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Athlete of the Week

IMG_3696WEEK ENDING May 13

He prefers to go from the front. But obviously he can come from behind as well.

Maybe Derin Klick is just good at running the 800 meters, period.

On Saturday at Hempfield High School, during the annual contesting of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Track and Field Championships, Klick again won his signature event, in spirited fashion. Klick employed a strong kick to win the 800 meters in a time of 1:54.5.

But it wasn’t easy. Is it ever?

Klick watched as two of his competitors went out strong and assumed a noticeable margin. Sitting in third place, the Lebanon High senior made his move with about 150 meters remaining in the race, as he sprinted by them down the home stretch.

It was Klick’s third straight championship in the 800 meters at the league meet. But the other two came from the lead position.

sportsbuzzTwo weeks earlier, at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships on his home track, Klick had won the 800 meters in 1:57.4 and anchored the Cedars triumphant 1600-meter relay squad.

Klick is also the reigning Lebanon County cross country champion.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1778WEEK ENDING May 6

When you want to change the culture of a softball program – the direction in which it is heading – the best place to start is ‘inside the circle’. And if you want to build a pitching staff, a great place to start is Melanie Showers.

The emergence of Showers as a pitcher has helped redefine and revamp Northern Lebanon as a softball program.

This week, Showers continued to spearhead the Vikings’ resurgence.

On Wednesday evening at Manetas Park in Denver, Showers was overpowering while leading Northern Lebanon to a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three 7-2 road win over Cocalico. Working ahead in the count, moving her pitches in and out and up and down, and changing speeds, the junior right-hander hurled a complete game, scattered five hits, whiffed 12 and issued just a single walk.

sportsbuzzThat, combined with a 2-1 win over Elco earlier in the week, left the Vikings 11-6 on the season. With three regular-season games remaining, Northern Lebanon is in great shape to qualify for the District Three Class AAAA tournament.

Showers has certainly done her part, with three wins and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6-1.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2790WEEK ENDING April 29

Stanley Miller runs in a fast crowd.

So, exactly how fast is Miller? He’s the fastest man in Lebanon County.

On Saturday at Lebanon High School, Miller put forth a remarkable performance at the annual Lebanon County Track and Field Championships. It was the best performance by any male at the county meet not named Jesse Cruise.

Using his speed, the Annville-Cleona sprinter captured three events. Miller struck gold in the meet’s most glamorous event – the 100-meter dash – with a time of 11.40.

Miller also finished first in the 200-meter dash, where he was clocked in 23.03. And Miller generated enough foot speed to pop a 21-3.5 in the long jump, which was also good enough for a gold medal.

Miller’s speed will certainly be put to the test as the track and field postseason progresses, first at the Lancaster-Lebanon League meet at Hempfield High School and then at the District Three Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University.

sportsbuzzMiller’s peak could qualify him for states.

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING April 22

IMG_2193There are some very good baseball players in Lebanon County. Mitch Long may or may not be the best of the lot.

Perhaps a better way to approach the argument might be to ask: ‘Who’s better?’

This week, the Annville-Cleona center fielder/pitcher continued his torrid senior campaign, helping the Little Dutchmen go 3-0 against three Lebanon County squads. At week’s end, Long had four home runs, 20 RBIs and a batting average around .600, through 11 games.

On Friday afternoon against rival Elco, Long blasted a solo dinger to help the Little Dutchmen to a key 2-1 victory. Earlier in the week, Long’s Little Dutchmen had shaded Northern Lebanon and Lebanon Catholic.

At week’s end, Annville-Cleona is sporting an 8-3 overall record and a 6-3 mark in Section Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

sportsbuzzLong has also been an ace on the mound for the Little Dutchmen this spring, piling up strikeouts and wins. Soft-spoken by nature, Long has become more vocal this season and has taken on a bigger leadership role for Annville-Cleona.

This past fall, Long contributed to the Annville-Cleona football team’s success on the gridiron.

 

 

IMG_1521WEEK ENDING April 8

It’s very difficult to quantify Kyle Knight’s exact importance to the Elco baseball team. Perhaps the only way is the best way – by the Raiders’ win-loss record.

As a right fielder for Elco, Knight is on the down side of an absolutely marvelous senior season. One that has been made even more rewarding by what Knight endured as a junior.

On the baseball diamond, Knight is a catalyst, a calming influence, a player the rest of the Raiders look to for guidance. Knight is a patient, selective lead-off hitter and a very good defensive outfielder.

Thanks in part to all those things he brings to the table, Elco enjoyed a 2-1 week, one which left it 7-2 on the spring. That start represents one of the best in Raider baseball history.

sportsbuzzAfter sustaining a serious knee injury early in the 20015 football season, Knight, a three-sport student-athlete, missed most of his junior year, athletically. But he has bounced back nicely, and to this point has enjoyed splendid fall football and winter basketball campaigns for the Raiders.

Knight has committed to continue his athletic and academic careers, as a football player at Division Two Lock Haven.

 

 

IMG_1112

WEEK ENDING April 8

Never underestimate the power of sibling rivalries.

But what may have been Jack Muriaka’s true motivation was simply keeping it in the family.

On Saturday afternoon at Cedar Crest High School, Muriaka captured the Flight One singles crown at the 23rd annual Lebanon County Scholastic Tennis Championships. It marked the fourth time out of the last five years that a Falcon named Muriaka earned the title of ‘Lebanon County’s top high school tennis player’.

In the championship match, Muriaka downed Ben Clary of Palmyra, 6-2, 6-2. Muriaka, who’s undefeated in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, had advanced to the final at Flight One singles with a 6-0, 6-2 besting of Elco’s Mason Bennetch.

Muriaka spotted Clary an early 2-1 edge in their match, then asserted himself by winning seven straight games. Muriaka had his service broken only once against Clary.

sportsbuzzMuriaka’s title helped Cedar Crest to a repeat championship in the team competition.

Two years ago, Muriaka’s older brother Colin completed a run of three straight Lebanon County Flight One. For Jack, a sophomore, it was his first Flight One crown.

 

 

IMG_6171WEEK ENDING April 1

She is a natural. She’s also the best softball player no one’s ever heard of.

If the Lebanon softball program had about five more of her, the Cedars would be well on their way to turning things around.

Introducing Auri Lassalle. Lassalle is a talented and athletic sophomore shortstop who is about to burst on to the local scholastic softball scene and take Lebanon County by storm.

On Wednesday afternoon at Lebanon High School, Lassalle’s skills were fully on display, during a 9-8 non-league setback to Elco. Lassalle did everything in her power to secure a victory for the home team.

Her bat was a big part of the Cedars jumping out to an early 6-0 lead.

sportsbuzzIn the bottom of the second inning, Lassalle’s line-drive triple helped push Lebanon’s lead to 4-0. Then two frames later, the dynamic shortstop blasted a two-run ‘big fly’.

Lassalle was also a force for the Cedars in the field and on the bases.

On the softball diamond, Lassalle can do it all. She has great range, a big-time arm, speed, hand-eye coordination, instincts and a good head for the game.

 

 

 

IMG_5725WEEK ENDING March 25

It’a extremely difficult to win a state championship. It’s even harder to win one with a first-year point guard.

That the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team accomplished the feat is a tribute to head coach Patti Hower’s vision and coaching. And Neesha Pierre’s team spirit, hard work and willingness to learn.

On Friday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, the Beavers did indeed win their third state championship, with a 55-43 triumph over Juniata Valley. Pierre was a big reason why Lebanon Catholic was able to obtain scholastic sports’ ultimate goal.

As you she had done all regular and post-season long, Pierre was in the middle of everything that went right for the Beavers – directing traffic, competing at both ends of the floor and hauling down 12 rebounds.

During preseason practice, Pierre, a former two-guard, was moved to the point when Mariah Sholly did not come out for the team. A bit uncomfortable there at first, Pierre grew into her new role.

sportsbuzzIt seemed as Pierre became more accustomed to her, job Lebanon Catholic got better and better as the year progressed.

Then of course there was the matter of leadership. Her teammates came to rely on her, look to her, even though she wasn’t necessarily the best player on the squad.

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING March 18

IMG_4044With great gifts come great responsibility. Megan Brandt possesses a lot of God-given basketball ability.

This week, Brandt  continued to embrace the responsibility that comes with talent, as she and the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team advanced in the PIAA Class AAAA postseason.

On Thursday night at Shamokin High School, Brandt led the Vikings to a 51-25 triumph over Mifflinburg, in the second round of the state playoffs. The senior forward pumped in 15 points on six field goals and three-for-four foul shooting, and also played a key role in Northern Lebanon’s stifling defensive effort.

Brandt, who a week earlier had helped the Vikings to their first District Three championship in program history, is averaging a team-leading 13.5 points per game this season. Brandt is also Northern Lebanon’s top rebounder and an excellent help defender inside.

sportsbuzzBrandt recently moved into third place on the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball  program’s list of all-time scorers.

Also an excellent soccer player, Brandt has committed to continuing her athletic and academic careers at Division Two Bloomsburg University.

 

 

 

IMG_4249WEEK ENDING March 11

It was a horrible way to end a career. And what made it even worse was how successful that career had been.

On Friday afternoon at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center, Northern Lebanon senior Luke Funck’s career officially ended when he forfeited his second-round consolation bout in the 182-pound weight class. Funck was forced to forfeit the match when he suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle a day earlier, 1:42 into his state opener against Myersdale senior Christian Hutzell.

Funck appeared to have the initial points of the bout with Hutzell 18 seconds in, but grimaced in pain as he attempted to take him to the mat. Funck battled through the pain before succumbing to it 1:24 later.

