Colyer, Pequea Valley Stand Tall As Braves Tame Beavers
Written by: Andy Herr on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
Every night in the L-L League has it’s fair share of big games. To most, one would assume that these are the type of games that pit section leaders against those near the top of the standings as they battle it out down the final furlong for division supremacy. Sure, those games are “big” on their own merit, but there are others that are just as intriguing if you know where to look. Case in point, Monday night’s Section 3 battle between Lebanon Catholic and Pequea Valley.
On the surface, many may have disregarded the early week game between the Beavers and Braves as just another “run of the mill” Section 3 contest. But there’s more to the story than just purely wins and losses here.
There’s no denying it. Lebanon Catholic is a much improved ballclub from even last year. Relying on an unheralded and underappreciated senior class spearheaded by the efforts of Kyle Kauffman, Hummy Valerio, and Nate Hatzfield, the Beavers certainly pass the eye test in terms of their heart, fight, and a willingness and desire to compete for all 32 minutes, even while playing with one of the shortest hands in the entire Lancaster-Lebanon League.
Although the wins haven’t come easy for the Beavers this year, especially when strictly within the 3 standings, some may have scoffed at that notion considering Lebanon Catholic entered Monday night’s showdown in Kinzers still winless against their divisional foes. But this is a year of building a foundation. A foundation that appears to be being built on solid ground with the leadership and vision set forth by construction foreman, turned basketball coach, Wee Sanchez. And even despite the fact that Lebanon Catholic entered the night with a goose egg in their Section 3 win total, the Beavers had to certainly be liking their chances as they traveled down to eastern Lancaster County to line up against a Pequea Valley squad which they played to just a ten point difference in the initial matchup between the two combatants back in December.
For Pequea Valley, the narrative appeared to be nearly identical. Playing for their third coach in as many seasons, the Braves have experienced a tough year on the hardwood in their own right. But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the school located amongst the quiet, rolling countryside. No, far from it.
In fact, in the early going this season it appeared that PV was here to make waves. The Braves won their first game of the season in the Tulpehocken Tip Off Tournament to earn the right to play for a championship in just their second night of action. A feat that not even some of the best teams in L-L League can say for themselves this season. Although Pequea Valley would come up short in the championship title game of the Tulpy Tip-Off Tournament, walking home with the silver medal in tow, it seemed that Pequea Valley would be a name to be reckoned with as the season progressed.
But just like their counterparts on Monday evening, the wins have proven to be hard to come by this year for the Braves from Pequea. Coming into the night with just one Section 3 win during this campaign, ironically against Lebanon Catholic, the Braves were undeniably anxious to taste victory once more when the Beavers came calling.
Although Lebanon Catholic would take an early lead once the game got underway following a 3 ball that was string music from senior forward Kyle Kauffman, Pequea Valley struck back with a vengeance. Following the Kaffman trey, the Braves proceeded to rattle off the game’s next eight points a step in triple dialed up by PV’s sensational freshman guard Devon Colyer made it an 11-3 Brave lead at the 4:20 mark of the first quarter.
Thankfully for the Beavers who hail from Lebanon City, senior Nate Hatzfield was on the scene to provide assistance in weathering the early PV storm as the senior forward scored a tough bucket inside, finishing through contact, to extinguish the early Pequea Valley onslaught and make it an 11-5 ballgame in PV’s favor at the 3:22 mark of the opening quarter.
But Pequea Valley would have an answer for that as well as the Braves proceeded to author a 4-0 run almost immediately after which was capped off by a sweet dish from senior forward Luke Purcell to freshman Devon Colyer standing in the corner for a trey which upped the PV lead to 15-5 with just over two minutes remaining in the game’s opening stanza. Once the first quarter did finally expire, Pequea Valley would be able to do one better on the point total as the Braves closed the curtain on a dominating first quarter performance, ascending to the 16-5 advantage.
Yet for as much as Pequea Valley seemed to control the game’s first eight minutes, the second quarter was anything but a one-sided affair. Even though Pequea Valley’s Luke Purcell was able to drain a triple to get things started for the Braves once inside the second quarter, a change in defense would prove to be exactly what the doctor ordered for Lebanon Catholic.
