E-Town Leaves No Doubt, Continues Sprint Towards Postseason In Resounding Crossover Triumph Over Hempfield
Written by: Andy Herr on Friday, January 31st, 2020
In sports, much like in show business, sometimes the sequels can be extremely difficult to surpass. Fitting then that the E-Town Bears, a team full of well-known stars, happened to find themselves in that very same position heading into their Thursday night Lancaster-Lebanon League crossover tilt against Hempfield.
You see, just a few night ago – two to be exact – the Bears locked up an L-L League tournament berth — in the most dramatic of fashions no less– courtesy of a last-second Brody Beach triple sunk at the final gun that sent Lebanon back up across the county line packing, 61-58. Suffice to say, how could you possibly top something like that? Well, fortunately for E-Town head coach Rocky Parise, seeing Hempfield as the next team up on his team’s docket likely helped snap the Bears right back in the correct direction with still plenty of business still left for them to tend to before the regular season concludes next week.
Granted, although this season has been rather atypical for the Black Knights seeing as how Hempfield will not make the postseason this year, the grind that comes with playing against their methodical, almost precision-like style, never truly wavers regardless of how the Black Knights’ wins and losses ledger may read. And for a team that has unquestioned and realistic desires of playing deep into the postseason this year, seeing any and all styles of play prior to their official introduction into postseason basketball would do nothing but assist the Bears who will play next Friday night, likely against the high-flying and up-and-down attack of the ELCO Raiders, in the opening round of the league tournament.
However, not even the style of play would end up being the determining factor in this one. No, for this would be a night in which the Bears effectively dominated their Section One competition on their terms.
That said, it didn’t always appear that way given the initial first few minutes of the contest. In fact, after a pair of Black Knights’ triples, the last of which was sprayed by 6’1 junior guard, Ryan Hilton, Hempfield had grabbed the early 6-2 lead just 1:15 into the contest. However, over the course of the next few minutes, E-Town eventually gathered themselves and righted the ship by proceeding to go on a 9-2 run following the Hilton 3-ball as an Elijah Eberly triple, good for 3 of his game-high 25-point outburst on the evening, gave the homestanding Bears their first lead of the night at 11-8.
Yet even though a prompt Konnor Axe trifecta would immediately follow suit on Hempfield’s ensuing possession, the rest of the evening would be predominately bathed in a mixture of blue and white from there on out.
While E-Town’s impromptu 9-2 salvo was understandably impressive, how does 9-0 sound? Yes, that indeed would end up being the run that the Bears would proceed to go on after seeing the score deadlocked at 11-11 in the opening moments.
How did it eventually end you ask? Why with a perfect concoction of inside-out play of course.
After seeing Elijah Eberly tally a bucket inside from point-blank range, the Bears then witnessed Luke Pierson stepping out from behind the arc as the Bears’ 6’3 junior forward gave the hosts the 20-11 advantage, forcing Hempfield to burn a timeout and regroup with 1:20 left to play in the opening quarter.
Fortunately for the guests from Landisville, a pair of timely Ryan Hilton back-to-back buckets were exactly what the Black Knights’ doctor had ordered as a Hilton’s late-quarter blitz help trim the E-Town lead back down to size at 23-13 once the second quarter was set to get underway.
In many ways, if one were to look at the game film and study the first few minutes of the second quarter that was played between Hempfield and E-Town on Thursday night, the only true metaphor that could accurately describe what had taken place was an offensive dissection directed by the Bears.
Yes, just when E-Town likely had to be feeling rather comfortable with things, especially after a Ryan Parise bucket inside which upped the Bears’ lead to a baker’s dozen at 28-15, E-Town would then proceed to go on and double-up their hosts as yet another Bears’ bucket in the paint, this one understandably courtesy of 6’4 senior forward, Elijah Eberly, made it a 32-16 affair in favor of E-Town with 5:45 left to go before the break.
Needing a break in their own right, anything of the sort in order to help stop the bleeding, Hempfield finally found their answer as 3-ball dialed up by way of 6’3 junior forward, Bradon Hagel, ended the Black Knights’ rather lengthy field goal drought, while simultaneously trimming the deficit down to 36-19 with now 2:30 left before halftime. Yet when the final two minutes and change eventually did expire off the first half clock, E-Town found themselves with the sizable 38-21 lead as both teams retired to their respective dressing rooms.
However, not even the break in the game’s action would end up doing much of anything in terms of slowing down the E-Town attack.