Funck entered the PIAA competition as the top-ranked Class AA wrestler at his weight and with a legitimate shot of winning only Lebanon County’s second state gold medal in the sport. Funck was making the third state wrestling appearance of his career, one that featured a fourth-place showing last season.

sportsbuzzFunck, who plans to wrestle in college, finished his season with a 47-5 record, and his career with over 160 wins and over 100 pins. During his senior campaign, Funck won weight-class championships at the Southeast Regional tournament, the District Three Championships and the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3860WEEK ENDING March 4

Some leaders are born. Others have responsibility thrust upon them.

Zoe Zerman is a natural leader. But she has always been there when the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team has called upon her.

On Friday evening at Hershey’s Giant Center, Zerman led the Vikings to their greatest accomplishment in program history – a District Three Class AAAA championship. Zerman’s Vikings defeated Bishop McDevitt 46-44 in a tense final game.

Despite being saddled with foul trouble, Zerman paced the Northern Lebanon attack with a three-pointer, four deuces, five-for-five foul shooting and 16 total points. Earlier in the week, during Tuesday’s 50-43 semifinal triumph over Lancaster Catholic at Warwick High School, the senior guard struck for 20 points.

sportsbuzzThroughout this historic Northern Lebanon campaign, Zerman’s duties have included – but have not teen limited to – ball handling, distribution, rebounding and, perhaps most importantly, guarding the other team’s best player. Zerman has averaged 13 points per outing for the Vikings this season and is also one of their top free-throw shooters and rebounders.

Zerman has committed to further her academic and athletic careers at Division Two Kutztown University.

 

 

 

IMG_2737WEEK ENDING Feb. 25

For senior student-athletes, there is no better place to end scholastic careers than states. Zach Kelly is a senior and he’d really like to go out with a bang.

On Saturday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, during the annual District Three wrestling championships, Northern Lebanon’s Kelly copped the title of the Class AA 138-pound weight class. Kelly capped a 3-0 run through the bracket with a thrilling 3-1, 3OT triumph over Middletown junior Devin Martin in the final.

After Kelly and Martin had traded escapes in regulation, the combatants battled through two score-less overtime periods and the part of a third. Kelly won it with a two-point near-fall near the end of the third extra session.

sportsbuzzKelly had reached the title tilt with a 13-3 semifinal major decision over Jack Bennett of Schuylkill Valley. The Viking 12th-grader opened his tournament by decking Evan Hoffman of Upper Dauphin in the quarterfinals.

Not only did the results lift Kelly’s personal record to 39-8, it put him in a good spot for qualifying for the PIAA Class AA postseason, back at Giant Center in two weeks. But to reach his ultimate goal, Kelly must first navigate the state qualifier that is the regional tournament.

 

 

IMG_1209WEEK ENDING Feb. 18

Camryn Shaak is like a rock, a foundation. Not only can you lean on him, he’s always there for you, especially when you need him most.

This week, Shaak was at his steady, consistent best, as his Lebanon boys’ basketball squad took home the silver medal from the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. Shaak netted a total of 36 points in the Cedars’ three league playoff games, all the while contributing his hustle, intensity and overall floor game to LHS’ cause.

On Friday night at Manheim Township High School, Shaak struck for nine points in Lebanon’s 49-47 setback at the hands of Lancaster Catholic, in the league title tilt. Two days earlier, during a 59-48 semifinal triumph over Lancaster Mennonite at Cedar Crest, the senior guard popped for seven points.

On Monday evening at home, Shaak’s four three-pointers and 20 points paced Lebanon’s come-from-behind victory over Ephrata. Through 25 games this winter, Shaak and the Cedars have compiled a 20-5 overall mark.

sportsbuzzShaak has been Lebanon’s leading scorer this season with a 12 points per game average, the Cedars’ top three-point shooter and a deadly free-throw marksman.

In the spring, Shaak is also an accomplished baseball player for Lebanon.

 

 

 

IMG_7074WEEK ENDING Feb. 11

For the most part, the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team has enjoyed a successful 2016-17. But at times, the Falcons have been a bit inconsistent, a little up-and-down.

Yet through it all, Blake Thomson has been there for Cedar Crest, steady and solid as a rock.

This week, the Falcons put the finishing touches our their year. On Tuesday night, Cedar Crest closed out its regular season with a 53-48 setback at rival Lebanon.

The Falcons went 15-7 during the year, 8-6 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, and just missed out on the league playoffs. Cedar Crest earned the eighth seed for the an upcoming District Three Class AAAAAA postseason which will send its top six finishers on to states, and the Falcons have earned the right to host an opening round game in the tournament.

During the year, the consistent Thomson has been in the middle of Cedar Crest’s good, and has helped the Falcons through the bad times.

sportsbuzzThe 6-0 senior combo guard leads the Falcons in scoring with an average of nearly 14 points per outing, is among Cedar Crest’s leaders in three-pointers and is making 76 percent of his free throws. Thomson also plays good defense for Crest, handles the ball and leads by example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9712WEEK ENDING Feb 4

They don’t name most valuable players in high school basketball. But if they did, Lebanon’s Luis Aquino-Rios would be the boys’ MVP of Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League – and quite possibly of the entire league.

The Cedars recently wrapped up a championship in their first year back in Section One, with a decisive triumph over Penn Manor. And while Lebanon did it as a team and with a lot of interchangeable parts, Aquino-Rios was the one player who brought all the pieces together for the Cedars.

The junior guard has averaged over 11 points per game this season, has made three-quarters of his free throws and has been Lebanon’s most accurate three-point shooter, all the while handling the ball, running the offense and defending one of the opponents’ most prolific scorers. Also an accomplished football player, Aquino-Rios worked tirelessly in the off-season, on his shooting, his strength and his ball handling skills, all in preparation for this particular moment.

sportsbuzzAt week’s end. Lebanon stood 17-4 overall and 12-1 in Section One. With Aquino-Rios leading the way, the Cedars seem poised to make runs at both L-L League and District Three Class AAAAAA championships.

 

 

 

 

 

BlaiseWEEK ENDING Jan. 28

Some come between freshman and sophomore years. Others happen during the sophomore-to-junior transition.

Blaise Bressler’s big jump came between his junior and senior campaigns.

Bressler’s development, evolution and maturation as a wrestler has been and continues to be prominent. It’s almost like he’s a different wrestler this season.

At this weekend’s annual Lancaster-Lebanon League Wrestling Championships at Garden Spot High School, Bressler’s improvement as a wrestler was very apparent. The new Bressler captured the championship of the 152-pound weight class in impressive fashion.

Bressler, a senior, logged four falls on the way to his title. In the championship bout at 152, Bressler took opponent Max Martin of Cocalico down ten seconds in, put him on his back and then completed the pinning combination in 35 seconds.

sportsbuzzBressler has become somewhat of a pin master. The fall was the 22nd of his season and it moved his personal record this year to 32-6.

Not bad for a competitor who had a .500 record as a junior.

Bressler’s performance also helped the Vikings to their second straight team championship at the L-L league meet.

Bressler’s future plans include wrestling in college and perhaps becoming a pilot one day. Bressler also competed on the Northern Lebanon football team in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8696WEEK ENDING Jan. 21

If you know Ariel Jones and you’ve seen her play basketball, you’re not surprised by the fact that she’s a thousand-point scorer. What’s surprising is how quickly she became one.

From the seventh game of her sophomore season to the 14th game of her senior season. A span of 66 games and a scoring average of nearly 20 points per outing.

On Tuesday night at ‘The Cage’, Jones became the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program’s newest 1000-point scorer during a 62-42 demolition of McCaskey. The senior guard reached the coveted milestone early in the third quarter – on a three-pointer – and finished with a game-high 28 points, courtesy of four total three-pointers, six two-pointers and four-for-four foul shooting.

Later this week, Jones added to her career point total with  in a 51-28 triumph at Warwick and with a dozen in a 51-28 victory at Palmyra. With those wins, Jones’ Falcons improved to a sparkling 16-0 on the year.

sportsbuzzFor the season, A.J. is averaging just a click over 20 points a game and leads the team in three-pointers and with a free-throw shooting proficiency that’s over 80 percent.

Jones, who is considering a couple of local Division Two programs among her future college plans, is also an accomplished soccer player and holds the Cedar Crest record in the high jump.

 

 

 

IMG_8217WEEK ENDING Jan. 14

If you don’t follow Lebanon County boys’ basketball closely, you probably don’t know the name ‘Alex Yeager’. Not necessarily flashy, Yeager flies under the radar locally.

But one would be hard pressed to find any County baller who has improved as much, who has become as fundamentally sound, who has overachieved as much as Yeager.

This week, Yeager continued his assault on stardom with 36 points during two Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball outings.

On Tuesday night in Lancaster, the 5-10 junior combo guard poured in a team-high 17 points on six two-point field goals, a three-pointer and two-for-three foul shooting in a 75-50 road setback at Lancaster Mennonite. Then on Thursday evening in Myerstown, Yeager pumped in 19 points – on six total field goals, half of which came from beyond the arc, and four-for-six free throwing – during a 59-52 loss to the Elco Raiders.

sportsbuzzDespite the Vikings’ 4-8 overall mark, Yeager has averaged more than 14 points per game this season, has made nearly 76 percent of his charity tosses and is second on the club in total three-pointers.

Yeager is a big part of Northern Lebanon’s bright future.

 

 

 

 

 IMG_7227WEEK ENDING Jan. 7

Mason Bossert has never met a ‘three’ he didn’t like. He has built a solid scholastic basketball career around his ability to shoot ‘the rock’.

In fact, Lebanon County sports will remember him as one of the most prolific three-pointer shooters in its history.

On Tuesday evening in Myerstown, Bossert surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for his career during Elco’s 72-67 home setback to rival Annville-Cleona. Bossert collected his milestone with 1:50 left in the first half, on a charity toss while the Raiders were attempting to cut into the Little Dutchmen’s lead.

sportsbuzzOn the night, the 6-1 point senior guard poured in a game-high total of 25 points, on five three-pointers and four-for-six free throwing. Despite Bossert’s efforts, Elco fell to 2-7 on the season.