With the Beavers employing a halfcourt trap right at the timeline, turnovers quickly beset Pequea Valley. Aided by two over and back calls whistled against Pequea Valley, Lebanon Catholic, or more precisely Kyle Kauffman was able to find the offensive rhythm as the senior promptly canned back to back triples to narrow PV’s lead down to five at 20-15 with just two minutes gone by in the second quarter of play. But the Beavers weren’t done there.
Now deciding to pick up the defensive effort full court style by throwing a 1-2-2 at the home-standing Braves, the Beavers had quickly put the brakes on the high-flying Pequea Valley offense while simultaneously igniting their own as a trifecta was then dialed up by electrifying senior guard Hummy Valerio which got Lebanon Catholic within a deuce at 22-20 later on in the second frame.
Ultimately, the Pequea Valley lead would then be cut down to as low as one following a 3 ball popped in by Valerio which made it a 24-23 contest at the 4:40 checkpoint of the half, prompting the Braves to call a timeout. From there out on however, Pequea Valley was able to get some much-needed breathing room with Lebanon Catholic eagerly awaiting to claim their first lead of the contest.
Coming out of the timeout, the Braves proceeded to rattle off a 7-0 scoring flurry which was punctuated by a 2-2 trip to the charity stripe by senior guard Malachi Glick, giving Pequea Valley the touchdown advantage at 30-23 with 2:30 left to play in the opening half.
The late half Pequea Valley surge would later be put to a stop by Mark Gates of Lebanon Catholic as the 5’8” freshman guard ended the Brave rally with a 2-2 trip to the line in his own right, getting the Beavers within five at 30-25 with the half winding down. But the Beavers weren’t satisfied being just within shouting distance of Pequea Valley.
Following the successful free throws in by the Lebanon Catholic freshman, a senior would help carry them into the intermission as a strong hoop inside by Nate Hatzfield got the Beavers within three at 31-28 with just over one minute remaining on the first half clock.
When the clock finally did run dry on the game’s opening half, it would show Pequea Valley holding onto the slim two point cushion at 31-29 at the halftime break following a wonderful display of basketball between two teams desperate and hungry for a victory who were clearly putting it all on the line.
They often say in basketball that the first few minutes to start a half are wherein lies big determining factors one way or another that help decide the outcome of a game. Well if that is indeed the case, one only needs to look at Pequea Valley’s performance to start the second half on Monday against Lebanon Catholic for proof of that.
The Braves proceeded to come out of the dressing room and immediately blitz the Beavers to the tune of a 4-0 run to up their lead to a half dozen, allowing them to get some more separation between themselves and their guests in the infant stages of the second half.
As it turned out, that separation would prove to be valuable as Lebanon Catholic came knocking on the door once again following another Hummy Valerio triple, good for 3 of his team-high 24 points on the evening, to get the Beavs’ within three at 35-32 in the early going of the third. But from there however, Pequea Valley would deadbolt the door and nail it shut.
Following the key Valerio 3 ball which moved momentum over to the Beavers’ bench, Pequea Valley was able to rip the momentum right back as an 8-2 Brave march followed suit which was capped off by a nice drive along the baseline by Luke Purcell who would go on to finish with an impressive 17 point outing in his own right.
As mentioned previously, this is a Lebanon Catholic team that will not simply waive the white flag at the first sign of adversity. No, as most teams soon discover, these Beavers are here for the long haul. And they were yet again on Monday night.
Following the third quarter Pequea Valley charge, Lebanon Catholic continued to scratch and claw their way back into the thick of things as a sweet 3 ball shot nailed by junior guard Devin Root narrowed the PV lead down to half a dozen at 45-39 with four minutes still left to go in the third period.
However immediately following the Root triple, a technical foul was issued against Lebanon Catholic which helped turn the tide of the game once and for all. Aided by a 3-0 spark which was ignited by freshman Devon Colyer, Pequea Valley was finally able to garner that much-needed separation that would help them pull out section victory numero dos on the season.
In fact, the Pequea Valley lead would swell to the double digit plateau before a Kyle Kauffman triple in the waning stages of the third helped get Lebanon Catholic back within a puncher’s chance of breaking that double digit ceiling, as the Kaufmann trifecta made it a 53-42 ballgame as the third quarter was officially put to a close. On the evening Kyle Kauffman would once again prove to be a member of the dynamic 1-2 Beaver punch along with Hummy Valerio as the two senior stars combined for a total of 46 points with Kauffman chipping in 22 respectively.
