Young Barons Flash Fearlessness And Fortitude As Manheim Central Outduels Northern Lebanon In Overtime Classic

Written by: on Friday, January 24th, 2020

 

No matter what the sport and no matter what the level of competition, there are always a few certain places that likely create a general feeling of queasiness when a team looks at their schedule at the beginning of the season before soon discovering that they must travel to one of the toughest places in all the conference at some point during the year. As far the Lancaster-Lebanon League is concerned, there are most definitely a few gyms that can comfortably be classified as “snakepits.” Ironically, or perhaps not so ironically given their such small and confined spaces, most of these same places just so happen to be in the lower sections of the L-L, such as Section Four and Section Five respectively. And it is here where we stumble upon Northern Lebanon.

If it’s not the smallest gym in the entire L-L League, there are certainly no others that can be labeled as being any cozier, nor more intimate. Perhaps it should come as no surprise whatsoever then to witness the Vikings routinely use their unquestioned homecourt advantage to fight tooth-and-nail against nearly everyone that happens to have the unenviable task of sauntering up to Fredericksburg for a weeknight assignment. Yet even if they don’t end up prevailing by the time the final gun blasts against every guest that they welcome into town, the Vikings routinely end up scaring the living daylights out of most everyone else.

That said, even for all the obstacles that come coupled with a trip to Northern Lebanon’s loud house, Manheim Central could not afford to be intimidated by the closed confines that the infamous “mustard walls” present.

You see, the Barons came into their Thursday night tilt against the homestanding Vikings as losers of two straight against the likes of Cocalico and Lampeter-Strasburg respectively, giving the Barons a razor-thin margin for error as they hope to chase down one of the two L-L playoff bids awarded to Section Three members.

The thing was, their hosts were sure to be in no hospitable mood whatsoever given Northern Lebanon’s final jockeying for a late-season playoff push considering the fact that the Vikes came into the evening as winners of three of their last four contests, with their only defeat coming in a 12-point loss the last time out against Section Four leader, Lancaster Catholic.

However, by the end of the night, not only would the Barons be able to pick up a monumental victory in terms of this season most specifically, but it was a victory that will likely prove to be far, far greater given the long-term outlook of Manheim Central’s rapidly-improving program.

Despite the fact that getting a win on Northern Lebanon’s home floor is one of the toughest chores that an L-L team can possibly have, Manheim Central appeared no worse for the wear considering the Barons were able to double-up their hosts following an early triple knocked in 5’10 freshman guard, Trey Grube, giving Central the 10-5 lead just three minutes into the books. From there, the Barons’ waves just continued lapping upon the Vikings’ shore considering a put-back from point-blank range by Manheim Central’s lone senior, JD Grube, forced the Vikings into calling an early timeout while staring at a 12-5 deficit with 4:27 left to go in the opening period. And once the dust had finally settled on the opening eight minutes, the scoreboard hanging high on the yellow-painted walls showed the Barons owning their largest cushion of the early evening at 16-7 following a nice bucket inside courtesy of 6’6 junior forward, Griffin DiFrancesco.

Once the second period got underway, it had finally appeared as if Northern Lebanon had gotten themselves back on level-ground. In fact, following a pair of buckets tallied in back-to-back fashion from Simon Grimes and Ethan Borcky respectively, the Vikings had suddenly sliced the Barons’ lead down to just five at 16-11, with Manheim Central burning a timeout to regroup with 5:12 left to play before the intermission.

However, over the course of the next few minutes following the timeout, the Barons were able to build upon their lead up ever so slightly as fantastic offensive rebound and put-back by DiFrancesco propelled the Barons back out to a six-point lead at 22-16, with the second quarter now well past its midway point.

And while the Vikings and Barons would take turns trading triples with one another in the next few minutes as best evidenced by Borcky going first, only to see Manheim Central’s Logan Shull then immediately follow suit, the Barons would be able to protect their lead over the final few minutes and change as Manheim Central trotted off into the locker room while owning the 25-19 lead.

When scouting Northern Lebanon this season, particularly when the Vikings happen to be playing at home, it quickly becomes rather obvious that the Vikes love to hoist the rock from beyond the arc. So, with that in mind, it seemed rather apropos to witness Northern Lebanon racing out of the chute at the onset of the third quarter, effectively slicing the Manheim Central lead down to just a pair at 29-27 following a pair of triples sunk by 5’11 senior guard, Alex Folmer, forcing the Barons to call a timeout in order to stem the Vikings’ rising tide at the 5:30 mark of the third.