Bossert currently leads the Raiders in scoring with a points per game clip around 21. He has made nearly 30 three-pointers this season, on top of the 99 he drained over the course of last seasons.

Somewhat of a gym rat, Bossert aspires to compete in the sport on the college level.

 

 

IMG_6252WEEK ENDING Dec. 31

Scoring doesn’t define Isaac Blatt as a basketball player. Handling the ball, setting up teammates and playing defense does.

Let’s just say Blatt is a complete player, and leave it at that.

On Wednesday evening, Blatt tallied the 1,000th point of his career on the same night his Palmyra boys’ squad captured a championship. Blatt poured in a game-high 28 points, including his milestone point on a charity toss near the end of the Cougars’ 63-44 triumph over Ephrata, in the championship game of the Mounts’ holiday classic.

A day earlier, the Cougars had knocked off Elco 68-53 to reach the title tilt.

The 6-5 guard recorded his point total on 11 field goals, that included a pair of three-pointers and five dunks, and four-for-eight foul shooting. But his contributions to Palmyra’s championship went well beyond that, and into the realms of leadership, intangibles and sportsmanship.

sportsbuzzThe results moved Blatt and the Cougars to 8-1 on the year.

Blatt is also an outstanding baseball player, and as of yet is undecided about his future plans.

 

 

 

 

IMG_6160WEEK ENDING Dec. 24

You can see it in the way she moves, in the way she runs, in the way she shoots. Alexis Hill is healthy.

And so is the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team.

After having her sophomore season at Lebanon High School cut short by nagging back issues, Hill has been the Beavers’ brightest off-season addition.

This week, Hill’s brilliant play continued, as Lebanon Catholic served notice that it will be a force to be reckoned with in the Lancaster-Lebanon League with two huge wins over local rivals.

On Monday evening on Assumption Hill, the athletic Hill poured in 15 points to spearhead the Beavers’ 45-42 triumph over Northern Lebanon. Then two nights later in Myerstown, the 5-11 junior forward struck for 16 points, as Lebanon Catholic upended Elco, 62-46.

Hill’s performances in both outings were critical, within the confines of Lebanon Catholic’s offensive sets, on the defensive end and in the open floor.

sportsbuzzThrough six games this season, Hill is leading Lebanon Catholic with a scoring average approaching 20 points per outing. The Beavers currently sport a 5-1 overall record and a 3-0 mark in Section Three of the L-L.

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 17

IMG_5824When it comes to basketball, Olivia Richardson is following in her sister’s footsteps. And that’s a really good thing.

Or maybe the game just runs in her veins – and family.

Not unlike her older sister Carly, who’s now playing Division One basketball at Bucknell University, before her, Olivia is leading a hoops resurgence at Palmyra High School. She is at the forefront of the Cougars’ smooth transition from one era to the next.

Under new head coach Mary Manlove, the Cougars enjoyed a 3-0 week, and O. Richardson had her hands in all three victories.

On Tuesday evening at Mechanicsburg, Richardson struck for seven points during Palmyra’s important 37-30 road triumph over the hometown Wildcats. A night later at home, Richardson poured in a team-high 14 points in the Cougars’ non-league win over Hempfield.

sportsbuzzThen on Friday night in Harrisburg, Richardson contributed 11 points to the Cougars’ 49-38 victory over Susquehanna Township. All quality wins that Richardson and the Cougars earned by playing hard and playing smart.

In light of the outcomes, Palmyra now boasts a surprising 4-1 overall mark.

 

 

 

IMG_5557WEEK ENDING Dec. 10

They say that the best player on any basketball team inherently becomes its leader. Cole Laney is the best player on the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team.

At this weekend’s 18th annual Lebanon Booster Club Tip-Off Tournament, Laney led the Falcons by example.

Laney, an emerging junior forward, was named the event’s most valuable player, partly because he led Cedar Crest to the championship.

On Saturday evening, Laney knocked back a game-high 19 points to help the Falcons to a 58-42 triumph over the host and rival Cedars in the title tilt. A night earlier, Laney opened his 2016-71 campaign with 18 points during an 87-63 victory over Elco.

But Laney caught the attention of the tournament organizers and voters with his all-around performances on both nights – his rebounding, his defense, his solid decision-making. As the season goes on and Cedar Crest further discovers exactly who it is, Laney will be counted on to fill a leadership void left by graduation.

sportsbuzzLaney was also a selection to Lebanon Sports Buzz’s preseason all-Lebanon County boys’ basketball team.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4112WEEK ENDING Dec. 3

Marquis Davis is the new kid on the block. And the best way to fit in is to play well.

Let’s just say that Davis has done an admirable job of ingratiating himself to his Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball teammates.

Davis’ potential and importance to the Flying Dutchmen were never more evident than they were on Wednesday evening at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium. Davis turned in his best Flying Dutchmen performance to date, during a 78-55 whipping of Widener.

The junior point guard poured in a game-high 21 points on seven-for-ten shooting from the floor, a total that included six three-point field goals. In addition, Davis dished out a pair of assists, came up with a steal and overall played well defensively.

A transfer from Randolph-Macon, Davis’ ‘threes’ were timely in that they came when Lebanon Valley was extending its lead. Not only does Davis give the Flying Dutchmen a reliable third scoring option, he is also a calming influence on the Flying Dutchmen from his point guard position.

sportsbuzzDavis was a three-year captain at Toms River South High School in New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING Nov. 26

EvansBecky Evans is the little engine who could. She’s also the little engine who fuels the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team.

For as Evans goes, so go the Flying Dutchmen.

On Saturday afternoon at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasiun, Evans was again on top of her game. Her play propelled the Valley women to a 74-63 home triumph over Misericordia.

After the Flying Dutchmen forged a 33-32 edge at the break, they outscored Misercordia 41-31 over the second 20 minutes of action. But Evans was all over floor in both halves.

The junior guard out of Pine Grove totaled 21 points on 40 percent shooting from the field and five-for-five free throwing. Over her 37 minutes of action, Evans also contributed five assists, four rebounds and three steals to the LVC cause.

sportsbuzzThrough four games, Evans is averaging 14.8 points per outing and Lebanon Valley is 2-2.

Evans was also a key cog in a scholastic program at Pine Grove that has enjoyed both regular and post-season success during the 2010s.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2780WEEK ENDING Nov. 19

They say a good goalie can erase a defense’s mistakes. They also say that when one gets hot, he or she can can carry a team a long way.

The Palmyra field hockey team couldn’t have reached the state championship game without the stellar play of Cheyenne Sprecher.

This week, it was the performance of Sprecher which helped propel the Cougars to their third straight PIAA title tilt. Now a senior, Sprecher has been in the cage for each of those three runs.

Behind Sprecher’s aggressive, heady and steady play, Palmyra shut out rival Lower Dauphin 1-0 on Tuesday night at Milton Hershey School’s Henry Hershey Field, in the semifinals of the state playoffs. The outcome pushed Palmyra into Saturday’s PIAA Class AAA championship game at Whitehall-Coplay School District’s Zephyr Sports Complex, opposite District 11 champion Emmaus.

sportsbuzzThe shutout was Sprecher’s second in the state playoffs and her fourth postseason whitewashing overall.

Sprecher has committed to continue her athletic and academic pursuits by accepting a full grant-in-aid to Division One University of Connecticut.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3228WEEK ENDING Nov. 12

No individual likes to be compared to another person, especially an elder sibling. But while Jess Dembrowski is certainly her own person, the similarities between her and older sister Katie are striking.

Her leadership traits. Her playing skills. Her instincts for the game.

This week, the Palmyra field hockey team’s maturation as a unit continued, in the early rounds of the PIAA Class AAA postseason. And J. Dembrowski played a prominent role in that success.

Dembrowski had her hand – and stick – in three of the four playoff goals that the Cougars scored, including a pair of game-winners, as Palmyra netted two wins to advance to the state semifinals for the third straight fall.

Dembrowski tallied the decisive goal in Saturday’s 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Unionville, at Exeter Township High School. With time running down in the second half, Dembrowski stuck with a play she initiated and knocked home a rebound.

sportsbuzzEarlier in the game, Dembrowski had assisted on teammate Kylie Bomgardner’s goal that knotted the score at one.

On Tuesday at Milton Hershey School’s Henry Hershey Field, during the opening round of the state tournament, Dembrowski notched the initial tally of a 2-0 triumph over Council Rock South.

Dembrowski now has a team-leading 23 goals on the season.

 

 

 

IMG_5597WEEK ENDING Nov. 5

Noah Myers has always grasped the Annville-Cleona offense, he’s always understood it. Where he’s improved immensely is executing it, which involves making quick decisions at critical moments in plays.

There is little doubt that Myers’ managing of the Little Dutchmen’s veer/option offense has been a key to them winning a championship.

Myers’ excuteion was never better than it was on Friday night at home, when Annville-Cleona was claiming its share of the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three title with a 34-14 triumph over Donegal, in its season finale. With his legs and right arm, Myers had his hands in 224 total yards and three touchdowns.

After tying the game at seven with an 11-yard touchdown jaunt in the opening quarter, it was a 69-yard Myers’ pass to Griffin Hertz that re-tied the game at 14 shortly before halftime. Myers also scored on a 28-yard scamper in the fourth quarter that provided the icing for Annville-Cleona’s cake.

sportsbuzzThe junior signal-caller finished with 95 yards rushing on 17 keepers. Myers also completed three of his six pass attempts for 139 yards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6398WEEK ENDING Oct. 29

Stand next to Mason Cooper and you’d swear he’s a basketball player. But talk to him and it becomes very obvious he’s a football player, through and through.

And a very good one. Perhaps one of the best defensive players in all of Lebanon County.

On Friday night at Buck Swank Stadium, Cooper’s all-around efforts helped key his Palmyra Cougars to an important 35-24 victory over Trinity. Employing his trademark hustle and determination, Cooper was all over the field, both as a defensive end and a tight end on offense.

