New-Look Beavers Suffer First Loss As Lebanon Catholic Falls To Lititz Christian

Written by: on Thursday, December 13th, 2018

 

Every year, the promise and optimism that comes along with the start of a new season is a very real and a very tangible feeling for fans, players, and coaches alike. However, if you wish to seek out the location above all others that may contain the most excitement? Perhaps you’d be best-served to head up to Assumption Hill just outside of Lebanon city to see what’s going at Lebanon Catholic.

By now, you’re probably aware of the history at play here, both previous and recent. Not all that long ago, the Beavers of Lebanon Catholic were a program that was consistently battling it out for Section 4 titles, making appearances in the District 3 playoffs, and even snatching up some District 3 title hardware along the way, all while making it feel like something you could set your watch to as it related to the school on Chestnut Street.

Unfortunately however, it’s been a much different tale for the Beavers of late.

While it may have been a few years since Lebanon Catholic has been able to best a fellow Lancaster-Lebanon League opponent, don’t make the assumption that this group of Beavers are in any way feeling bogged-down by recent history. In fact, just look to Saturday’s 70-26 demolition of Veritas Academy for further proof as to the true enthusiasm contained in the school, signaling that this could at long last could finally be the year in which the Beavers are finally able to snap that long L-L losing skid.

And while Wednesday night’s midweek tussle with Lititz Christian would continue to keep the Beavers outside of league competition, it did provide them with another litmus test opportunity as to just how much improvement that they have been able to make.

Whether it be the cold weather on the outside of just pure nerves playing in the nightcap of a boys/girls jam-packed double-header up on Assumption Hill, both the Beavers and Eagles were beset by frigid starts to the evening. In fact for most of the first quarter, the game was played within a two-point window with neither team being able to generate much in terms of separation.

Speaking of separation, the game’s earliest semblance of some would come after a nice steal and finish by Lebanon Catholic’s Devin Root, as the 5’10 senior point guard put the Beavers up 6-2 with 3:30 left in the opening quarter. Yet even while playing with an early morsel of momentum, the duration of the first period remained to Lititz Christian. More specifically rather, David Elsner.

With his team already in an early hole, the Eagles’ sophomore guard quickly took matters into his own hands by pumping in the next five points of the quarter to erase the visitor’s deficit, putting Lititz Christian up 7-6 at the conclusion of the game’s first eight minutes.

And while both teams were equally besmirched by cold-shooting to begin the game, Lititz Christian quickly proved that the second stanza would be drastically different.

With the game tied up following a nice offensive board and put-back by Lebanon Catholic 6’5 senior center Sam Heagy which made things all square at 9-9 just 1:15 in, the Eagles took flight.

Sparked by three 3-balls cashed in throughout the quarter, two of which came by way of David Elsner, the Lititz Christian lead quickly swelled to 21-13 with just two minutes remaining in the first half. And once the dust finally settled on the opening half, the visiting Eagles were in command by virtue of their 24-15 halftime lead.

Much like in the way that first quarter got underway, both teams found the task of scoring to be nothing short of difficult for much of the third quarter. In fact, the first points of the second half would not come until the 4:30 mark, thanks to a nifty baby-hook by Lititz Christian big-man Henry Hissrich, making it a 26-15 advantage in favor of the visitors from Lancaster County.

From that point on however, the tone and tenor for the remainder of the game made an immediate hard-turn.

After a free throw was swished home by Lebanon Catholic senior point guard Alberto Moreno which got the Beavers back within ten at 26-16 with 2:56 left in the third frame, a steal and emphatic subsequent two-handed dunk down on the other end by the Beavers’ Sam Heagy made the gym on Assumption Hill roar with a sound similar to that of a jet engine, as the white-clad Beavers were starting to mount their charge.

Sure enough, the Lititz Christian would get trimmed down to a half dozen shortly thereafter thanks to a 2-2 trip to the charity stripe by Lebanon Catholic 5’8 sophomore guard Mark Gates, making it a 26-20 Eagles advantage with time running out on the third quarter clock and the Beavers playing with what felt like all the momentum in the world.

But just then, perhaps from an unlikely source, Lititz Christian found the cure for what ailed them.

Needing to quell the dangerous level of Lebanon Catholic momentum for which they now encountered right on their doorstep, Lititz Christian to turned freshman Erik Borg, with the Eagles’ ninth-grader promptly responding with a poise and moxie well-beyond his years as Borg was able to finish off a tide-turning three-point play with 20 seconds left in the quarter, sending the Eagles into the final period in possession of the 29-20 advantage.

The thing is though, this Lebanon Catholic team just seems to be different. And as Lititz Christian was about to find out, this group of Beavers simply will not quit.

In the initial stages of the final quarter, with a huge early-season win sitting there for the taking, Devin Root proceeded to knock in a much-needed trifecta which brought the crowd back into the game, as Root’s triple sliced the Lititz Christian lead back down to a six at 29-23 with 6:45 to play. From there, the situation only grew more precarious for the Eagles.

After a theft and lay-in by Alberto Moreno, Lebanon Catholic suddenly found themselves even closer to snatching that lead, now down 31-27. And just as he had been able to do a few minutes prior, Devin Root proceeded to knock down an enormous triple, bringing the Beavers to within three at 33-30 with Lititz Christian forced to call timeout and regroup in the face of a home crowd that was going absolutely bonkers as 4:07 remained to be played.

And while no one knew could have possibly predicted it at the time, that would turn out to be the last time the Beavers would score for quite a while.

Bolstered by a pair of free throws which put the Eagles back up by six at 36-30 with 2:30 to play, Lititz Christian would continue to add to their lead with a gigantic bucket the Eagles’ next trip down the floor courtesy of Logan Coolbeth, making it a 38-30 cushion in favor of Lititz Christian with time running out on the Beavers and their aspirations of starting the season out 2-0.

Unfortunately for the Beaver-backers however, the hole would only continue to grow deeper over the next few minutes as the Lititz Christian lead ballooned to a dozen at 42-30 after a pair of free throws cashed in David Elsner who would pace the Eagles’ scoring effort by chipping in a game-high 17 points.

Finally, at long last, the Lebanon Catholic scoring drought was put an end courtesy of another Devin Root triple, his third of the ballgame, making it a 42-33 affair with just 28 seconds left to go. On the night, Root would go on to finish with high scoring honors for the Beavers by posting a team-best 13 point effort.

But in the end however, it would prove to be too little too late as Lititz Christian was able to snag a big intraconference win, besting Lebanon Catholic 45-34 on Wednesday night in Lebanon city.

NEXT UP: For Lebanon Catholic, the Beavers must now turn their attention on a productive and meaningful day of practice on Thursday as they make plans to take on Pequea Valley Friday night. And sure, while a Lebanon Catholic and Pequea Valley matchup may not necessarily “move the needle” for most people, it doesn’t make Friday’s game became the Braves and Beavers any less important.

As mentioned, Lebanon Catholic enters this year with a lengthy and cumbersome league losing streak to their name. But on first glance however, the 2018-19 edition of the Beavers appears to be remarkably different. Aided by a nice influx of talent along the front-line that mixes nicely with some potent outside shooting, it appears to be more a case of when, not if, these Beavers can finally get over this pesky L-L League losing hurdle. And once they do, Assumption Hill will again become a “can’t miss” spot to take in a game within the hoops-crazed city of Lebanon. After all, if Wednesday night is to serve as any indication, those days appear to be just ahead on the horizon.

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