Hempfield Turns Away Spring-Ford In Saturday Afternoon Affair
Written by: Andy Herr on Monday, December 18th, 2017
Don’t be taken by surprise if the most popular phrase uttered around Landisville this winter is “What can you do for an encore?” The question of course being asked about the Hempfield Black Knights boys basketball program. A task that may seem easier said than done when you consider that the Knights were able to advance all the way to the Elite Eight of the PIAA playoffs last year in the inaugural year of the 6A classification. And although graduation saw the loss of some key members of last year’s squad, the core nucleus of that team is returning for yet another season and thus far, the early returns have yielded nothing but positive results as Hempfield had roared out of the gates to an undefeated record. On Saturday, fresh off a victory over Conestoga Valley, the Black Knights went back to work by welcoming a tough bunch of Rams from Spring-Ford. And once again, the beat continued on with Hempfield notching yet another victory.
Despite the long bus ride coming out of Royersford, the Rams got off to a quick start putting Hempfield behind the 8 ball. After a pair of Robert Bobeck free throws, Spring-Ford was in command with the 8-4 advantage with just three minutes of game action having gone by. Their early “commanding” lead was short-lived however as senior guard Anthony Alston, who had a monster game contributing 17 points to the winning effort, scored back to back lay ins to put Hempfield back in front 11-10.
Held scoreless until the waning moment of the first quarter, Hempfield’s prolific senior forward Ryan Moffatt, tallied his first bucket of the contest with a tough bucket inside to put the Black Knights up 13-12, but that lead too was not one to stand the test of time as a triple by Spring-Ford’s Ryan Hagan gave the lead right back to the visiting Rams as the quarter expired with Spring-Ford in front 15-13.
Spring-Ford and Hagan were able to continue to their hot start as the junior point guard splashed another trey to start the second frame with fellow junior Noah Baker following suit to increase the Spring-Ford lead to 20-13, leading to a Hempfield timeout.
Whatever message that was relayed by Hempfield head coach Danny Walck in the timeout seemed to provide the right medicine as the Black Knights responded by going on to surpass the Rams throughout the remainder of the second quarter. Coming out the break, Moffatt was able to chip in two more to his game-high total off 22 points with a sweet Euro-step move to bring the Black Knights within 5 at 20-15 before Elijah Washington contributed a hoop of his own before the Knights and Rams were eventually deadlocked at 20-20 with 4:35 left in the half.
Hempfield then continued to head back across the pond to find their offense as yet another Euro-step move to the tin, one of several displayed by a handful of Black Knights in the first half with these honors going to junior guard Elijah Washington, put Hempfield back in front at 24-21 which was the score at the break once the last remaining minute ticked off the clock.
After a back and forth start between the two squads to begin the second half, Hempfield was able to get the first type of separation on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Ryan Moffatt was able to finish through contact to give the Knights the 31-27 lead in the early portions of the third stanza.
Although getting in a third quarter hole, this tough crew of Rams refused to back down from this Saturday afternoon fight. After a Ryan Hagan floater in the lane, good for two of his 12 points on the afternoon, things were again all square at 31-31 with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter. But when the going got on tough on this day, Hempfield called on Ryan Moffatt to carry the load who was more than willing and able to do the job.
After a hard-charging drive to the cup, Moffatt stepped outside and promptly knocked down a 3 ball from behind the arc which saw the Hempfield lead swell to 40-33 with the third quarter starting to wind down. Hempfield would then see their lead grow to an eight point margin following a stick-back by senior forward Donovan Green, but Spring-Ford continued to stick around, refusing to go down easy as evidenced by a trifecta by senior guard Nestor Diaz which brought the Rams back within 3 at 42-39 when the third quarter clock hit zeros.
When the fourth quarter began, Spring-Ford rattled off a 4-0 run which was capped off by a tough bucket in the paint by Noah Baker, Spring-Ford’s leading scorer on the afternoon who chipped in 17 points, put the Rams back in front 43-42. But the seesaw battle raged on from there as a nifty reverse lay in by Anthony Alston put the Black Knights back in the driver seat at 44-43, wrapping up an exciting first minute of action in the final frame.
Following a three point play by Ryan Moffatt shortly thereafter, it appeared that Hempfield may have finally found the final answer to the Spring-Ford riddle as Moffatt put Hempfield back in front 47-45 with 5:43 left to play. But that only turned out to be wishful thinking.
Spring-Ford continued to display why they will likely be a headache for other teams in the Liberty League this season as a baseline bucket by Harrison Pierce cut the Hempfield lead down to slimmest out of margins at 50-49.
Needing to stop another possible Spring-Ford rally, Hempfield found their man in Elijah Washington as his take to the rack pushed the Black Knight lead up to 3 at 52-49, forcing a Spring-Ford timeout with 2:43 left to go. That’s the when Hempfield was able to put this one in the bag.
After another bucket by who else, Ryan Moffatt, the Black Knight senior star showed off his basketball IQ by stealing the inbounds pass to effectively steal the wind out of the Spring-Ford sails.
One of the key factors that separates a good team from a great team is their ability to finish teams off from the foul line, specifically with the game on the line heading down the final furlong. And on Saturday, Hempfield was able to show why they fit into the description of the latter adjective as the Black Knights were able to seal it from the stripe with the key cog being Teagan Hazel.
With the Black Knights leading 54-49 with just over one minute left, the senior forward went to line and proceeded to calmly knock down the pair of free throws placed before him, then following that up with another 2-2 trip from the line to give Hempfield the separation that was needed to send them home a winner. Drew Groft was then able to put a bow on the Hempfield victory as the senior guard drove to hole for a lay in in the final minute which put the finishing touches on this 67-55 Black Knight triumph over a hard-nosed Spring-Ford crew.
NEXT UP: Hempfield, as does the rest of the L-L League, now begin preparations for the first week of a Monday, Wednesday, Friday section schedule. The Black Knights’ week will consist of trips to Penn Manor and Warwick sandwiched between a monster game back at home against longtime rival and fellow unbeaten, Manheim Township.
Spring-Ford will look to regroup from Saturday’s battle as the Rams welcome the Warriors from Methacton for a home date on Tuesday evening.
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