When trying to handicap Section 4 of the Lancaster-Lebanon League before the start of the season, the ELCO Raiders figured to play a significant role in the outcome of events that would take place throughout the three months of the regular season. And up until this point, they certainly have not disappointed.
Coming into their midweek battle on the road at Wyomissing, the Raiders found themselves in an advantageous spot, sitting just right behind Lancaster Catholic in the quest for section supremacy with both head-to-head matchups against the Crusaders still yet on the horizon after taking care of fellow Lebanon County foe Northern Lebanon in front of a jam-packed, raucous atmosphere at home in Myerstown this past Friday night.
Speaking of Lancaster Catholic, the first of what figures to be two battle royales between the Raiders and Crusaders this year is set to take place this Friday night when ELCO travels southward into Lancaster City. But before they could worry about taking down the Crusaders on their home floor, a task that is most definitely easier said than done, the Raiders needed to push the thought of Lancaster Catholic into the back recesses of their mind for just a little while longer if they wished to head into Friday night’s tussle with a definite boost of added momentum should they be able to take down the Spartans of Wyomissing on Wednesday night.
Early on, Wednesday’s battle waged between the Raiders and Spartans was one that took on the back and forth narrative. After Wyomissing senior point guard Chris McFarlane was able to give the home-standing Spartans the early 6-5 advantage, ELCO’s Evan Huey was there to answer back with a 3-ball for the Raiders, his second of the first quarter, as the 5’7 junior guard pushed ELCO back in front 8-6. From there, Huey continued to have the hot-hand for ELCO by promptly dialing up another triple, now increasing the Raiders’ cushion out to five, 11-6.
While Huey was proving to be a marksman from behind the arc for much of the game’s opening eight minutes, Asher Kemble was proving to be equally dominant inside as ELCO’s supremely talented 6’5 junior center kissed one off the glass just prior the first quarter horn, sending ELCO into the second quarter in possession of the 15-8 lead.
But the second quarter would prove to be one that was much different.
Ignited by a quick 6-0 run out the chute that was capped off by back-to-back follows courtesy of Wyomissing’s Julius Jordan and Max Hurleman respectively, the Spartans had successfully trimmed the ELCO lead down to the slimmest of margins at 15-14 with 4:45 left to play in the first half.
Fortunately for the visitors from Myerstown, Evan Huey was able to bail his teammates out of danger once again by ripping off five straight Raider points in response, upping the ELCO lead to a half dozen at 20-14 to quell the impromptu Wyomissing bonanza.
Yet even when it seemed that ELCO would be out of the woods once and for all in the second stanza, Wyomissing clearly had other intentions.
With his team currently residing in another first half hole that was exacerbated by yet another Huey trifecta, Wyomissing turned the keys over to junior guard Max Hurleman who immediately helped shift the Spartans into the fast lane. In fact, Hurleman would proceed to score the Spartans’ final five points of the second quarter, a feat that was good enough to send Wyomissing into the intermission with the 21-20 advantage.
While the first half between ELCO and Wyomissing was one that was largely a trading of volleys across the fence from one side to the other, the second half on Wednesday evening would prove to be an exact antithesis.
While ELCO proceeded to go blow for blow with the Spartans at the outset of the third quarter, a Braden Bohannon bucket for the Raiders at the 6:17 mark of the third frame would give the lead back to ELCO, 24-23.
From that point on however, the game immediately made a hard left turn.
In a sense, Wyomissing proceeded to play a near flawless game on both ends of the floor for the rest of the night. While keeping a lid on the highly-potent ELCO offensive attack, the Spartans began to score at will down on the offensive end, eventually increasing their lead up to seven at 31-24 at the three-minute mark of the third following a Max Hurleman fast break lay-in for the home troops. And with momentum clearly already residing on their bench, Wyomissing only proceeded to pour salt into ELCO’s open wound by nailing back-to-back-to-back 3-balls to close the third with Spartans’ big man Jayvien Benn tossing in one before Hurleman would follow suit with a pair of his own, including one right before the third quarter buzzer which served as the perfect punctuation mark for Wyomissing’s impressive third quarter as the Spartans held serve at 42-24 at the end of three.
But even with the now into the fourth quarter, Max Hurleman would continue to have himself a memorable night as an early take from Wyo’s heady junior guard en route to the hoop increased the Wyomissing lead up to twenty at 44-24 just 20 seconds into the final period. On the night, Hurleman would prove himself to be the brightest of stars by netting a game-high 21-point effort to help aid the Spartans’ cause.
Remember that early third quarter bucket chipped in by Braden Bohannon for ELCO? Well, perhaps it’s best to revisit that moment as a Bohannon freebie at the line with 6:17 to go in the fourth finally allowed the Raiders to escape from their lengthy scoring drought, one that was quickly approaching an entire quarter’s worth in length.
And while Bohannon would go on to add in another triple in game’s closing minutes, it was too little too late as far as the ELCO contingent was concerned as four straight points authored by Max Hurleman helped cap off a resounding second half statement administered by the Spartans as Wyomissing would go on to prevail once the dust finally settled, 54-38.
NEXT UP: As mentioned, the task in preparing for Lancaster Catholic on Friday night now likely takes on a much different feel mentally for ELCO considering the way in which the events of the second half unfolded on Wednesday night. However, perhaps the best medicine in washing out a performance such as the one against Wyomissing is get right back on the horse and continue to ride again. And should they be able to put everything all together, something they have been able to demonstrate more often times than not this season, Friday’s affair at Lancaster Catholic between the Raiders and Crusaders promises to be one of the best games on the Lancaster-Lebanon League docket.