The win was the Cougars’ Lebanon County-leading seventh of the season, and it kept Palmyra in the running for a District Three Class AAAAA playoff berth.

sportsbuzzWhat makes the 6-5 Cooper so difficult for opposing offenses to deal with is his rare combination of size, strength and reach. He has been the foundation upon which Palmyra has built one of the most formidable defenses in the Mid-Penn Conference.

Cooper, who earlier in the year scored a touchdown on a fumble return, has posted career highs in receptions and receiving yards this year. He has scored seven career touchdowns for the Cougars.

During the spring, Cooper is also an accomplished thrower for the Palmyra boys’ track and field squad.

 

 

IMG_1708WEEK ENDING Oct. 22

October is the optimal fall month for peaking. When it comes to both foliage and running.

It would seem that Jesse Cruise is peaking at the perfect time of the season, as a runner and a leader. But it may be the Cedar Crest boys’ cross country team that is reaping the greatest rewards.

On Tuesday evening at Ephrata Middle School, during the annual contesting of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Cross Country Championships, Cruise and the Falcons approached their full potential. The senior ran the challenging 3.1-mile course in 17:05.7 to finish tenth among individuals.

Cruise’s performance spurred Cedar Crest to a gratifying second-place tie with Hempfield in the team standings, just behind champion Manheim Central. Following Cruise across the finish line was junior teammate Adam Wolfe.

Competing with Wolfe almost the entire way, Cruise enjoyed both a fast start and a strong finish. But he did fall short of his goal of running with the lead pack.

sportsbuzzUp next for Cruise and the Falcons will be another chance to reach new heights, at the District Three Class AAA Cross Country Championships in Hershey.

In the spring, Cruise is an accomplished distance runner for the Cedar Crest track and field unit.

 

 

 

 

IMG_5655WEEK ENDING Oct. 15

Is Tyler Horst more valuable to the Elco football team on the offensive side of the ball or the defensive side? It’s kind of like asking: Which is more valuable an apple or an orange?

Let’s just say one would be hard pressed to identify a local player more valuable to his team than Horst.

On Friday night in Myerstown, Horst enjoyed another big game for Elco – on both sides of the ball – while leading the Raiders to a 43-24 triumph over visiting Columbia. In addition to his stellar play at the linebacker position, Horst toted ‘The Rock’ 20 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns.

Horst’s six-yard jaunt to the promised land early in the second quarter pushed the Raiders’ lead to 18-7. Then a four-yard burst by Horst just ticks before the break provided Elco with some halftime breathing room.

The 6-1, 220-pound bruiser capped Elco’s scoring late in the third period and gave the Raiders a 43-8 bulge.

sportsbuzzThrough seven games this season, Horst, a senior workhouse, has piled up 522 yards on the ground on 117 rushing attempts and has tallied seven touchdowns.

Horst is entertaining aspirations of playing football on the next level, but it would likely be as a linebacker.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0383WEEK ENDING Oct. 8

Sometimes the best team doesn’t win. That’s why they play the game.

But sometimes the best player does win. That’s why he’s the best.

On Monday afternoon at Pine Meadows Golf Course, Cody Tobias simply reinforced a fact that some already knew – that he’s the top high school golfer in Lebanon County. Over the 5,734-yard, par-72 layout, the Elco junior earned the individual title at the Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championship.

Tobias fired a very respectable one-over par 73 to top runner-up and teammate Ryan Woelfling by five strokes. A two-time District Three qualifier, Tobias’ outing also helped the Raiders to their first ever team crown at the event.

sportsbuzzWhile Tobias’ showing was a bit of an up-and-down affair, there was certainly more good than bad about it. Over his round, Tobias carded five birdies, nine pars, two bogeys and two double bogeys.

Tobias started well, with birdies on two of his first three holes. He sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the 304-yard, par-four eighth test and two-putted for a ‘chicken’ at the 409-yard, par-five tenth.

Tobias also birdied Pine Meadows’ par-four 16th hole, its difficult par-four second hole by driving the green and the par-five fifth.

 

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WEEK ENDING Oct. 1

The Northern Lebanon football team isn’t off to the kind of start that it’s accustomed to. But the reason isn’t that the Vikings are starting their third different quarterback in three years.

Michigan Daub has held up his end of the bargain.

On Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, Daub enjoyed another outstanding effort, but it wasn’t enough, as Northern Lebanon dropped a 48-31 decision to its guests from York Suburban. Daub directly had his hands in 228 of the Vikings’ 315 total yards, but his side seemed to be playing catch-up all night long.

Daub completed ten of his 21 pass attempts for 216 yards and a touchdown. He also scored a pair of TDs with his legs.

Daub’s first rushing touchdown, a four-yard keeper, came early in the second stanza and knotted the score at 13 apiece. Then in the third quarter, Daub scored on a two-yard plunge to pull Northern Lebanon to within 34-25 of the lead.

In the final quarter, Daub connected with teammate Christian Trader for a 26-yard touchdown toss that made the score 41-31.

sportsbuzzThe outcome made the Vikings 2-3 overall, but they are 1-0 in a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three where they are two-time defending champions.

 

 

 

 

IMG_5581WEEK ENDING Sept. 24

Noah Myers can chuck a football a country mile. But it’s his legs – and eyes – which have been the Annville-Cleona football team’s biggest offensive weapon this season.

On Friday night, Myers’ running ability helped produce another Annville-Cleona victory, this time over rival Elco.

At Elco Stadium, Myers’ execution of the Little Dutchmen’s triple-option offense proved critical in a 27-21 triumph over the Raiders. As the quarterback and initiator, Myers showed the way for an Annville-Cleona attack which churned out 355 yards on the ground.

Myers did his part with 115 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.

Facing a 7-0 deficit midway through the second period, Myers got the Little Dutchmen on the scoreboard. He exploited a crease in the Elco defense and then out ran the Raiders 77 yards to pay dirt.

sportsbuzzIt was also a Myers touchdown run late in the same quarter that gave Annville-Cleona the lead at halftime, one it would never relinquish. Myers 12-yard scamper 27 seconds before the break put the Little Dutchmen ahead 20-14.

With the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three opening win, Annville-Cleona improved to 3-2 on the year.

 

 

 

lilyWEEK ENDING Sept. 17

Members of the Lilaceae family,  lilies prosper with proper light and water, and when they’re firmly rooted in fertile soil. But one of the subfamilies – the Brubaker strain – apparently does best when it is on the move.

On Saturday afternoon at Annville-Cleona High School, during the contesting of the annual Lebanon County Cross Country Championships, Lily Brubaker got rolling, and enjoyed one of her finest moments as a student-athlete to date. Brubaker won the girls’ race and claimed the female individual championship at the event.

But what made it more impressive was the fact that the Elco sophomore was competing in her first country cross country championship ever, during her first season out for the sport. Brubaker covered the challenging 3.1-mile course in 20:08.8, to claim the title by almost seven seconds.

And Brubaker also accomplished the feat in dramatic – comeback – fashion.

Down by almost a hundred yards to Palmyra’s Ellie Keck through the middle portions of the race, Brubaker steadily closed her deficit over the final mile. Finally, with about a hundred yards to go, Brubaker  made her move and passed Keck with a strong kick on a small incline.

After that, Brubaker never looked back.

Her performance also helped the Raider girls to a third-place showing in the team standings.

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IMG_7017WEEK ENDING Sept. 10

Given the intricacies of his team’s new offense and his age, it may take a while for Zakee Sailsman to fully grasp his duties as the signal-caller for the Lebanon football team. Or he may be a quick study.

One of the two.

On Friday night at Ephrata High School, during the Cedars’ impressive 37-8 road win, the athletic Sailsman showed he’s beginning to figure some things out. The sophomore quarterback had his hands in four of Lebanon’s touchdowns and 291 of the Cedars’ total yards.

On the ground, Sailsman rushed 13 times for 139 yards and a touchdown. Through the air, Sailsman completed four of six pass attempts for 152 yards and three touchdowns, as the Cedars raced out to a 37-0 third-quarter advantage and never looked back.

sportsbuzzSailsman got Lebanon off on the right foot when he hit teammate Jeremiah Beckley with a 52-yard scoring strike that gave the Cedars a 7-0 lead. Then Lebanon upped its advantage to 13-0 in the opening minutes of the second quarter when Sailsman found Phil Hillesheim with a 50-yard touchdown toss.

Sailsman hooked up with Beckley for another touchdown through the air before halftime, and late in the third scored a TD with his feet, this one from 34 yards away.

After that, he rested.

 

IMG_7187WEEK ENDING Sept. 3

Think of the Cedar Bowl as one big stage. It is a place where stars are born and heroes show off their mettle.

It’s also a place where memories are created.

On Friday night at Lebanon Alumni Stadium, during the 45th Annual playing of the Cedar Bowl, Tate Seyfert enjoyed a break-out performance. The senior receiver stepped up and led his Cedar Crest mates to a convincing 26-14 victory over rival Lebanon High.

While Seyfert was all over the place on offense and defense, his main role for the Falcons was as a touchdown-maker. He scored three times to place his personal stamp upon the spectacle.

Seyfert helped exorcise the Falcons’ big game butterflies by hauling in a 19-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Logan Horn, to give his side a 10-0 lead late in the opening period. Then Seyfert took to the ground and scored on an eight-yard jaunt to the end zone on Cedar Crest’s first possession of the second half.

Seyfert punctuated the performance later in the third period, grabbing a 38-yard scoring strike from Horn that put the Falcons ahead 26-7.

sportsbuzzNot a bad night of work.

 

 

 

IMG_6395WEEK ENDING Aug. 27

It was such a team win that everyone stood out. But if one had to single out one individual, that individual would have to be Alon Rhette.

