Hot-Shooting Pioneers Continue To Sizzle As Lampeter-Strasburg Knocks Off Solanco To Remain Perfect On Young Season

Written by: on Saturday, December 18th, 2021

 

Expectations. They can either make you or break you. Of course, a lot of what hangs in the balance between which of those two pathways you venture on depends on what you’re made of internally. To be sure, what comes out of you when you get squeezed is the true epitome of your underlying character. And to be frank, if we’re talking about the Lampeter-Strasburg, the Pioneers’ early return on investment thus far while trying to carry a boatload of high hopes with them this season has been nothing short of impressive out of the starting blocks.  

To be fair though, this is largely what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the last several years for Pios. Indeed, this is a program that has been able to transcend well above its own perceived judgement of being amongst the “lower” rungs of the Lancaster-Lebanon League considering the constant biases that always comes baked-in towards the favor of Section One and Section Two. Ok, fine. Think what you will about them at your own peril, but this group is a full-fledged, venomous threat to plant their flag at the top of the league summit once again, something the program did for the very first time back in 2017. Suffice to say, with a ridiculously talented nucleus which stuck together throughout nearly the entirety of the offseason – a slice that most certainly includes the starting five- the expectations for L-S from the outset of this season were rather um, sizable to put it mildly. And while it may only be a small resume slapped together thus far throughout the first week of the season, the Pioneers made the trek down to Quarryville on Friday night to tangle with their rivals to the south, the Solanco Golden Mules, in a quest to try and remain perfect on the young season in a Section Three divisional clash. Oh yeah, speaking of that very same division, the Pioneers raised the curtain on that portion of their schedule just 24 hours earlier with an emphatic dismantling of Manheim Central, one of the teams presumed to give L-S perhaps their toughest opposition, in a 70-47 final decision that was never truly in doubt.

Speaking of their competition on this night, they too had expectations of their own to try and live up to.

Yes, while the general consensus on the outside world may be that L-S is the undisputed gorilla that the rest of Section Three will have to try and get past this year, there are plenty of challengers seen waiting in the wings to try and hurl their stone at Goliath. Case in point, Solanco.

In terms of building a program, 2021-22 comes with all the makings of a year that may just end up being the moment in time in which the Golden Mules are finally able to turn the corner. Sure, losing a consistent mainstay from the last several years the likes of Zed Baker certainly doesn’t help matters, but this is a group under third-year head coach David Long has been consistently grinding its way into a place to where Solanco can become of the more consistent programs the L-L League has to offer. After all, a simple look at the history books tells us that the Golden Mules can indeed be exactly that. And with what everyone hopes turns out to be full Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff bracket this year along with a totally wide-open field in the Section Three race, why can’t Solanco be the team that rises up towards the top? If that’s the case though, Friday night for the Golden Mules against L-S would prove to not only be a litmus test game, but a crucial game overall considering that Solanco entered the night coming off a tough, 37-28 defeat at the hands of Garden Spot in their last time out, a game which admittedly put the Mules behind the 8-ball somewhat at 0-1 to start section play. If nothing else though, having Friday night serve as the Mules’ home opener in front of “The Black Hole” student section would have appeared to likely give Solanco just a little extra fuel for such a high-profile affair. 

Yet in the end, at least on this night, this would prove to be an evening in which the Pioneers would successfully demonstrate to all in attendance that the sum of their total parts is the true reason as to why they find themselves being discussed amongst the upper-class of the league.

To say that L-S was able to spray in the ball in from long-range at a high clip on Friday night would be a bit of a disservice. In fact, once all was said and done, the Pioneers proceeded to pour an even dozen of treys upon their neighbors to the south. So, needless to say, the visitors began their prolific assault almost right from the opening tip.

There, in the opening eight minutes, L-S’ Isaiah Parido did his part by pumping a trifecta in the early going to get the Pioneers’ onslaught started, a bucket which gave the Pios a 12-3 advantage with the opening quarter just under halfway expired. And while Solanco would do their best to try and counter suit – a feat best evidenced by junior Ayden Magges rifling in a 3-ball of his own to aid in the Mules’ effort- the Pioneers ability to score in bunches over the span of the final minutes of the opening quarter proved to be the difference as a pair of bombs sunk by Parido and Ben Wert respectively helped propel the Pioneers into the second stanza with ownership of the 20-8 lead after one.

Did we mention that L-S was rather lethal from beyond the arc on Friday night?

Case in point, yet another dagger sunk thanks to the work of Parido -who would go on to finish with a very nice 15-point effort on the evening- from bonus distance which gave the Pioneers the sizable 25-8 cushion just mere minutes into the second quarter. Then, after largely being held in check all night thanks to the Golden Mules’ collective attention paid to him defensively, L-S’ prolific high-scoring sophomore, Ty Burton, finally got himself loose from the Solanco grasp as the wiry guard knocked down a trey of his own right in front of the Solanco student section, a bucket which made it a 30-9 affair in favor of the guests with five minutes still left to tick off the first half clock. Later, even if he wasn’t seen scoring the ball, Burton had no qualms whatsoever with getting his teammates involved either, a facet of his all-around game that was evidenced by his sweet dish after slicing through the lane thrown out to a wide-open Chase Smucker standing alone in the corner, as the Pioneers’ freshman guard dialed up a trey of his own off the feed, yet another dent into the Solanco mojo as Smucker’s trifecta made it a 38-11 count at that point in time.

