Lampeter-Strasburg Starts Fast, Handles Solanco In Section Three Rivalry Tilt As Pioneers Remain Perfect In League Play
Written by: Andy Herr on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
Sometimes in life, waiting can be the hardest part. Ironically enough, as it related to Lampeter-Strasburg and Solanco most specifically, that was indeed the case when it came to these two backyard rivals going up against one another on the hardwood for the first time this year.
Last week if you recall, the Lancaster-Lebanon League Boys’ Basketball slate was effectively scrubbed entirely clean on Tuesday thanks to an early dose of Old Man Winter’s weather in the afternoon and evening. And once the cancellations started rolling in, that meant the Pioneers and Golden Mules would have to wait just a little while in terms of either one of the two squads claiming the first set of bragging rights against one another this season.
For L-S, the Pioneers’ long-awaited matchup against the Golden Mules once and for all may not have been a case where the delay in their rivalry tilt had made their hearts grow all that fonder of seeing their fellow neighbors. After all, to say that Pioneers had arrived in Quarryville in a foul mood on Monday evening may not be doing it justice. In fact, they were likely far, far testier.
To be sure, it’s been a Jekyll and Hyde season of sorts for L-S. For starters, the Pios entered the week with a perfect 5-0 league record to their name, but a 7-5 mark overall, including a perplexing 2-5 mark against nonconference foes, not to mention a stretch that saw L-S go a combined 0-4 in tournament competition this year at Lower Dauphin and Middletown respectively. The good news though? Most definitely the fact that seeing the Golden Mules sitting on the opposite bench gave them all the fuel necessary to wipe the bitter taste out of their mouths following the Pioneers’ 55-36 setback at the hands of Wilson on Saturday night.
Speaking of the Golden Mules, the 2019-2020 campaign unfortunately has seen its fair share of long nights given Solanco’s 2-11 overall record coming into their Monday grudge match with their pair of wins coming in back-to-back fashion against Ephrata and Donegal respectively back in the middle part of December. And much in the same vein as their counterparts, having the opportunity of going chin-to-chin against a heated rival can ultimately ignite even the longest of the seasons, even with just under half of the regular season slate left to trudge through.
Yet with all that being said, it would quickly become very apparent on Monday night that L-S was out for blood.
In the initial first few minutes of the contest, the Pioneers proceeded to get out of the gates strong, eventually taking ownership of the 4-0 lead following a nice stick-back from point-blank range courtesy of 6’4 sophomore big man, Nick DelGrande. From there however, the Golden Mules would come right back in the face of their guests and counter with a deep triple cashed in by 6’1 junior guard, Colesen Shaeffer, trimming the Pioneers’ lead down to the slimmest of margins at 4-3 with the opening quarter not even two minutes old.
And while it may have been impossible to tell at that point, that would later prove to be all the closer that Solanco would get for the remainder of the evening.
Immediately following the Shaeffer trifecta for the Mules, the Pioneers proceeded to come right down the floor and pump in one of their own, this one thanks to the handiwork of 5’11 senior sniper, Darin Landis, allowing L-S to gain back some of that earlier breathing room as the opening quarter continued to develop and take shape.
Speaking of taking shape, that’s exactly what the Pioneers’ lead began to down over the course of the next few minutes.
While playing with the aid of a long-reaching, stingy defense that seemed to feature scores of Pioneers get their mitts into darn near every passing lane that the Mules saw available to them, L-S quickly saw their defensive prowess manifest itself on the offensive end as well considering a pair of Seth Beers’ jumpers that were sandwiched around yet another Darin Landis 3-ball, ushered the blue-clad contingent out to the gargantuan 17-3 advantage with the opening quarter now past its halfway point.
From there, the L-S cushion only continued to swell in size and stature as yet another Pioneer triple, this one hoisted by 5’11 senior guard Caleb Smoker, gave the guests the 20-3 lead with Solanco being forced to burn a timeout with 3:02 still left to play in the opening frame.
Fortunately for the Mules, Colesen Shaeffer was up to the task yet again following the loud and boisterous initial L-S outburst by sinking a desperately-needed pullup jumper just outside the paint in the wake of the L-S salvo, while simultaneously ending the Mules’ lengthy scoring drought.
But from there, L-S would only continue to remain white-hot from behind the arc, a feat perhaps best evidenced by yet another Darin Landis 3-ball, good for 3 more on his 16-point effort on Monday night, effectively sending the Pioneers into the second quarter with firm and decisive ownership of the 27-5 lead.
While it would certainly be fair to say that the first quarter was one that the Golden Mules would have very much have liked to erase from their collective memory banks, the homestanding Mules appeared no worse for the wear given their initial handful of few possessions once inside the second frame as a Colesen Shaeffer 3-ball when coupled with a Jalen Henry steal and layup in transition allowed the Mules to trim the L-S lead down to 31-10 with 5:10 still left to go before the intermission.