It was Week Zero, but Rhette and his Palmyra football squad appeared to be in mid-season form.

On Friday night in Camp Hill, Rhette’s Cougars opened their 2016 scholastic football campaign with a surprising 31-0 whitewashing of the home-standing Lions. While the Cougars excelled in all facets of the game – special teams, defense, kicking – it was the running game that stood out.

Operating behind an active offensive line, Rhette churned and bulled and powered his way to 122 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Rhette, a tough running senior, spearheaded a Cougar running attack that produced 208 yards on the ground.

sportsbuzzRhette’s touchdown with 44 ticks remaining in the opening quarter got the Cougars off and running, staking them to a 7-0 lead. Rhette then applied the finishing touch to the triumph 30 seconds into the final period when he raced into the right side of the end zone from 28 yards out.

Palmyra is coming off a 2015 season in which it qualified for the District Three playoffs.

 

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING Aug. 20

Everybody knows Camyrn Shaak can hit a three-pointer. But who knew Shaak could hit a baseball – so far, so hard, so long?

Despite his sleek frame, he is able to generate power from unknown sources.

On Saturday afternoon, Shaak’s power was on display for everyone to see, during Coleman Memorial Park’s 30th annual hitting contest. Shaak captured the contest’s legion division in impressive fashion.

With his 25 swings, Shaak, a senior-to-be member of the Lebanon High School baseball club, accumulated an eye-popping 93 points, to easily out distance runner-up Elijah Blauch’s total by 36 points..

During his at-bat, Shaak swatted three balls that left the yard.

sportsbuzzOverall, it was Shaak’s seventh Coleman Memorial Hitting Contest championship.

In addition to being an accomplished hitter and pitcher for the Cedars in the spring, Shaak also competes for the Fifth Ward entry in the Lebanon County American Legion League over the summer. In the winter, Shaak is two-guard and sharp shooter for the Lebanon High boys’ basketball team.

 

Fisher headWEEK ENDING Aug. 13

Derek Fisher is a very talented young baseball player. But he is an even harder worker – tireless, some might say.

Fisher’s work is beginning to pay off.

On Sunday, Fisher was promoted to the Houston Astros’ top minor-league affiliate, Class AAA Fresno of the Pacific Coast League. A 2011 graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Fisher had spent most of his summer playing for Houston’s Class  AA club in Corpus Christi, Texas.

For the Hooks, Fisher hit .245 in 102 games, with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. In 371 Class AA at-bats, Fisher also recorded 13 doubles, four triples, stole 23 bases and sported a slugging percentage of .431.

sportsbuzzFisher’s promotion to Class AAA also bodes well for his future in the Astros’ organization. While he is expected to spend the rest of the season with the Grizzlies, Fisher could get a shot to make Houston’s major-league club in the spring of 2017.

Fisher was selected by the Astros with the 37th overall selection in the 2014 MLB draft, following a successful junior campaign at the University of Virginia. He was rated as the 26th overall prospect in that draft.

Fisher was also chosen by the Texas Rangers in the 2011 MLB draft in the spring of his senior season at Cedar Crest. But he declined to sign and matriculated to the Cavaliers.

 

 

IMG_5352WEEK ENDING Aug. 6

When he last played, he was a wide-eyed college student. This time around, he was a full-grown adult male.

It may be that Ryan Mellinger’s tennis game took on a little seasoning over that span.

On Thursday evening, Mellinger celebrated his return to the 49th annual Mount Gretna Men’s Club tennis tournament by copping the championship of the hallowed event. The third-seeded Mellinger notched a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 triumph over top seed and defending champion Mike Lesko in the title match.

The 37-year-old Mellinger, who hadn’t competed in the event in 15 years, won five straight games early in the third and decisive set to settle the back-and-forth affair. Mellinger’s five-game winning streak came at a time when it appeared elusive momentum was squarely in Lesko’s corner.

The first set was on serve at 3-2, when Mellinger broke Lesko to assume a two-game advantage. Mellinger then held his next two service games to close out the set.

sportsbuzzPlaying with partner Dave Wolfe, Mellinger also finished second in the doubles competition. Mellinger and Wolfe absorbed a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 loss to Colin Muriaka and Jack Muraika in final doubles’ match.

Mellinger had reached the championship match with a  6-2, 3-6, 6-2 semifinal triumph over number-two seed Jackson Muriaka.

NoahWEEK ENDING July 30

It may have been a marriage of convenience for Noah Firestone. But the way it played out, it was like a match made in heaven.

On Saturday at the 6,562-yard, par-72 Lebanon Country Club, during the third day of competition at the 71st annual W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners golf tournament, Firestone’s acceptance of Chris Gebhard’s proposal had every look of a right decision. Firestone, a native of Palmyra, and Gebhard, a Lebanon Country Club member, combined their talents for a 3&2 triumph over 14th-seeded Michael DiSante and David Schrantz, in an opening round match of the prestigious event’s championship flight.

Firestone and Gebhard had earned the tournament’s number-three seed in the championship flight by firing a blistering 64 during qualifying earlier in the week.

sportsbuzzLast year, Firestone reached the championship match of the Sullivan with partner Brady Goodling. But when Goodling turned professional, Firestone found himself without a partner for this season’s event.

That’s when Gebhard, who was also partner-less, stepped in and proposed a collaboration to Firestone, one day when their paths crossed at LCC prior to the Sullivan. The pairing was almost an instant success.

Firestone also plays competitive golf at the collegiate level, recently transferring from Monmouth University to Bowling Green.

 

 

IMG_4853WEEK ENDING July 23

Tommy Kintzer is a superintendent. That means he knows his way around a golf course.

Because he was once the superintendent at Blue Mountain, he came to know every inch of that Fredericksburg golf course. It was knowledge that served him well at the 29th annual Lebanon County Senior Amateur championship.

On a scorching Friday over Blue Mountain’s 5,558-yard, par-71 layout, Kintzer fired a two-under par 69 to win his first County senior amateur title on his initial attempt. Kintzer edged another first-time senior – Danny Brown – thanks in part to a 20-foot, uphill birdie on the final hole, Blue Mountain’s 306-yard, par-four 18th.

Kintzer, the one-time superintendent at Iron Valley Golf Course and the current superintendent at Pine Meadows, posted a total of three birdies, 14 pars and a single bogey over his round. But Kintzer’s championship was as much a testament to his patience as it was his golf course knowledge.

After starting his day with seven straight pars, Kintzer got into the red with a short birdie on the par-five eighth hole. Then at the par-three 12th, Kintzer reached two-under with a twisting 15-foot birdie.

sportsbuzzA bogey at the par-four 17th hole tied Kintzer with Brown for the lead. But that was before his heroics on number 18.

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING July 16

IMG_3780The Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League did not name a Most Valuable Player for its best-of-three championship series. But if it would have, it would’ve been Alec ‘Gator’ Barr.

Barr was named the summer circuit’s Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine’s Outstanding Pitcher. But he was also clearly the best  player on the field overall.

On Wednesday night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field in Fredericksburg, Barr pitched Annville to a surprising 1-0 victory over the home-standers, in the decisive third and final game of the set. During his route-going decision, the talented right-hander scattered four hits, struck out two and walked none.

Barr was the model of efficiency. Pitching to contact and his defense playing well behind him, Barr needed a mere 58 pitches to get through his seven innings of work.

He allowed a Fredericksburg runner to advance as far as second base just twice during the game.

sportsbuzzBut with his eye at the plate and daring base-running, Barr was a thorn in Fredericksburg’s side the entire series.

Barr has plans to further pursue his baseball exploits on the collegiate level.

 

WEEK ENDING July 9

IMG_3163Though there were more than a few tense moments, Fifth Ward did ultimately manage to advance to the semifinal round of the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League’s postseason. But perhaps more importantly, Fifth Ward continued to change a climate.

And Jorge Garcia has been one of the main transformers.

Garcia was certainly in the middle of things this week, as third-seeded Fifth Ward edged sixth-seeded Richland, two games to one in a best-of-three opening-round series. Garcia scored the winning run in the eighth inning of the middle game of the series on Wednesday night at Elco High School’s Lyle Krall Field, after igniting the rally with a one-out single.

The following evening at Fifth Ward Athletic Field, Garcia and Lebanon edged Richland 1-0 to move on to the semis.

sportsbuzzThen on Saturday night at Annville-Cleona High School, Garcia got Fifth Ward off on the right foot against second-seeded Annville. His booming home run to left field in the top of the second inning of Game One jump started his club’s offense and Fifth Ward went on to score two more runs in the frame to assume a 3-1 lead.

Though Fifth Ward would go on to drop its semifinal opener to Annville 5-3, it was apparent that Garcia and his mates had very much become contenders.

 

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WEEK ENDING July 2

There are so many good things, so many positive performances going on the local sports scene, that sometimes its difficult to identify one Athlete of the Week. But this week, it was a no-brainer.

Jim Gardner’s showing at the Lebanon County Amateur made him an easy and obvious selection.

On Sunday at Pine Meadows Golf Course, Gardner completed a dominant and historic outing at the 58th edition of the championship of local amateur golf. Gardner carded an even par score of 72 over Pine Meadows’ 6,767-yard test, for a five-under par total of 139, seven shots lower than runner-up Chris Gebhard’s score.

sportsbuzzGardner entered Sunday’s final day with a four-shot advantage, courtesy of a blistering opening round of 67 the day prior. Gardner’s closing round featured four birdies, 12 pars and four bogeys.

Gardner’s County Amateur title was his second in-a-row, a feat last accomplished by Chad Schulze in 1998. In addition, Gardner became only the third competitor in the history of the event to capture three championships overall.

 

WEEK ENDING June 25

IMG_1720
Izaiah Trimble is a graduate of Cedar Crest High School. Most of his teammates are from Annville-Cleona High School.

But Trimble has experienced no difficulties fitting in with the Annville American Legion baseball club. That’s because actions always carry more weight than words.

