Lancaster County Christian Holds Steady, Makes Winning Plays As Lions Hold Off Hard-Charging Lancaster Country Day In Nonconference Clash
Written by: Andy Herr on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020
At the start of the last decade, the college sports world had its overall landscape rocked with the restructuring of conference realignment. Yes, with the presumption of some major, well-known conferences possibly going under when coupled with the prospect of some conferences expanding out to a possible 16-team “superconferences,” numerous universities were left scrambling for lifeboats while aboard ships they had presumed to be sinking. Sure enough, the Lancaster-Lebanon League was no different during the time of this most recent decade as well.
Granted, while the situation surrounding the L-L League was far less dire than that of their collegiate counterparts, they too found themselves expanding outward over the last few years.
By now, unless you’ve been living under some sort of rock of course, you’re well-aware that Octorara and Lancaster Country Day were the schools that whole-heartedly accepted the L-L’s most recent round of invitations. That said, many were left wondering if the inclusion of Octorara and Country Day may have really just been a “Phase I” of sorts regarding additional expansion in the not-to-distant future. And while only time will tell if the seismic plates will continue to shift to where a school such as Lancaster County Christian –sometimes referred to be their old name, Living Word Academy—will perhaps become a future member of the Lancaster-Lebanon League someday, their Monday night battle against Lancaster Country Day would be a nonconference matchup against a Cougars squad with little to no margin for error given the fact that Country Day found themselves sitting on the #10 line in the District 3-A field coming into the evening, the very last spot awarded in that bracket prior to Friday’s cutoff date for final seeding.
And while it would truly be a back and forth affair the entire way through, this would end up being a night in which the CCAC would prevail over top of the L-L.
In terms of starting fast, you’d be hard-pressed to find an individual who had begun Monday night’s game with more passion than Country Day’s Luke Forman.
After establishing himself in the post on the offensive end of things, the Cougars’ 6’3 junior forward ending up scoring LCD’s first six points of evening, putting the visitors up 6-3 through the first 1:40 of action. And when he wasn’t mixing it up inside on offense, Forman clearly had no qualms with getting after it defensively either, with his two consecutive blocks negating a pair of would-be Lancaster County Christian shots from point-blank range later in the opening period.
However, almost as if to be expected, the Lions came charging right back as the first quarter progressed onward.
In fact, after a pair of buckets contributed by Luke Miklas and Jeremy Sensenig respectively, County Christian had pulled within one at 10-9 before the Cougars would eventually add one more deuce prior to the end of the first eight minutes, as Country Day helped put a bow on the first quarter with the 12-9 lead.
That said, the waning minutes of Monday night’s first quarter proved that LCCS was coming with an all-out vengeance to overtake the scoreboard.
Sure enough, the Lions then captured their first lead of the ballgame courtesy of a sweet trifecta knocked down by way of senior tri-captain, Justin Peifer, as the hosts had gone on to claim the 14-12 advantage. In fact, the Lions’ cushion would then swell up to as many as five shortly thereafter before an old-school, three-point bucketed by Country Day’s Luke Forman trimmed the County Christian lead back down to a pair at 20-18 with 4:20 left before the break. Yet even when it may have appeared that the Cougars had finally solved the LCCS riddle in the middle part of the second stanza, the Lions, namely Justin Peifer, clearly had other ideas as the LCCS senior proceeded to author his own 5-0 salvo, putting the homestanding Lions back up by five at 25-20 a mere 20 seconds later.
But to their credit, Country Day would end the second frame with a late flourish, eventually heading into the half even with their hosts at 28-28 following a late triple dialed up by LCD’s sharp-shooting sniper, sophomore guard, Grant Landis.
In the early part of the third quarter, LCCS had appeared to douse the late second half Country Day flames considering the Lions jumped their hosts early on and proceeded to saunter out to the 32-28 lead over the course of the opening minute and change.
So, needing someone to step up and help stop their current bleeding, the Cougars called upon a familiar face who had bailed them out of jail throughout much of the first half on Monday night.
As mentioned, Lancaster Country Day’s Luke Forman had played with an unbridled determination that seemed hard for the Lions to try and match, particularly when battling in the post. And sure enough, LCD’s junior forward was up to the challenge once again as Forman proceeded to tally a pair of back-to-back buckets inside to aid the Cougars’ cause, vaulting LCD back into the lead at 35-34 with 4:09 still left to play in the third. From there though, the Cougars would be able to pad their cushion up even further as a fast break layup in transition by sophomore guard, Chris Hedbavny, put LCD up by five at 39-34 with now 2:20 left in the quarter.
