-Strasburg’s crowns in the 2A, 3A and 5A ranks respectively.
Speaking of L-S, the Pioneers were largely the centerpiece of the league’s discussion points all season long. How could they not be though? Shoot, if you’re going to roll through the regular season unscathed, much less essentially untouched, you might as well go on the capture the league title as well, right? Sure enough, that’s precisely what the Pios were able to accomplish at the end of a wildly entertaining game against Hempfield in the title fight held at Manheim Township that reached it’s climax on a Ty Burton dead-eye 3-ball, a shot by the L-S all-state sophomore guard that surely helped introduce him to a much wider audience if they had not already been aware of his exploits before as the blue and white were able to claim their second league title –second in the last half dozen seasons no less – in a dramatic 50-47 win over the Black Knights. And following their league crown, L-S went on to lock up the aforementioned District 3-5A championship as well following their triumph over Shippensburg, vaulting L-S into the state playoff field with an unblemished, 28-0 resume. Unfortunately, L-S’ state run was cut short before it even had a chance to get started considering the Pios would end up falling on their home floor to a wildly-underseeded Penn Hills squad from out of the WPIAL in 62-39 final decision, surely throwing some cold water on what may very well end up being the best season that this part of the local universe may end up bearing witness to for quite some time to come.
Speaking of the various state tournaments, the conference also held up their end of the bargain in that regard as well. Sure, while none of the eights team that qualified from the L-L would end up making it to Hershey this year for the state finals –much less any team from either the boys or girls ranks within all of District 3 to be perfectly frank – it wasn’t as if those teams that were able to make it onto such a prestigious stage of the PIAA field needed to really swallow any bitter pills in their final defeats of the season. Case in point, the fact that two teams from the L-L League had their seasons abruptly at the hands of the eventual state champions, Devon Prep and Neumann-Goretti, who were able to vanquish both Columbia and ELCO in the earlier rounds of their respective 3A and 5A brackets.
However, let’s be clear. None of the league’s laundry list of achievements that could be boasted about coming on the heels of this most recent season are truly able to occur at all without leadership. Define the word however you wish, but chances are that senior leadership in particular will typically end up sealing the deal more often than not in terms of concocting that final dose of secret sauce to add into the potion. And fittingly, in what has evolved into a customary practice for as long as most anyone can readily recall, the L-L League Coaches’ Association honored this year’s soon-to-be graduates with one final curtain call in the annual Senior All-Star Game held at Hempfield on Tuesday night.
To say that both teams were able to fill it up on this night might somehow be a bit of a disservice here. In terms of the early portion of the scoring that is, the “Home” team on the scoreboard, those donning their home whites, raced out to the early lead thanks to a 5-0 surge courtesy of L-S’ Isaiah Parido before Columbia’s Kerry “Hov” Glover would counter back with an answer of his own the next trip down the floor which surely helped both teams establish some sort of rhythm and overall footing. However, it seemed as if Glover’s impromptu bucket helped serve as a catalyst of sorts for his squad seeing as how a 3-ball rained down by Manheim Township’s Seth Miller shortly thereafter clipped the Home team’s lead down a slim three-point cushion, 14-11, with the opening ten-minute frame careening towards its halfway mark.
Ironically though, that would be the closest that those in their dark, school-colored unis get for the foreseeable future.
For that, those in the white would have E-Town’s Pat Gilhool and Warwick’s Avery Sapp to thank in helping the lead the charge for their side as the pair from out of Section Two proceeded to bomb in two consecutive trifectas to make it a 24-13 lead in their team’s behalf before a timely two-handed flush by Garden Spot’s Brendan Weaver on the opposing team’s next trip down the floor with roughly two minutes remaining would counter suit, all of which took place prior to the opening stanza later expiring with the Home side in possession of a 32-24 advantage.
Speaking of shooting from beyond the arc, that was most certainly the preferred weapon of choice for those playing on either side in this one.
Case in point, a pair of shots sunk from beyond the arc that were traded back and forth between Warwick’s Tate Landis and Glover near the midway point of the second frame respectively, triples which would come before Glover would then proceed to dial up another bucket from bonus distance shortly thereafter, a trey which cut the Home side’s lead down to a very slim 50-47 difference with 3:45 left to play in the opening half. Speaking of the Crimson Tide’s four-year starter, he would go on to share team-high scoring honors with Conestoga Valley’s Cameron Swinton on this night as both guards poured in a commanding 17-point each to help lead the charge for their shared ballclub.