On Tuesday night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field in Fredericksburg, Trimble was a major contributor to his new team’s most important win of the summer season. His hit in the top of the fifth-inning gave Annville a lead it would never relinquish, during a 4-3 victory over the home-standing F-burg Chix.

sportsbuzzNursing a 2-1 lead, Trimble stroked a two-run single that scored mates Cole Waldhausen and Hunter Long and pushed Annville’s advantage to three runs. Despite a spirited Fredericksburg rally in the bottom of the final inning, Annville managed to hold on for triumph.

The result was significant in that it moved second-place Annville to 5-4 and within three-and-a-half games of front-running Fredericksburg in the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League standings. It was also Fredericksburg’s first loss of the summer.

On that particular evening, Trimble also manned a steady shortstop for Annville. In addition to his exploits on the diamond for Cedar Crest this spring, Trimble also successfully competed in basketball and football for the Falcons.

NicholsWEEK ENDING June 18

In baseball circles, it’s known as a ‘no-no’. But for Jordan Nichols and the Fredericksburg American Legion baseball team, it was a Yes!, Yes!, Yes!.

Nichols is one of the premiere pitchers in the local summer baseball circuit. But this week, he was down right dominant – and dare we say, un-hittable.

On Wednesday evening at Earl Wenger Memorial Field in Fredericksburg, Nichols’ overpowering stuff was on full display. The veteran southpaw twirled a masterful no-hit shutout, during F-burg’s 1-0 triumph over Campbelltown.

Actually, Nichols’ performance was just another excellent outing from Fredericksburg’s pitching staff. Through eight games this season, F-burg pitchers have surrendered a total of seven runs.

Nichols’ outing also kept his side’s record unblemished, at 8-0. Not only is Fredericksburg the front-runner in this summer’s Lebanon County American Legion League race, it now appears to be the favorite to claim the circuit’s championship.

And one would be hard-pressed to identify a more important reason than Nichols.

 

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IMG_1095WEEK ENDING June 11

A more talented baseball player one would be hard-pressed to find locally. But Evan Hallowell’s value to the Palmyra Cougars goes beyond that, to his character.

His leadership skills. His supportive nature. The way he goes about his business.

Hallowell’s tangibles and intangibles were two of the key components to Palmyra’s run to the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. It was a run that came to halt on Monday at Parkland High School, during a 7-6, opening-round loss to District 11 champion Palmerton.

But as is his nature, Hallowell was in the middle of everything right about the Cougars’ performance, including a hit and a run scored, from his number-three hole in the lineup. Defensively, Hallowell also held down a steady center field for Palmyra.

sportsbuzzThe Cougars, who came in second during the regular season in the Mid-Penn Conference’s Keystone Division, concluded their campaign at 17-8.

Individually, Hallowell batted .354 this spring, which included 23 hits and 16 RBIs.

Hallowell’s efforts also landed him a spot on Lebanon Sports Buzz’s All-Lebanon County baseball team.

 

WEEK ENDING June 4

IMG_9985Evan Horn didn’t really do all that much last week. Maybe started preparing for playing football at New Hampshire University in the fall.

But Horn is being honored as Athlete of the Week anyway, for his career achievements at Cedar Crest High School. And what a career it was.

Horn’s spectacular athletic career as a Falcon recently came to an end on a long jump runway inside Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the preliminary round of the PIAA Track and Field Championships’ Class AAA competition, Probably not the way he envisioned it. But Horn was never one to dwell on the end of his scholastic career, or over think things, anyway.

In four short years, with the help of the Falcons’ coaching staff, Horn transformed himself into a state-level track-and-field athlete, in both the long jump and the javelin.

On the basketball floor, Horn helped transform an also-ran Cedar Crest boys’ program into a District Three Class AAAA power and a two-time Lancaster-Lebanon League champion. When the ultra-competitive Horn was on the floor, the Falcons were something special to behold.

In football, Horn also helped lead a Falcon resurgence. Last season, Horn’s Falcons qualified for the District Three Class AAAA postseason for the first time in more than 20 years.

sportsbuzzBecause of his accomplishments, Horn has been nominated as one of the finalists for the ‘Pop’ Kelchner award, given annually by the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for athletic excellence locally.

To say he will be missed in South Lebanon, well that would be a gross understatement.

 

IMG_0510WEEK ENDING May 28

Due to her involvement in a number of sports, Reagan Hess is a very busy young lady. But Hess still finds time for a hobby.

You see, the Annville-Cleona junior is a collector. She collects medals.

At this weekend’s PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, Hess added two more to her collection. They were the eighth and ninth medals she earned this spring.

On Friday evening, Hess garnered a silver medal in the Class AA long jump with a leap of 19-1, a personal best. Then on Saturday afternoon, she picked up some fifth-place hardware in the 100-meter dash, with a time of 12.23.

sportsbuzzA week earlier, at the District Three T&F meet, on the same Seth Grove Stadium grounds, Hess had copped three gold medals. She won the 200-meter dash, the 100-meter dash, as well as the long jump.

But back in April, at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships at Lebanon High School, Hess took home four gold medals. Hess, who could become Lebanon County’s all-time leading goal scorer among female soccer players this fall, finished first in the long jump, the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and anchored Annville-Cleona’s winning 400-meter relay team.

 

WEEK ENDING May 21

IMG_0086Dakota Leonhard had a difficult decision to make, a choice if you will. Throw at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Track and Field Championships or escort his girlfriend to the prom.

After carefully weighing all his options, Leonhard chose to skip the league meet in favor of the dance. But what made the Northern Lebanon senior’s decision a little bit easier to wrap around was the fact that he had a back-up plan.

On Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the 92nd annual contesting of the District Three Track and Field Championships, Leonhard made up for lost time. He competed successfully in both the Class AAA shot put and javelin competitions.

First, Leonhard was the runner-up to Manheim Central’s Tyler Hoag in the shot put. Leonhard uncorked a heave of 54-4.75 to grab the silver.

Then, Leonhard garnered the bronze medal in the javelin. Leonhard’s best throw of the day covered 180-06.

sportsbuzzBoth efforts earned Leonhard spots in the PIAA Track and Field Championships, back at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium next week.

And thus the beauty of time management and prioritizing.

 

WEEK ENDING May 14

IMG_9488Ariel Jones is a basketball player by trade. So that means she should be good at jumping, right?

Well, yes, Jones is good at jumping. But more because of her overall athletic ability than any skill she has developed on the basketball floor.

On Friday and Saturday at the Lancaster-Lebanon Track and Field Championships, at Hempfield High School, the Cedar Crest junior did some different kinds of jumping. But she did it with as much style, grace and effectiveness as she does in her favorite sport.

Jones newly honed jumping skills netted her two golds and a silver at the league meet. The event did not recognize an outstanding female athlete, but if it had, Jones would’ve been in the running.

Credit-UnionSaturday morning, Jones captured the high jump competition with an effort of 5-2. Then later in the day, she posted a 17-9.25, more than a foot better than her personal best, to win the long jump event.

Jones actually missed a third gold medal by less than an inch, when she finished as the runner-up to McCaskey’s Precious Reid-White in Friday evening’s triple jump.

But what’s most remarkable about Jones accomplishments is that she’s only been jumping competitively for less than two years.

 

IMG_9018WEEK ENDING May 7

It wasn’t a particularly great week for Cole Blatt. But the same can certainly not be said for Blatt’s spring.

Blatt has probably been the Elco baseball team’s most valuable player to this point of the season, one during which the Raiders are challenging for berths in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AAA postseasons.

Through 14 games this season, the senior southpaw has been the ace of a Raiders’ pitching staff that has enjoyed more than its share of success. In 26 innings pitched, Blatt has surrendered  a mere 13 hits, struck out 12 and walked 11.

He also sports a minuscule earned run average below 1.00.

But Blatt is getting the job done at the plate for Elco as well. This season, from the top of the Raiders’ order, Blatt is batting a torrid .478 with four runs scored, three RBIs and an on-base-percentage over .500.

Partly through Blatt’s efforts, Elco had compiled a 9-5 overall mark and an 8-4 league record, through week’s end. If Blatt can continue his stellar play, the Raiders stand a good chance of making a rare playoff appearance.

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IMG_8067WEEK ENDING April 30

A big fish in a small pond? Perhaps.

But the title of ‘Lebanon County’s Top Scholastic Male Tennis Player’ is something that no one will ever be able to take away from Nick Tull.

On Monday at Cedar Crest High School, Tull her earned that title when he captured the championship of the Number One Singles bracket at the Lebanon County Tennis Championship. And Tull left no doubts about it, with his 6-0, 6-0 whitewashing of Annville-Cleona’s Julian DyReyes-Kapp in the final match.

The Cedar Crest senior was all over DyReyes-Kapp from the start, and never relented. Tull wore down the Little Dutchman with a devastating combination of high-powered serves, well-placed backhands and strong forehands.

Credit-UnionTull’s championship represented the tenth straight season that a Cedar Crest player has won the Number One Singles title.

But maybe even more sweet was the fact that Tull’s crown helped the Falcons to the overall team championship. The title was the Falcons’ 15th overall, in the 22-year history of the event, but their first outright crown since 2012.

 

 

IMG_7490WEEK ENDING April 23

When the job is tough, and someone has to do it, Hunter Long knows how to get it done right. He is the Annville-Cleona baseball team’s go-to guy.

At the plate, and behind it.

Long was certainly the right man for the job on Monday at home against Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three front-runner Manheim Central. The senior  catcher led the Little Dutchmen to an important 6-2 victory over the Barons.

Long drilled a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning to provide Annville-Cleona with what would prove to be the decisive runs. Long’s drive was key in that it provided an immediate response to the two runs Manheim Central had scored in its previous at-bat to knot the score.

But Long also got it done behind the plate, from his catching position. He called a good game, and generally handled winning pitcher Eli Setlock well.