Even despite the fact that Lebanon Catholic would be able to get back within single digits following a deuce early on in the fourth quarter, that heady freshman who plays well beyond his years would once again prove to be the Beavers kryptonite as Devon Colyer promptly helped Pequea Valley navigate the somewhat rocky fourth quarter waters with a corner 3 which sent PV back over the ten point hill, making it a 56-44 contest with roughly two minutes gone by in the final quarter. But if you think he was done there, you’d be mistaken.
Following a nice block defensively on shot rejected by Luke Purcell who continued to enjoy his magnificent game for Pequea Valley, a fast break transition runout ensued with Colyer having the honors at the other end by tallying an easy lay in at the cup for 2 of his game-high 27 point outburst. And hey, just for good measure, PV’s promising star for years to come later stepped out behind the arc and buried a triple to send the Braves over the 70 point mark as the Colyer dagger made it a 72-54 ballgame with three minutes left to go.
Yet on a night where Lebanon Catholic displayed so much heart and fight, it wouldn’t seem right if this was how it were to end. Luckily, it wasn’t.
With the game clock ticking down, Lebanon Catholic’s Andrew McCafferty checked into the ballgame and immediately responded by proving to be an unquestioned bright spot for the Beavers as the 6’4” junior forward got into the scoring column by draining two freebies at the line and not to mention getting some floor burn as well by diving after loose 50/50 balls.
But in the end however, it would prove to be Pequea Valley who had all the answers for whatever questions Lebanon Catholic would be able to throw at them as the Braves held off an improved Beaver bunch with the 80-61 victory over their compatriots from Lebanon Catholic.
NEXT UP: With their victory over Lebanon Catholic on Monday night, Pequea Valley will now quickly look to turn one win into two as the Braves prepare for the ultra-impressive crew from Northern Lebanon on Tuesday night. But win or lose on Monday night, Tuesday night, Friday night, or any left on the schedule this season, the remainder of this year will hinge on two main factors.
First and foremost, sending the senior class of Malachi Glick, Ryan Lockhart, Ryan Smith, Luke Purcell, and Nathan Kovalick deservedly out as winners as this season winds down. And from there, relying on said senior class to help build the foundation and set the example for future Braves hoopsters for years to come both on and off the court. A foundation which may one day help rediscover the road to Hershey’s Giant Center for a District 3 playoff appearance. The same road by the way which Pequea Valley was able locate and traverse just one short decade ago.
Secondly, helping build and establish a winning culture and attitude that will help be the DNA that will define Pequea Valley and enable the Braves rise up and fight amongst the best of the best in their section each and every year. The good news is, they have an awfully good piece to start with.
If you have yet to see Devon Colyer yet to play, I suggest you do so soon. After all, tickets and space at Pequea Valley’s cozy gym will likely be hard to come by in just a few years. Playing with the poise and leadership of a starting point guard who looks like they should be walking across a stage at a graduation in just a few months, PV’s star freshman will look to be one of the top returning players in the league each and every season for years to come. And when you’re looking to make noise, what better to have at your disposal than a lead singer who can help shape the direction of the band.
For Lebanon Catholic, the search for finding that elusive Section 3 win does not get any easier as the Beavers make plans to face off with Lebanon County foe ELCO Tuesday night on top of Assumption Hill. Although it remains unclear as to whether or not Lebanon Catholic will be able to crack into the winning column in section play this year, it should not in any way be any sort of smudge on the resumes of this year’s senior class. For years, this core group has had to endure long nights and even longer bus rides that have not always been fruitful in terms of wins and losses. Yet nonetheless they have continued to suit up each and every night and wear that Beaver uniform like the badge of honor it deserves to be recognized as.
And even though this year’s Beaver senior class may not leave with the type of wins that their fellow competitors around the L-L will be able to boast about when their careers are through, these Beavers have learned valuable real life skills such as determination, persistence, and handling adversity yet continuing to come work each and every day. Lessons that extend well beyond just a handful of 32 minute basketball games during the winter months that each will be all the better for experiencing.
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