That sentiment especially rings true when considering the effort that Luke Pierson was putting forth out on the floor. To be sure, the Bears’ dynamic junior proceeded to go on his own personal 5-0 run to begin the third frame for E-Town, pushing the Bears’ lead up to the 20-point threshold at 43-23. And just as they had done early in the contest, albeit by a much smaller margin, E-Town once again doubled-up their guests as an old-school three-point play courtesy of none other than the Desales-bound, Elijah Eberly, gave E-Town the 50-25 advantage with 3:51 left to play in the third.
Even though the Hempfield deficit was now particularly deep, the Black Knights’ patrons who traveled to Elizabethtown were treated to some bright moments during the third quarter on Thursday evening, but perhaps none more so than Sam Bennett’s fearless coast-to-coast layup in the waning moments of the third stanza, cutting the E-Town lead down to 56-29 before the quarter eventually came to its conclusion with the Bears’ maintaining their firm grip on the lead, 56-30.
Once again, the E-Town lead only continued to bubble-up and swell once inside the final frame as well.
In fact, the lead had reached its largest at any point during the entire evening following a successful 2-2 trip to the charity stripe thanks to the efforts of Elijah Eberly, propelling the Bears out to the 60-30 cushion with time starting to wind down.
But just when it had appeared that the night could not possibly get any better for E-Town, Josh Potteiger then checked into the contest.
Playing with the full support of his fellow student section on the opposite sideline, along with his teammates having his back both literally and figuratively nearby on the Bears’ bench, the 5’9 senior guard proceeded to drain a 3-point bomb in the latter stages of the game, causing the by far the loudest eruption of the night in terms of decibel levels, so much so in fact that Hempfield needed to call a timeout while down 67-38 with just 3:07 left to be played.
More than anything though, the Black Knights’ late-game timeout was one used to help get some of their valuable reserves some well-deserved action as well. Case in point, a sweet triple cashed in by Hempfield 6’1 senior guard, Dylan Mellinger, causing the Hempfield contingent to express their own audible roar of satisfaction as well.
Yet even for all of the nice plays authored down the stretch by members of both teams, the damage inflicted by E-Town throughout the duration of the evening far and away overshadowed anything else that had taken place over the 32 minutes play as the Bears effectively punctuated L-L crossover play with a resounding exclamation mark by virtue of their 73-42 victory over Hempfield on Thursday night.
“To be honest, we didn’t care how (Hempfield) played,” E-Town head coach Rocky Parise said candidly regarding the Black Knights’ well-known style. “We wanted to impose our will on them. That was the whole plan.”
“We purposefully didn’t come out in man because we wanted to open up in an aggressive 1-3-1,” said Parise while elaborating on his team’s defensive gameplan heading into the night. “We were okay with giving up a 3-ball or two. We were okay with giving up a layup or two because that would then get the ball rolling and get it going up and down (the floor). Once we started getting it up and down, we got into man, started getting some stops, then we really started getting up and down.”
“It kinda worked out perfect,” Parise added. “I wasn’t happy that (Hempfield) scored 13 points in the first quarter, but after the first quarter, my coaches and I were like, ‘That might not be the worst thing.’”
And as mentioned, for a team that hopes to play well into the month of March, there simply won’t be any time to nitpick who the Bears find on their schedule and their opponent’s style of play once the postseason rolls around. The good news there is that Coach Parise nor his team seem to care all that much either.
“I think the style of high school basketball is more like us these days, trying to get up and down, trying to score,” Parise added in the postgame on Thursday night. “Tonight, we answered that question of, ‘Can we impose our will on somebody and play the way that we want to play?’ I didn’t know that we could, but we did.”
NEXT UP: After their dominating performance put forth against Hempfield, the Bears will now rest up for a few days before their regular season finale on the road at Ephrata on Tuesday night. From there, the road ahead in the long-term still seems rather murky in terms of possible opponents, perhaps when talking about the District 3 playoffs most specifically, but rest assured that E-Town will make an appearance in the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs as well once the brackets are unveiled next week. And if E-Town can put together a string of performances that can mimic anything like what they put on display for those in attendance on Thursday night, don’t be shocked to see the Bears playing at Manheim Township on Valentine’s Day night for the league championship.
For Hempfield, the Black Knights will now look to snap out of their current skid when they return home to take on Pottstown in Landisville on Saturday afternoon for an intriguing late-season nonconference affair. After that, Hempfield will then play in their quintessential regular season finale against McCaskey in the Red Rose city on Tuesday night.
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