That said, Glover’s latest trey would prove to be all the closer that the “Away” squad would get on this night as three triples cashed in by Cocalico’s appropriately-named Trey Rios over the ensuing few minutes of play would help propel the Home outfit out to the 61-52 advantage which is essentially where things would remain come the halftime intermission in Landisville as those under the “Black Knights” column up on the scoreboard inside Buchanan Gymnasium were found sporting the 64-52 cushion.
Try as they might though, the Away side certainly did what they could to make this exhibition appear to one that could pass as a competitive contest.
In that regard, Manheim Central’s Judd Novak would be the recipient of some much-deserved kudos as the departing Baron went on to tally his own personal 5-0 tear coming out of the makeshift recess, a volley which trimmed the Home team’s lead down to a 72-61 count just a few minutes into the period. Later, while the existing difference would get trimmed down to a modest four points at 72-68, McCaskey’s Hasan Williams clearly wasn’t having any of that.
Without any great shadow of a doubt, the one encompassing theme that inevitably seems to envelope these showcase games at the end of the season is that defense becomes, shall we say, optional, with NASA-like numbers eventually being put up on the scoreboard come evening’s end. With that in mind, there’s certainly ample space available for personal numbers to get tallied up akin to that of a cash register. And on Tuesday night, no one was able to ring it up better than the lone member of the Red Tornado found playing in the 2022 edition of this contest. Right on cue it seemed, with his squad’s momentum and mojo starting to teeter, a timely 3-ball by Hasan Williams was good enough to push the Home side’s lead up to a 75-68 lead with seven minutes left to play in the third, a three-point addition to what would eventually be Williams’ game-high scoring output of 19 points by the end of the night.
And with Williams’ bucket seeming to serve as the fuel, the Home side was then well on their way to hitting the century mark not all that long afterwards. Sure enough, courtesy of a pair of Isaiah Parido triples sunk with inside of two minutes left to play in the frame, the Home team’s lead then swelled up to a 96-79 count before a dunk by ELCO’s Corey Attivo fittingly served as the exclamation point in that coveted quest as the Raiders’ big man made it a 101-83 ballgame which seemed to put the bow on the third frame as the Home side carried the 101-85 lead with them into the final 10 minutes of their high school basketball careers.
Speaking of McCaskey’s Hasan Williams, he was quite simply a tour de force inside the final stanza on Tuesday evening.
Behind the aid of at least three determined and hard-earned takes the rack inside the initial few minutes of the final quarter, Williams was able to push his team’s lead out to a near 20-point bulge, 109-90, with time being of the essence if the opposing side would have any such charge left in them down the final stretch.
Well, while they would certainly give it a whirl, most notably with yet another trifecta sunk by Columbia’s Robert Footman which cut it down to a 124-113 ballgame with just a few minutes left to be played, an offensive aerial onslaught brought forth by both teams on this night would end in a 127-115 final score in favor of those wearing the white uniforms, a just and well-deserved final milestone that everyone could undoubtedly look back on and enjoy in some capacity.
Lastly, in terms of succinctly wrapping up the 2021-22 L-L League boys’ hoops season which had just concluded for good at Hempfield on this early April night, especially given the author of course, that might not be all that feasible to try and rightly accomplish. But just like those who had just suited up on Tuesday night, I too will give it one final go.
In this same space a year ago when trying to wrap what was then a wild and wonky 2020-21 campaign that everyone will certainly remember for one reason or another following the annual senior showcase event, I made mention that the 2021 senior class should be remembered years from now as the departing crew that helped get the L-L League back on its feet to where it was found competing with the likes of every conference inside District 3, not taking a back seat to anyone. Well, needless to say, the 2022 senior class failed in that regard. No, not because it was for a lack of holding up the same bar that the 2021 seniors helped to put in place, but for the simple fact that this year’s departing crew absolutely eviscerated those goals and then some along the way.
In short, forget about competing with everyone else in District 3. How about rubbing elbows with everyone else on the eastern side of the state? When you can field five district finalists and three champions, one which who went through the process undefeated in 5A no less, that bar has now been raised to an entirely different level almost overnight. So, with that in mind, good luck Class of 2023. Those who have just gone before you have left quite a legacy for you all to try and uphold and maintain.
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