Credit-UnionThe result made Long and the Little Dutchmen 7-2 overall and 5-2 in Section Four of the L-L. It also snapped Annville-Cleona’s modest two-game losing skein.

For the week, Long hit .375 with a double and four RBIs. For the season, Long is batting well over .300 with 10 RBIs.

 

 

IMG_7027WEEK ENDING April 16

Kayla Bonawitz has seen it all during her career with the Palmyra softball program. The good and the bad. The tranquility and the controversy.

But during the past four years, Bonawitz has always been a steadying influence on the players around her. She has led by example with her play on the field.

Last week, Bonawitz continued to lead the Cougars’ resurgence, both on the bench and in the field. At the plate, from the top of the Palmyra batting order, the senior  shortstop went  a combined five-for-eleven – a .455 clip – with two RBIs, a pair of doubles and four runs.

During a 12-0 home rout of Harrisburg on Tuesday, Bonawitz pieced together a two-for-four afternoon. Then the following day, in a 15-2 romp over  Middletown, she went three-for-four and scored three times.

Credit-UnionThrough eight games this season, Bonawitz and the Cougars are sitting at 4-4 overall. Bonawitz continues to hit well above the .400 line.

Bonawitz, who entertains aspirations to play the game at the next level, is also the Cougars’ best fielder and captain of the defense. So if one was to make the assumption that Bonawitz is Palmyra’s best all-around player, well he or she probably wouldn’t meet with too much argument.

 

 

WEEK ENDING April 9IMG_6683 (2)

Dylan Spagnola is a selective, aggressive, disciplined batter at the plate. His goal is to make contact, put the ball in play and get a hit – in that order.

But on Friday afternoon in Harrisburg, it was an at-bat during which Spagnola didn’t get a hit that proved to be his most productive.

Spagnola’s run-producing ground-out scored teammate Brandon Charochak with the winning run from third base, as the Palmyra baseball team edged Central Dauphin East 5-4, in a tense Mid-Penn Keystone Division struggle. It was the only at-bat during which Spagnola did not register a hit.

Spagnola entered the critical plate appearance with three hits in his previous three at-bats. one of which was a double. With the result, the Cougars improved to 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the division.

Earlier in the week, during an 11-1 loss to rival Hershey, Spagnola had posted a two-for-four line at the dish.

Credit-UnionThrough the week, Spagnola was hitting right around .261 at the plate for the spring.

 

 

IMG_6549WEEK ENDING April 2

Maddie Gable knows when to lead, and when to follow.  This season, the Cedar Crest softball team may need Gable to lead more than she ever has before.

And Gable certainly knows how to lead, both with words and by example.

On Tuesday afternoon at Northern Lebanon High School, Gable showed the way for the Falcons, during an important 4-3 road win against their Lebanon County rival Vikings. Gable was on top of her game, on the mound and at the plate.

The senior captain went the distance to pick up the ‘W’. The right-hander scattered ten hits, surrendered three earned runs and struck out three in her seven innings of work.

At the plate, from the middle of the Falcons’ order, Gable was more prolific. She collected three hits in four official at-bats.

The triumph pushed Cedar Crest’s early season record to 1-1.

Credit-UnionGable is a second-year captain on a Falcon team that is the midst of some rebuilding this spring, that from a program which is seeking direction. Gable’s contributions to the CC cause will certainly be felt in 2016, and beyond.

 

 

WEEK ENDING March 26

IMG_6447Lebanon doesn’t beat Cedar Crest very often, in many sports. Football. Basketball. And especially baseball.

But on Thursday afternoon in South Lebanon, the Cedars came up with a rare victory over the Falcons. And Cody Kissinger was in the middle of everything.

In the season opener for both rivals, Kissinger pitched Lebanon High to a 6-5 victory over Cedar Crest. The sturdy junior right-hander got the pitching victory by  going the distance, scattering nine hits, allowing two earned runs, striking out two and walking none.

It was Lebanon’s first win over Cedar Crest in baseball in 22 years.

Kissinger also helped himself at the plate. Batting out of the clean-up spot in the Cedars’ lineup, Kissinger drove home a run and also scored one himself.

Credit-UnionKissinger’s RBI-hit in the top of the first inning staked the Cedars to a 1-0 lead. Lebanon went on to score two more runs in its opening at-bat, then extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the third.

Also an accomplished football player and basketball player, Kissinger had been on the losing side when the Cedars and Falcons squared off on the gridiron and hardwood earlier this school year.

 

WEEK ENDING March 19

SmithSometimes when high school student-athletes go off to college, we lose track of them. So if a former scholastic star is going to toil in anonymity at college, it might as well be close to home.

Over the past few years, Zach Smith has been quietly putting together a solid baseball career at Lebanon Valley College.

This week, the former Cedar Crest stand-out helped the Flying Dutchmen to a 1-3 week. After being swept at Widener on Saturday, Smith and Lebanon Valley found themselves standing at 5-9 on the spring.

Smith, a heady, athletic performer, has done his part by playing a solid shortstop for LVC. At the plate, the senior is closing in on the 100th-hit of his Flying Dutchmen career.

Last season, Smith was honored as with an all-MAC Commonwealth second-team selection. In 2015, Smith started 28 of Lebanon Valley’s 29 games and hit at a .319 clip.

Credit-UnionHe scored 21 runs drove home 16 teammates and accumulated 34 total bases. He also reached base at a .414 rate and swiped a couple of bags.

 

 

 

 

FourthWEEK ENDING March 12

To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.The bad news for Luke Funck is that he’s not the best Class AA 182-pound wrestler in the state of Pennsylvania. The good news is he knows what it looks like, and what it takes to become a state champion.

This weekend’s PIAA Wrestling Championships conducted at Hershey’s Giant Center was certainly an eventful one for Funck. The Northern Lebanon junior finished a very respectable fourth in his 182-pound weight-class bracket.

But what was intriguing for Funck was the fact that he was beaten by the three gentlemen who finished above him on the medal podium. But here’s the best part: all three of those wrestlers are seniors.

Credit-UnionIn the Class AA consolation final on Saturday afternoon, Funck endured a 4-1 setback to Dakota Greer of Franklin, the returning state champion at 182 pounds. Funck had been relegated to the third-place bout by a similar loss to eventual state champion Greg Bulsak of South Park on Friday evening.

Funck concluded his 11th grade year at 42-3 and as the first Viking wrestler to earn a state medal since assistant coach Jim Collins captured gold 15 years ago. Funck also became the first Lebanon County wrestler to take home a state medal in ten years.

 

IMG_5293-208x300WEEK ENDING March 5

Minus her sidekick, there were times on Friday night that Alyssa Austin tried to everything by herself. There were other times when she felt all alone.

Or at least lonely.

With fellow star Ariel Jones on the bench and unavailable, Austin took on an even greater responsibility for the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team, during their PIAA Class AAAA opener at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. But Austin could only do so much, as the Falcons endured a 65-42 season-ending setback to Central Bucks South.

Austin tallied all 12 of Cedar Crest’s first-quarter points, and the Falcons hung tough with the third-place finisher out of District One for the contest’s first 13 minutes. But Austin picked up her third foul with about three minutes left in the first half, and was forced to join Jones on the pines.

Credit-UnionAfter that, it was pretty much all downhill for the Falcons. Austin did return for the second half and did not pick up another foul, but Cedar Crest could not muster a run at Central Bucks West.

For her part, Austin, a 6-1 junior post player, finished the game with 19 points, six blocks and five rebounds. Austin enjoyed a marvelous 11th-grade campaign, after elevating her game last year as a sophomore.

 

WEEK ENDING Feb. 27

IMG_4746As a first-year senior on a team that starts four sophomores, Allison Warren’s role on the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team is fairly clear. Set the tone. Lead by example. Provide a calming influence.

It may have taken Warren a bit of time to grow into her role. But as she has, the results have become clear.

On Thursday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, Warren helped the Beavers roll to their 18th District Three Class A championship. Warren pumped in a game-high 21 points which included three ‘treys’, as Lebanon Catholic dismissed Halifax 67-43.

But not only were Warren’s points quantity, they were also quality. They were key points that can at critical junctures in the first half, when the game was being decided, not unlike her timely rebounds and crucial assists.

Credit-UnionOn Tuesday night, Warren was also instrumental in the decision that sent Lebanon Catholic to the championship game – a 57-36 semifinal triumph over the Christian School of York. On that night, Warren drained a pair of three-point field goals and pumped in 18 points to tie teammate Neesha Pierre for high scoring honors.

Lebanon Catholic improved to 18-4 all-time in District Three title tilts.

 

BlattWEEK ENDING FEB. 20

Isaac Blatt was one of only a couple of juniors named to Lebanon Sports Buzz’s preseason Al-County boys’ basketball squad. And Blatt had the type of season that did nothing to dispel that recognition.

Blatt’s 11th-grade campaign came to a close on Monday, when he and his Palmyra boys’ basketball team endured a 45-44 home setback to Gettysburg, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA tournament. But Blatt and the Cougars did not go quietly – or without a fight.

With an eye on the quarterfinals, Blatt almost single-handedly placed the Cougars on his back late in the third quarter, after being taken down hard while attempting a dunk.

Credit-UnionThe athletic 6-6 forward notched Palmyra’s initial eight points of the final quarter, as the Cougars transformed a six-point hole into a 37-35 advantage. Blatt turned an offensive rebound into an old-fashioned three-point play, he drilled a three-pointer from the top of the arc, then jammed home another put-back bringing the Palmyra faithful to their feet.

Blatt, also an accomplished baseball player for Palmyra, possesses a unique skill set for hoops. An explosive first step, long arms, sharp shooting eye, tough handle and excellent court vision make him a force to be contended with on both sides of the court.