In fact, Solanco would continue their improved play over the next minute and change as well considering a trifecta dialed up by Solanco 6’1 junior forward, Ryan Smith, got the Mules under the 20-point barrier at 32-15 with nearly four minutes left to tick off the first half clock.
Yet just when Solanco could have likely felt encouraged somewhat by the incremental progress they had made over the span of the initial minutes of the second frame, the Pioneers then arrived on the scene to extinguish and douse the Golden Mules’ flames. When it came to putting out the Solanco-generated burn, a pair of triples (surprise surprise) courtesy of Caleb Smoker and Isaac Beers respectively, eventually allowed the visitors to head into the halftime recess with the emphatic 44-25 lead.
In the second half, the Pioneers only continued to roll onward.
For a first half that certainly featured plenty of splash plays authored by the L-S guards and their ability to fill it up from deep, the early minutes of the third quarter on Monday night featured the Pioneers’ equally imposing inside game as well. Case in point, Nick DelGrande authoring two gorgeous moves inside the paint in successive fashion to only aid to the L-S cause even further. On the night, while his teammates appeared to be rather fluent in terms of firing in 3-ball upon 3-ball, DelGrande proved to be an equally imposing force for which the Golden Mules simply could not contend, as the Pioneers’ 6’4 sophomore big man went to share team-high scoring honors with Darin Landis, as the Pioneers’ inside-outside duo finished with the evening by bucketing 16-points apiece.
And once the third quarter eventually expired, L-S continued to keep their foot planted firmly on the gas pedal, refusing to let Solanco even get a whiff of smelling the lead, as the Pioneers rolled into the final frame with the commanding 60-36 advantage.
Speaking of the three-point play, Seth Beers clearly had no issues whatsoever in the way they were generated. In fact, even with Beers going on to tally just a pair of triples from behind the arc for the entireity of the night, the L-S floor general proceeded to finish one off of the old-fashioned variety as Beers’ hoop plus the harm with the foul shoot added on top just for good measure gave the Pioneers the 66-39 lead with the fourth quarter still well in its infancy.
As far as the Golden Mules were concerned, the game had now reached a point to where Solanco was now playing for the “eye in the sky,” with the game film still recording with the purpose of later proving who truly wanted to be out on the floor and make the most of their opportunity. In that regard, one must certainly start with Jalen Henry as the Mules’ 6’0 senior guard finished a hard-charging drive off with a nifty finish at the cup before getting his name in the assist column by throwing a sweet dish off to a streaking Ethan Clary shortly thereafter, as the Mules’ 5’7 junior guard finished things off with a deuce at the tin to shrink the Pioneers’ lead down to 20 at 67-47 with roughly three minutes and change still left to go.
Yet when speaking of the three-ball, it never really went away and betrayed L-S throughout the entirety of the night.
In fact, just in the waning minutes alone, the Pioneers were able to keep their torrid shooting touch alive and well as a pair of triples sunk by 6’2 junior guard, Austin Stoltzfus, had effectively served as the exclamation mark with time winding down, as the Pioneers made the quick but enjoyable bus ride back to their home campus after a successful 75-49 takedown of their rivals to the south on Monday night.
NEXT UP: As far as L-S is concerned the taxing, mental war of competing within Section Three on a nightly basis certainly comes at the Pioneers like a ton of bricks on Tuesday night given the fact that the Pioneers welcome a slightly under the radar Cocalico crew that is sitting right there and nipping at the Pioneers’ heels in terms of claiming supremacy of the Section Three race once all is said and done within the matter of just a few weeks. After that, the Pioneers must then mount up and ride again on Friday night when they make a detour and stop off in New Holland to tangle with a Garden Spot bunch that is also lurking the shadows to perhaps rise up and strike and in hopes of stealing one of Section Three’s two alloted slots for the L-L League playoffs which will formally commence the second week of February. Then, ironically enough, the Pioneers will then close the week out with a game against another neighboring rival, Conestoga Valley, for an early Saturday afternoon tilt inside CV’s venerable Rill Gymnasium.
For Solanco, the Mules know full-well that the Section Three slate will offer them no favors whatsoever in terms allowing them to slow down and catch their breath. That especially rings true when you consider the fact that Solanco must now board the bus and head up to Manheim on Tuesday evening to match wits against a rapidly improving Manheim Central Barons squad that is eager to make a name for themselves over the course of this upcoming stretch run. After their road trip up to the cozy and intimate confines of the Barons’ home gym come Tuesday, the Mules then return back home to Quarryville for a Thursday night matchup against another team that hails from a distant Lancaster County outpost, Octorara, and a Braves team that must get busy if they wish to start making good on reaching the postseason in their own right.
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