Throughout the entirety of the night, just when it had felt as if Northern Lebanon had finally been able to solve the Manheim Central puzzle, the Barons would routinely punch right back with the timeliest of answers just when they were needed the most. Case in point, a back-breaking 3-ball splashed in by 5’11 junior guard, Cam Eberly, ushering the Barons’ lead back up to five at 32-27 on the heels of Folmer’s latest trey.

Yet even despite the key Eberly trifecta, the Vikings proceeded to rattle off a 5-0 run to then follow the Barons’ return volley, capping things off with yet another Alex Folmer 3-point bomb, good for three of this team-high 19-point effort on the evening, making things all square at 32-32 with 3:40 now left in the third.

But here again, here came the Barons roaring right back as a runout layup by Trey Grube, good for two of his game-high 23-point outing, catapulted Manheim Central right back into the 36-32 lead, only to then see that their lead balloon up to a half dozen following a smooth, spot-up jumper cashed in by 5’9 sophomore guard, Judd Novak, giving the Barons the 38-32 cushion with 1:50 left in the quarter.

However, the Barons weren’t done there.

No, not when Manheim Central proceeded to put an exclamation mark on their impromptu 9-0 flurry with a triple cashed in by 5’7 junior guard, Logan Shull, sending the Barons out to the 41-32 lead with 55.7 seconds still left to tick off the third quarter clock.

And while a crucial, old-school, traditional three-point play by Northern Lebanon’s Owen Treadway would stop the Vikings’ bleeding while also cutting the Barons’ lead back down to six at 41-35, Manheim Central was ultimately able to fend off any further Viking damage by heading into the final period with ownership of the 44-35 advantage.

Remember earlier how Northern Lebanon seems to always shoot the lights out when playing at home? Well, as if to be right on cue, a pair of timely triples knocked in by the Vikings’ diminutive, yet sensational backcourt duo of Owen Treadway and Peyton Wolfe respectively, then sliced the Barons’ lead down to five at 48-43 with 6:20 left to go.

But here again, the Barons simply remained unphased by the shots throw in their direction by Northern Lebanon.

In fact, just when it had seemed as if Manheim Central may have started to show some slivers and cracks in their sturdy foundation, yet another Trey Grube triple gave the Barons some much-needed breathing room at 51-43 just 30 seconds later. And even when an Owen Treadway theft and layup got the Vikings back within shouting distance shortly thereafter, another back-breaking 3-ball, this one tallied by Matt Siegrist, put the visitors back up by a touchdown at 54-47.

That said, just as Manheim Central was about to find out over the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, putting Northern Lebanon away once and for all is certainly a task that is far easier said than actually done.

Over the span of the next few minutes of play, the Vikings proceeded to right their ship and race back within a deuce at 54-52 following a traditional three-point play courtesy of 6’0 junior forward, Ian Herman.

But even with Northern Lebanon’s attempt at stealing the lead, the Barons quickly and calmly retaliated right back by going on their own 4-0 march to answer, a run that was punctuated by a Cam Eberly take to the rack, putting Manheim Central back on top, 58-52.

And back and forth they continued on.

On the Vikings’ next trip down the floor, Northern Lebanon’s sharp-shooter, Peyton Wolfe, proceeded to bomb in a Titantic-sized triple to slice the Barons’ lead in half to 58-55 with 1:41 left in regulation.

Keyword there being regulation.

Even though Manheim Central would once again build their lead back up to five at 60-55 following a pair of cold-blooded freebies nailed at the charity stripe courtesy of Logan Shull, an equally stone-cold triple scored on the other end by Northern Lebanon’s Ethan Borcky got the homestanding Vikes back within a pair at 60-58 with just 45 ticks left to be played.

So, with Manheim Central seeing the well run dry from the foul line on their next trip down the floor, an absolutely fearless take to the rack by Northern Lebanon’s Owen Treadway knotted things back up at 60-60 with 15 seconds left. And with Manheim Central’s last-second heave bouncing off the back rim at the final horn, this Section Three/Section Four crossover tilt was just as quickly heading into a deserving period of extra time.

In the opening few minutes of the extra frame, both the Barons and Vikings took their turns at feeling one another out, especially when considering that the first four points of overtime came via the foul line thanks to a pair of successful 2-2 trips to the charity stripe courtesy of Manheim Central’s Wyatt Becker and Northern Lebanon’s Alex Folmer respectively, keeping things all square at 62-62.