Speaking of freshman, Solanco has one of their own that put on a show throughout much of Friday night as well.

In a league of nothing but impressive young stars who seemed to be playing well above what their age, there’s another one that can be seen hooping down in the southern end of the county as well.

Yes, Solanco’s Noah Bailey appears to be next in line when it comes to household names that we all will become familiar with over the course of the next four years while following L-L League basketball. And on this night, playing in his very first home start, Bailey didn’t seem fazed in the least by the bright lights and big stage of the moment. In fact, once all was said and done, the Mules’ fundamentally-sound 9th grader was able to pump in a game-high 18-point scoring output once the evening ended. Granted, for a first half that by and large was dominated by L-S, Bailey was able to help give his squad a boost of momentum heading into the intermission considering his late 5-0 flurry, a late swing of confidence in favor of the hosts despite the comfortable 38-18 cushion that the Pioneers had already built for themselves upoo entering the third quarter.

In terms of the third quarter on Friday night, just go ahead and label it “The Berkley Wagner Show.”

It’s true. After Solanco’s Ayden Maggs and L-S’ Ben Wert took their turns at throwing back and forth 3-ball jabs at one another to begin the third frame, Wagner proceeded to steal the stage for the remainder of the period.

After sinking a pair of triples in quick succession -a six-point salvo that upped the Pioneers’ lead to a 52-30 difference which prompted a Solanco timeout with 2:48 left to play in the quarter- the L-S senior guard then proceeded to display some of the very same toughness that can come along with being the starting quarterback on a district championship football silver medalist outfit, as Wagner proceeded to then take a charge on the defensive end following the aforementioned Solanco timeout. Then, obviously being undeterred with the contact he sustained just moments prior in his fall to the floor, Wager then sunk yet another 3-ball in the waning stages of the third stanza, a late dose of L-S juice that helped send the Pioneers into the final eight minutes with the 57-33 advantage. And on the night as a whole, Wagner would prove to be the one who would pace the L-S effort by authoring a team-high 16-point performance for himself, thanks in large part to the trifecta of triples he rained down in the third quarter alone.

Yet even with the outcome all but a formality at this stage, there were still plenty of guys eager at the opportunity of checking into the game late and having some nice moments of their own at the varsity level.

Case in point, a nice bucket inside by way of L-S’ Owen Filson, a deuce which made it a 64-35 Pioneers’ lead with 4:10 left to play. Shortly thereafter, a floater in the lane thanks to the handiwork of Chase Smucker quickly followed suit which only continued to up the Pioneers’ lead from there.

Yet even though the margin that point in time was far too large for the Mules to try and overcome, Solanco continued to show fight down the stretch, no better perhaps best exemplified than by Noah Bailey’s traditional three-point in the waning minutes which made it a 70-38 affair by that point in time.

And while L-S as a collective unit was able to knock down triples seemingly at will, arguably their best one out of the entire grouping would then take place with the clock winding down.

With the fourth quarter clock all but set to expire, L-S’ Trent Wagner got loose from the Golden Mules’ defense and found himself with the ball in his hands. Fittingly, just like many of his brothers had done so throughout much of the contest up until that point, the Pioneers’ sophomore guard would prove to be just as deadly as the rest of them by promptly knocking down a 3-ball of his own to make good on the opportunity for what undoubtedly seemed to be the highlight of the entire L-S contingent’s evening, both players and fans alike.

Then, once the 32-minute outing did ultimately wrap up, the final score would indeed serve notice that this had been another successful business trip complied by the Pioneers given their decisive 75-40 triumph at the hands of Solanco.

 

NEXT UP: For this L-S bunch, it’s a much-deserved, brief respite before their next time taking to the floor to try and keep their perfect record alive and well. And once they do return to action, it will be for the final bookend of a two-game series that comes against the Pios’ most fiercest of opponents following the Solanco contest, this game coming against what is arguably one of the best stories to emerge out of the L-L League throughout the first few days of the season, Conestoga Valley, against a Buckskins bunch most definitively eager to try and take their shot at knocking off L-S in what figures to be one of the league’s most-anticipated matchups yet to date.

As far as Solanco is concerned, there is still plenty of things to build from Friday night despite what the final score may indicate. In fact, if any upcoming L-S opponents are looking at how to try and keep the clamps down on Ty Burton, a brief look at the tape in terms of what the Golden Mules were able to do on Friday night could serve as a good baseline to start with. And while L-S’ prolific shooting proved to be the biggest difference on this night, it’s certainly not as if Solanco is devoid of talent by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, had the Mules been able to convert some easy bunnies early on while also being able to avoid a bout with the pesky turnover bug, it could be argued that the framework for the entire contest may have taken on a much, much different narrative had those things swung in Solanco’s favor in the early going. Alas though, in the end it all means that the Golden Mules are now looking up at the rest of their Section Three brethren with an 0-2 record to their name before entering the coming week. However, there is always an opportunity waiting on the other side, something that certainly holds true for Solanco on Tuesday night when they welcome the Cocalico Eagles into town, a squad fresh off a workmanlike 33-26 victory over Garden Spot on Friday, in what suddenly becomes a very important contest within the division just a few days before Christmas.

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