Lampeter-Strasburg Fends Off Persistent Challenge As Pioneers Shoot Past Solanco, Remain Perfect In Section Three Race

Written by: on Saturday, January 16th, 2021

 

For most programs, the idea of handing the keys of the car over to a freshman might rank right up there in the highest terms of blasphemy. After all, high school-aged freshmen can’t even legally a drive a real car as it is. But then again, not every program is Lampeter-Strasburg either.

Over the course of the last several years, one could easily make the argument that there has not been a team that has continued to thrive on such a consistent, perennial basis throughout the entirety of the Lancaster-Lebanon League than that of the Pioneers. And as if the idea of winning section titles didn’t seem as if to be something akin to that of a natural birthright, the Pioneers have also been no stranger to boasting arguably the league’s best player during that span of time either while doing so during those times whether be the likes of Ryan Smith or Seth Beers. Yet while the Pioneers figure to once again be among the cream of the crop within the Section Four race this season, there is one key notable difference. The one manning the controls? Freshman Tyler Burton.

Within the local high basketball scene, the behind the scenes chatter could not have been higher than what was being discussed in terms of not only the 2020-21 edition of the Pioneers, but also Burton himself for that matter. After all, it’s hard to simply gloss over the fact that an there is an incoming player coming from the absolute factory of high major, high school talent that is the IMG Academy in Florida. Add in the fact that not only was he transferring to an L-L League outfit, but you combine that with the fact that player in question is a freshman, and you have a storyline that is simply too big to ignore. And while the season is still very, very young, if the first two outings are to serve as any indication for what the remainder of both L-S’ and Burton’s seasons yet to come figure to look like, you might as well continue to pencil in the Pioneers near the top of divisional race for quite some time.

On Friday night however, L-S figured to receive a stern test. Why? The fact that the Solanco Golden Mules were coming to town, eager to turn as many heads as possible should they be able to pull off the biggest upset of the young season thus far should they be able to corral the Pioneers over the course of 32 minutes in the latest edition of this backyard rivalry. And while the Mules would indeed serve notice as to just how far they have come and the collective strides they’ve made over the course of the last year, they were about to find out that unseating L-S was a chore far easier said than done.

One of the reasons as to why Solanco was able to give L-S far more than they likely bargained for out of the gates? Simply the fact that Mules took the fight to the Pioneers right away and refused to back down.

In fact, things could not have started off any better for the visitors from Quarryville considering that 5’8 senior guard, Ethan Clary, was able rain down a triple on the Mules’ opening possession of the contest. From there, the black-clad Mules continued to stay on the attack as fellow backcourt mate, senior Zed Baker, was able to connect on his own trifecta just a few minutes later, keeping Solanco out in front at 10-7 with 4:45 left in the first. Then, as if things could not have gone any better had head coach David Long come prepared with a script written by the best directors in the film business, the Mules only added onto their lead. First, a theft and finish courtesy of 5’11 sophomore, Tyler Burger, making it a 14-9 Solanco cushion, followed by yet another Baker 3-ball, this time upping the Golden Mules’ lead to a half dozen at 17-11 as the opening quarter continued to wind down. That said, for as well as Solanco had played throughout much of the opening frame, their hard work almost seemed all for not considering that they then fell victim to a 4-0 Ty Burton run over the final few minutes and change, carrying with them a slim 17-15 lead into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, Burton made his move.

First, a 3-ball to give the Pioneers their first lead of the contest at 18-17 on the opening L-S offensive possession of the quarter before later following that up with two more daggers from bonus distance, this time giving the homestanding Pioneers the 27-21 lead with four minutes and change remaining in the first half.

Needing to stop the bleeding, Solanco was able to find solace in Tyler Burger as the sophomore guard was able to sink a desperately-needed step-back jumper to help calm the waters somewhat with L-S threatening to run away with it. However, even for as well as Solanco had played throughout much of the first half, the big buckets sunk by Burton and his fellow Pioneers were enough to send the Mules into the recess nearly down by double digits at 32-23.

At the onset of the second half, it largely appeared as if the Mules would be able to replicate some of that same jet fuel they had been able to play with in the first two periods. Case in point, a smooth pullup jumper sunk by 6’4 sophomore forward, Ayden Maggs, cutting the Pioneers’ lead back down to a touchdown at 32-35. Unfortunately, as far as their contingent was concerned, who were allowed into the L-S gym on Friday night it’s worth noting, the Golden Mules’ momentum appeared to be short-lived considering that guess who, Ty Burton, promptly fired in another 3-ball on the Pios’ ensuing offensive trip. If you’re wondering by now how much damage he had been able to inflict throughout the entirety of the night, wonder no more. The L-S freshman went on to post a game-high 26-point effort.

That said, even with L-S starting to flirt with once again running away and hiding the rest of the way, Solanco was able to counter back with a timely bucket of their own, this time thanks to Burger, cutting the Pioneers’ lead back down to size at 37-32 with just under five minutes left to play in the third. Yet even when he wasn’t scoring the rock, Burton appeared to have no issues whatsoever with dishing it off as well, especially considering his late third quarter dime to 6’0 senior forward, Brady Cole, in the waning stages of the frame as Cole’s monstrous three-point play allowed L-S to go back up by eight at 40-32 with 2:58 left in the quarter.