Yet just as they had done all game long, another enormous Manheim Central 3-ball, this one once again splashed in by the Barons’ man of the hour, freshman Trey Grube, gave the Barons the lead back once more at 65-62 with 1:40 left. From there, Central continued to keep the pedal down as a gutsy take to the tin by Cam Eberly then pushed the Barons’ lead out to five at 67-62 on Manheim Central’s next trip down the floor on offense. And after dodging one last barrage of bullets thrown in their direction by Northern Lebanon with time starting to wind down, a tough-as-nails 2-2 trip to the foul line by Trey Grube fittingly help put the bow on Manheim Central’s coming of age-like overtime victory on the road at Northern Lebanon on Thursday night, 71-64.

Understandably, such a highly-dramatic win was one that was deserving of great praise and appreciation. Fortunately, Thursday night’s triumph was an achievement clearly not lost on the Barons’ boss.

“The Warwick game, we played out of our minds and we won that game. We survived and won that game,” Manheim Central head coach Charlie Fisher said while trying to assess where exactly his team’s most recent triumph over Northern Lebanon stacks up over the entirety of their season. “In between (the Warwick game), there were seven games. We won the Garden Spot game. The other six we lost on either a buzzer-beater, one-point, a few points, whatever it may be. This game kind of sandwiches that. To come and beat a team on the road that was shooting the lights out in the fourth quarter, we just made plays. That is a huge step in our growing process,” said Fisher.

“I just thought, ‘Geez, 60-60 (heading into overtime).’ You look at a bunch of young guys’ faces and they’re like, ‘Why couldn’t we have just won that game?’ And after two tough losses in a row, in a road game, on a short week because we didn’t have school Monday and Tuesday, there were a lot of things pressing against us,” Fisher added. “This just ranks up there as what we hope to be the turning point of a bunch of young guys in getting ready for four more games and then a whole slate next year.”

“I’ve grown up a lot this year,” the Barons’ head man added of his coaching given the fact that the Barons only feature one lone senior throughout their entire program. “This team this year has taught me that coaching is way more than wins, losses, and playoffs. I know it’s easier to say that with a team that is sitting at 8-10 like we are, but it’s one of those things where I love every single one of the guys on my team. They absolutely enjoy playing together and they’ve loved everything there is to love about this season,” he added. “Every win, every close game, every butt-kicking, every game period is just that much better for us going forward.”

“It comes down to one thing. I love coaching this team. We have so much fun,” Fisher added further. “This is one of those, ‘Celebrate every win,’ and now we’ll have a couple of days in between to get ready for Garden Spot and they’re going to be coming for us, but we enjoy everything.”

“That’s what I’ve learned,” the third-year Manheim Central head man mentioned in closing. “Enjoy everything. It’s not always about the playoffs even though we want ‘em. It’s not always about cutting down the nets even though we want ‘em. When you have the core that we have, 19 guys back next year, it’s only setting the stage for what’s to come.”

 

NEXT UP: As Coach Fisher mentioned in the postgame on Thursday night following his team’s victory in Fredericksburg, while the Barons’ odds appear long heading into the final stretch of their season in terms of perhaps reaching the postseason given Cocalico’s win over Garden Spot on Thursday night, this young Manheim Central bunch will prepare for what it hopes will be a season-sweep over the Garden Spot Spartans when they travel to New Holland on Tuesday night. From there, the Barons will continue to live life on the yellow school bus as they then travel to Solanco and Northern York before returning home for JD Grube’s senior night against Cocalico, a game in which the Barons assuredly want to get back considering that the season’s first matchup between the two ended in a buzzer-beating Carter Nuneville layup just moments before the final horn, giving Cocalico the thrilling 41-39 win over their archrivals.

On the other bench, there are most definitely brighter days ahead for Northern Lebanon as well. For starters, the Vikings will bring back what could easily be argued as the most prolific backcourt in all the Lancaster-Lebanon League next season with the return of Owen Treadway and Peyton Wolfe manning Northern Lebanon’s controls. And while the Vikings will have to say goodbye to a half dozen seniors in just a few weeks’ time, including the potent one-two punch of Alex Folmer and Ethan Borcky most specifically, this figures to a Northern Lebanon group deemed worthy of ascending into the upper echelon of L-L Section Four once again next season. Yes, with those famous mustard walls and all.

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