Antietam Exerts Will, Cruises Past Lebanon Catholic In Beavers’ Season Finale
Written by: Andy Herr on Friday, February 7th, 2020
Success, much like beauty, can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder. Take the Lebanon Catholic Beavers for example.
This season, while the boys from Assumption Hill failed to win any league games during the 2019-20 campaign, it was just a few weeks ago when Lebanon Catholic was seen flirting with the District 3-A playoff bubble before an untimely losing skid eventually put the kibosh to any of those best-laid plans. Even still, while many of the outside may not have shared in the same sentiments when describing the Beavers’ incremental progress exhibited this year, there was still an undeniable truth contained within in. And while Lebanon Catholic’s season would come to an end on Thursday night in Berks County after 32 minutes against the playoff-bound and tough-as-nails, Antietam Mounts, their final game of the season offered the Beavers one last chance at making a resounding statement heading into what figures to be an intense offseason regimen.
Even with all that being said, this would quickly turn into a night where Antietam would ultimately show off all the weapons in their already deep arsenal.
In fact, the Mounts wasted little to no time whatsoever in exerting their dominance.
On Antietam’s first trip down the floor, senior guard, Walter Davies-Wright, got things started by firing in a trifecta before ultimately following that up with deep two on the Mounts’ next possession, giving Antietam the early 5-0 lead just a few seconds into the contest. So, with the Mounts’ hot perimeter-shooting clearly working in top gear in the game’s infancy, Antietam proceeded to dump the ball down low to senior center, Aaron Crawford, with the Mounts’ big man rising to the challenge by contributing a pair of back-to-back buckets in the paint to help aid the Mountaineer cause, forcing Lebanon Catholic to call an early timeout while down 9-2 with 5:35 left to play in the opening quarter.
Yet to their credit, Lebanon Catholic quickly warmed to fight over the span of the next few minutes.
Sparked by their first six points coming by way of the Beavers’ lone senior, center Albie O’Rawe, Lebanon Catholic had finally found their footing before a 3-ball pumped in sophomore guard, Peter Skulski, propelled the visitors into a 9-9 tie a mere minute and change following the early Antietam salvo that had prompted the aforementioned early Beaver timeout needed to help stem the tide.
However, for just as quickly as they had clawed back into the thick of things, Antietam proceeded to take off and never look back for the remainder of the night after spotting Lebanon Catholic the early counterpunch.
Aided by another round of triples –these coming thanks to the efforts of seniors Prestin Stief and Jaden Green respectively—the Mounts had quickly built their lead back up to five at 19-14 before another bucket by Stief, this one coming from point-blank range, put Antietam up by a touchdown at 21-14 with the first quarter quickly coming to a close. And once the opening quarter ultimately did expire, Antietam had been able to add one more deuce to their existing lead with the Mounts now owning possession of the 23-14 lead after one.
In the second quarter though, Antietam put on an absolute clinic offensively.
You’ve probably heard of teams owning the offensive glass, but that probably wouldn’t be doing it enough justice to describe the effort that the Mounts put forth on Thursday night. Not only did Antietam own the boards, they also wiped them clean during the second stanza as a bevy of Antietam second-chance opportunities ultimately helped define the second quarter narrative. That said, with their inside play clearly working in tip-top shape, yet another barrage of Antietam treys –these sunk by junior Corey McKoy and Prestin Stief—vaulted the Mounts out to the 31-14 cushion with Lebanon Catholic being forced to burn another quick timeout to stop the bleeding with 5:41 left to play before the break.
That said, the Mounts’ team defense wasn’t too shabby either.
Especially not when you consider the fact that the Beavers’ first points of the second stanza didn’t take place until the 2:10 mark of the quarter thanks to a pullup jumper nailed by Peter Skulski en route to his team-high 12-point performance.
In that regard, it probably shouldn’t have been much in terms of a surprise to see Antietam capture the sizable lead heading into the halftime recess given in how effective they had been playing on both ends of the floor. Sure enough, that happened to be the case considering Antietam trotted off into the half while claiming the 39-19 lead.
But not even the ten-minute break in the action seemed to be very effective in terms of slowing down Antietam’s blitzkrieg.
In fact, following a gorgeous display of transition offense that had culminated in a fast-break layup by Prestin Stief –Antietam’s game-high scorer with an 18-point outing—courtesy of dish thrown his way by Corey McKoy that came coupled with yet another second-chance bucket tallied at the rim by junior forward, Hector Tiburcio, the Mounts had effectively raced out of the halftime break en route to capturing the 48-23 lead with 5:45 still left in the third.
Yet even with a pair of Lebanon Catholic buckets tossed in by way of junior Mark Gates and Peter Skulski respectively later on in the period trimmed the Beavers’ deficit down to 48-27, an old-school three-point play authored by Tiburcio shortly thereafter gave the Mounts’ their largest lead of the evening up until that point, 61-29, before Antietam headed into the final frame with the 63-29 advantage to their name.
Granted, while the outcome of this game was nothing more than an official formality at this point, the final eight minutes of Lebanon Catholic’s season offered glimpses into the future yet to come for those in attendance to bear witness to.
Case in point, a pair of long-range bombs peppered into the mix by Mark Gates in the waning minutes that came sandwiched around a sensational, acrobatic finish at the rim by Antietam senior forward, Johnny Day.
Fittingly, just as he had helped raise the curtain in the early going on Thursday night, Antietam’s Aaron Crawford was there to steal the show and ultimately lower the curtain as well considering the Mounts’ crowd favorite of a big man chimed in with one more bucket inside, creating the loud decibel level that the Antietam Junior/Senior High School gym had heard up until that point all night long.
And once the dust had finally settled, the scoreboard hanging high above either baseline gave credence to the effort that the homestanding Mounts had just put forth, culminating in a 75-44 final triumph over the Beavers.
As mentioned, while those outside of Lebanon Catholic’s locker room may not see as many clear signs of tangible progress given their overall record this season, rest assured they are certainly there to be found. In fact, one only need talk to the head man to figure that out. And he’s understandably excited to get back into the lab and start putting the pieces back together with the bulk of his roster returning in tow again next season.
“We competed in our section,” third-year head coach Wee Sanchez said regarding the year that was just a handful of minutes after seeing his team’s season end late Thursday night. “In a lot of our games, we were competitive up until halftime. After halftime, we just kind of lost our steam or focus. That’s where I’m confused. I’m trying to understand what happened after halftime where we just lost our edge,” said Sanchez.
“Looking back here though quick, I was happy for the most part. We just gotta figure this out and play a full 32 minutes,” Sanchez added. “We’re able to play 16 minutes, but we gotta put 32 minutes together.”
And while most are justifiably focused on the here and now regarding this year’s upcoming postseason, the landscape that will be Lancaster-Lebanon Section Five next season will feature arguably the most returning pool of talent found anywhere in the league from top to bottom.
“In our section, there’s a lot of returning talent. But you know, I look at my guys and we have some nice underclassmen coming up too which is going to be fun to watch,” Sanchez went on to say regarding the future at hand.
“What I just told them in the locker room is that we have to put the work in. I can guarantee you that other guys on other teams are putting the work in over the summer and what have you. Where we’re going to be a make a difference depends on how hard the guys want to work in the offseason. It’s up to them.”
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