But Solanco refused to go away.

Following the Cole hoop plus the harm, the Golden Mules were able to cut the Pioneers’ lead down to just three courtesy of an enormous triple splashed in by 5’11 sophomore guard, Jadon Yoder, only to see L-S come right down the floor on the very next trip and pepper in a 3-ball of their own, this one from 6’0 junior, Berkley Wagner, upping the L-S to six at 45-39 with now just 1:13 left in the third before the quarter later expired with L-S padding their by a deuce, 47-39.

In the end ultimately, Solanco simply ran out of gas.

It certainly didn’t help matters mind you considering that Burton was able to poke the ball free on defense before finishing the play off with a layup in transition to thwart the Golden Mules’ opening possession of the quarter, making it a double figure L-S lead at 49-39. From there, the Pioneers were able to put the finishing touches on their neighboring adversaries with a beautiful Luka Vranich dime to Beau Heyser underneath, as the L-S junior duo made it a 55-39 Pioneers’ lead with five minutes left to go. Ironically, five would prove to be a seminal number the rest of the way as the Mules were only able to net five points throughout the final eight minutes as L-S would go on to prevail, 60-44.

“One of things I got out of it was that I have a deep bench and I can match up with a lot of different styles,” Lampeter-Strasburg head coach Ed Berryman following his team’s win on Friday night. “Guys came off the bench who gave us energy who did a nice job with that maybe didn’t play as much in the other games like Brady Cole and Beau Heyser. They did a nice job, gave us energy and hit the boards hard,” said Berryman.

And yes, while L-S’ collective pieces played well as an entire entity on Friday evening, enough for them to post a 16-point triumph over a divisional rival no less, it would be impossible to overlook the 5’9 elephant in the room. Truthfully, adding such a key piece to such and already proven and successful formula can possibly lead to the whole ship turning sideways. Fortunately for Coach Berryman and the rest of Pioneers, the inclusion of Ty Burton into the starting lineup has been a much more seamless process than one might originally think.

“Again, he’s from this area,” Berryman was quick to point out regarding Burton’s childhood roots of growing up within the Lampeter-Strasburg district limits. “The guys all know each other. They know he’s a player and that’s he one of the better players in the league. He’s doing a good job of fitting in, finding guys, and stepping up and making plays when we need him to. He did that again tonight where he made some big shots for us,” Berryman mentioned regarding his freshman point guard.

“Early in the year I said, ‘I’m going to handle you sort of like Seth Beers. I’m going to give you some free reign. I’ll pull you in every now and then, but you’re an athlete and you work hard on your game every day. You have the ability’” the L-S head man stated while harkening back to an earlier conversation shared between the two. “He understands that. He said that after our first game when he had 28 points. He said, ‘Coach, I have to get a lot better. I have a lot of work to do.’”

Now, as if that prospect wasn’t already a scary enough for the rest of Section Three and the L-L League to try and come to grips with, Berryman himself appears pleased with the trajectory of his entire squad at this point in the young season.

“Yeah, I’m happy,” he added. “We can do better and we can get better which we will. It’s early. I mean, you have those first two weeks and then all of a sudden, we’re off for three weeks to where it’s like starting all over again. Guys are still getting back into basketball shape after that layoff, but yeah, we’re doing well.”

And as far as the idea of L-S winning on Friday night without playing their A+ game, or while throwing their off-speed pitches if you will, rest assured that Coach Berryman can shed some personal light on that notion as well.

“I played with Jamie Moyer so I’m into off-speed pitches,” Berryman said with a big laugh regarding the former MLB pitcher. “He was my teammate at St. Joe’s, so I know there’s nothing wrong with off-speed pitches. The guy won 255 games in the big leagues, but didn’t throw over 85 mph, so yeah, you can win a lot of games doing that.”

 

NEXT UP: Surprise, surprise. Lampeter-Strasburg is once again sitting atop the Section Three standings with a perfect 3-0 record to their name at the moment. Following their win on Friday night over Solanco, L-S will dip out of Section Three play just briefly on Monday night when they renew their neighborhood rivalry by traveling to Lancaster Mennonite to tangle with the Blazers. From there, L-S will go back on the road Thursday night when they travel to Denver to square off with Cocalico in the first of two games between the two which figures to greatly impact the way in which the Section Three race will ultimately decide itself over the final few weeks of the season.

Granted, while Solanco came up short on Friday night in Lampeter, the collective message that this year’s version of the Golden Mules is far different than that of its recent predecessors must be noted. Now, sitting at an extremely misleading 0-3 mark, Solanco will also travel to Denver, taking their shot on Tuesday night at perhaps unseating the other team currently residing at the top of the section standings, Cocalico. Then, on Friday night, the Mules will finally play their first game at home this season when they welcome Manheim Central into town for a matchup between two teams that should be considered anything but your prototypical “cellar dwellers” this season.

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