Even still, putting LCCS away once and for all was sure to be a task that would be far easier said than actually done.
Case in point, a sensational three-point play put together by way of LCCS’ Luke Miklas, as the Lions’ sophomore had brought his white-clad troops back even at 39-39, before seeing Country Day later head off into the final frame with the 41-39 lead.
While the game itself had been even in every sense of the word on Monday night, there was one player who had appeared to be head and shoulders above much of the competition out on the floor: Lancaster County Christian’s Charles Hall.
If his game-high 23-point outburst wasn’t enough to sway the jury, the plays put together by the LCCS senior, particularly down the stretch, were certainly more than adequate. For proof of that, look no further than his very own 4-0 rally which had helped the Lions claw back on equal ground at 45-45 with the final quarter just now starting to get underway.
But with their playoff lives somewhat hanging in the balance, it probably should have come as no surprise to see the Cougars right the ship and rally right back over the course of the next few minutes as a Chris Hedbavny triple and Luke Forman hoop inside, en route to Forman’s team-high 20-point performance, had helped Country Day go back in front at 50-47.
So, with the outcome still well within doubt, perhaps there would be one play that could possibly end up swinging the pendulum of momentum in one team’s favor to directly affect the outcome. Well, fortunately as far as LCCS was concerned, said play would end up going in their direction.
After securing a turnover thanks to the Lions’ handiwork down on the defensive end, Charles Hall had leaked out from behind the Country Day defense and proceeded to throw down an emphatic, one-handed tomahawk dunk, putting the Lions up by a penny at 51-50 with 2:50 left to play in the fourth. Following the emphatic Hall dunk, the Lions then see their lead climb up to three at 53-50 shortly thereafter thanks to a bucket inside by way of Justin Peifer.
And if he wasn’t dunking on the competition in both and literal and figurative matter, Charles Hall was equally just as proficient playing below the rim as he was above it. For proof of that, look no further than his free throw shooting down the home stretch on Monday evening.
With his team narrowly protecting their lead in the face on the current and persistent Lancaster Country Day onslaught, Hall proceeded to toe the charity stripe and calmly sink both in the offering, upping the Lions’ lead to 55-50 with 58.7 seconds left to go.
However, on the Cougars’ next trip down the floor, LCD proceeded to throw in a long-range bomb to help make the eventual outcome seem even murkier, as a fearless triple cashed in by freshman guard, Christian Hoin, trimmed the LCCS lead back down to two at 55-53 with now 18.5 ticks of the clock left before the final horn.
Yet once again, Charles Hall would be able to make good on his next trip to the foul line once more, this time putting the Lions up 57-53 with 15.9 to go. Ironically enough though, yet another Lancaster Country Day trifecta, this one sunk by senior guard, Adam Majid, sliced the Lions’ lead back down to the slimmest of margins at 57-56 with just 8.4 left to go.
Need to create some distance between yourself and a pesky houseguest who just won’t go away? Call upon Charles Hall.
Just as he had done throughout numerous stages of the game’s final quarter, Hall would end up delivering the LCCS goods from the charity stripe with the game on the line, as the senior wing’s most recent 2-2 trip –effectively punctuating his perfect 6-6 free throw shooting stretch within the game’s final minute—helped prove to be the final remedy for their Cougar problem as Country Day’s last-second shot at the buzzer fell short, giving Lancaster County Christian the hard-fought 59-56 triumph.
NEXT UP: After dropping their Monday night affair at the hands of their fellow county private school brethren, Lancaster Country Day now finds themselves with what appears to be nary a margin for error on Tuesday night when the Cougars welcome an especially dangerous Pequea Valley bunch into town on the final night of Lancaster-Lebanon League play. That said, if the Cougars can ultimately punch their ticket into the dance, you’d certainly have to like their long-term chances all things being equal considering the gauntlet that is the L-L regular season could ultimately prove its weight in gold come tournament time against single-A competition if LCD has any desires of making it three consecutive trips to the Giant Center for the right to compete for District 3-A supremacy in a handful of weeks.
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