 

IMG_1780WEEK ENDING Feb. 13

As a player, sophomore Liz Voight has really come into her own this season. And as a member of the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team, Voight’s evolution has really helped the Vikings become the team they could be.

Through her shooting and relentless style of play, Voight has turned into a much needed third scoring option for Northern Lebanon. This week, Voight may have enjoyed the best three game stretch of her career, helping the Vikings reach their first ever Lancaster-Lebanon League championship game.

On Monday at home, Voight canned 13 points, as the Vikes nudged Manheim Township 47-41 in their L-L quarterfinal meeting. On Wednesday at Lebanon High School, Voight tallied another 13 points during Northern Lebanon’s 40-21 semifinal demolition of Lebanon Catholic.

Credit-UnionThen on Friday at Warwick High School, during the title tilt against Lancaster Catholic, the tenth-grade sniper tossed in eight points. For the week, Voight drained a total of five three-point field goals.

It should be interesting to follow Voight’s progression as Northern Lebanon attempts to make its mark in the upcoming District Three Class AAA postseason, and tries to qualify for the PIAA tournament.

 

IMG_2707WEEK ENDING Feb. 6

There was a time when Caleb Buchmoyer focused on his offense. Then, Buchmoyer became the Elco boys’ basketball team’s prime defensive stopper.

Now, Buchmoyer performs at an equally high level on both ends of the floor.

On Saturday evening at McCaskey High School, in the opening round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, Buchmoyer tallied 14 points in Elco’s 71-55 loss to the hometown Red Tornado. Certainly not the outcome Buchmoyer and the Raiders were looking for, but the reward may have been in them actually getting to this point of the season.

The 6-1 senior guard’s stellar play has helped produce one of the finest Elco boys’ basketball seasons in school history. The Raiders were making their first appearance in the L-L postseason in 13 years.

Credit-UnionCertainly Buchmoyer brings a lot to the Elco table.

On offense, Buchmoyer is a deadly shooter, a fearless driver of the basketball and a sound decision-maker. Defensively, he has the strength and quickness to match up with the other team’s top scoring threat, whether he be a guard or forward, and he is a stout rebounder as well.

Elco is seeded fifth in the upcoming District Three Class AAA playoffs, and Buchmoyer will be one of the keys to just how far the Raiders advance.

 

LeonardWEEK ENDING Jan. 30

Trevor Leonard didn’t win the 132-pound weight class at the Lancaster-Lebanon League wrestling championships. He dominated it.

Not unlike he and his Northern Lebanon mates did in the team portion of the event.

On Friday and Saturday at Garden Spot High School, Leonard logged three falls on his way to the 132-pound title. In his final bout, Leonard scored an early take-down then decked Gary Clark of Garden Spot at the 1:03 mark.

Leonard’s weekend performance upped his personal mark to 32-4.

His showing also contributed to the Vikings’ overwhelming team effort. Northern Lebanon piled up 237.5 team points to surpass runner-up Manheim Central by 55.5 points and become the first Lebanon County, Section Three and Class AA squad to ever win the L-L League team title.

Credit-UnionWith that in their back pockets, the Vikings have now set their sights on District Three Class AA and PIAA team glory. Leonard also has high aspirations for himself in the individual portion of the wrestling postseason, which gets underway in the middle of next month.

 

WEEK ENDING Jan. 23

MattVMatt Vines possesses a switch. It’s an off-and-on switch.

Vines has the ability to transform himself from a mild-mannered, humble young man into a fierce and relentless warrior.

It’s a switch that served him well during the fall season for the Northern Lebanon football team. It’s also a switch that can be quite effective in wrestling.

On Monday night at home, Vines patiently waited his turn to provide a helping hand in Northern Lebanon’s duel meet with rival Elco. And once he stepped on to the mat and got his chance, he contributed in a big way.

Vines’ first-period fall provided Northern Lebanon with six team points, as the Vikings jumped out to a 35-0 lead on the Raiders. Vines’ middle-weight and lower-weight teammates then proceeded to place the finishing touches on an impressive 64-9 victory.

Credit-UnionThe win clinched at least a tie for what could be Northern Lebanon’s fourth straight Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four championship – a title the Vikings sewed up later this week with a triumph over Columbia.

Northern Lebanon has high hopes for the rest of the 2015-16 campaign, both as a team and individually. And Vines is a big part of those plans.

 

WEEK ENDING Jan. 16

ArielIt’s a new spin on the old Catch-22 conundrum for Ariel Jones.

She wants to play a whole game. But she plays so well over the first three quarters that she often spends the fourth watching from the bench.

This week was another big one for Jones and the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team, as the Falcons went 3-0 and the junior guard poured in a total of 50 points. All in about nine quarters of playing time.

Jones’ biggest accomplishment of the week may have come on Thursday when she and the Falcons shaded rival Lebanon High 54-21. Jones tallied 14 points and controlled the flow of play, as Cedar Crest retained bragging rights for at least one more year.

Credit-UnionA night earlier in Elizabethtown, Jones went off for a trio of three-pointers and 22 points, as Cedar Crest drubbed the hometown Bears 62-42 in a different Lancaster-Lebanon Section One-Two crossover affair. But her week began on Monday against Garden Spot, when the Falcons posted a convincing 69-33 win behind 14 points from Jones.

With the week, Cedar Crest has now won seven straight contests to push its overall mark to 14-1. The Falcons remained perched atop the Section One standings, thanks in large part to the play of Jones.

 

WEEK ENDING Jan. 9

OrrBecoming a better basketball player was not among Andy Orr’s New Year resolutions. That’s because he doesn’t need to become better.

Orr, a 6-8 monster inside for the Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team, is this week’s Lebanon Sports Buzz’s Athlete of the Week. He was also named to D3hoops.com Men’s Basketball Team of the Week.

On Wednesday at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, Orr was all over the place, leading the Flying Dutchmen to an 82-74 victory over Stevenson. In the contest, Orr, a sophomore out of Conrad Weiser, logged 37 minutes, tallied 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting and eight-for-eight free throwing, hauled in nine boards and blocked five shots.

Credit-UnionThree days later, Orr helped Lebanon Valley to an 88-74 triumph at Wilkes, LVC’s fourth straight win. On Saturday, Orr registered 17 points on seven-for-13 shooting, knocked down a trey and grabbed eight caroms.

Orr is the reigning Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth rookie of the year and currently leads the circuit in scoring with a 20.2 points per game average. Orr also ranks third in the league in both rebounding and blocked shots.

But most importantly, it has been Orr’s play which has propelled the Flying Dutchmen to the top of the MAC Commonwealth Standings, with a 4-1 league mark and a 10-4 overall record.

 

NeeshaWEEK ENDING Jan. 2

Neesha Pierre was excluded from Lebanon Sports Buzz’s pre-season, All-Lebanon County girls’ basketball squad. Ever since, all she’s been doing is proving she was worthy of inclusion.

This week, Pierre showed she is one of the top female talents locally by capturing the MVP award at the Lebanon Booster Club’s annual Christmas tournament.

Lebanon Catholic’s rising star was a near unanimous selection, as she led the Beavers to a surprising championship in the four-team event, which featured three Class AAAA competitors. Pierre scored a total of 38 points, defended tenaciously and controlled the tempo with her dribble in the Beavers’ two victories.

Pierre tallied a game-high 20 points to lead Catholic to a 58-52 overtime triumph over Manheim Township in Tuesday’s title tilt. Six of the sophomore guard’s points came in OT, where the Beavers outscored the Blue Streaks 12-6, after regulation had ended in a 46-all draw.

A night earlier, Pierre poured in 18 points during Lebanon Catholic’s 51-45 defeat of host Lebanon High.

Credit-UnionNot unlike Pierre herself, Lebanon Catholic has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2015-16 season to date. With wins in five of their last six outings, the Beavers improved to 6-3 on the year.

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 26

YetterWhen Austin Yetter is hot, he knows it early. He can feel it. For Yetter, the basket takes on the size of a soccer goal.

And when Yetter gets hot he can carry a team.

On Tuesday night in Hershey, Yetter’s hot hand carried the Palmyra boys’ basketball team to a convincing 58-46 triumph over the hometown Trojans. Yetter drained a total of eight three-point field goals and poured in a game-high 28 points.

Yetter also had his hot hand in a late second-quarter 12-0 run, during which the Cougars created a bit of distance between themselves and Hershey. The senior sniper nailed a pair of ‘threes’ during the critical stretch and tallied a total of ten points, as the Cougars carried a 30-16 advantage to intermission.

Credit-UnionThe win pushed Palmyra to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. With Yetter leading the way, the Cougars have aspirations of competing for a Keystone Division crown and making noise in the upcoming District Three Class AAA tournament.

And when he’s hot, why not?

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 19

M.G.Molly Gundermann is some sort of ‘Big Shot’.

Not that Gundermann is better than anyone else, or that she thinks that way. It’s more of a reference to what she does on the floor, because she always seems to hit the big shot.

On Tuesday night at home, Gundermann hit the big shot in the Palmyra girls’ basketball team’s key 33-29 overtime victory over Mechanicsburg.

Gundermann’s clutch three-pointer from the top of the arc, with six seconds left in regulation, tied the game at 27 and forced ‘bonus basketball’. Once there, the senior forward dropped a ‘stop and pop’ and nailed  a charity toss, as the Cougars tallied the first three points on their way to outscoring the Wildcats 6-2 in the extra session.

Credit-UnionLoser’s of four straight, the thrilling triumph may have been just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Cougars. With the win, Palmyra improved to 2-4 on the year.

And somehow it was appropriate that it was Gundermann who did the damage. Gundermann is one of only a handful of remaining Cougars linked to Palmyra glory days – one of the most successful periods in the history of Lebanon County girls’ basketball.

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 12

ChandelleRole model. Steadying influence. Leader by example.

Chandelle Keller is those things and many more to the Elco girls’ basketball team. And how she performs her role will not only determine the Raiders’ fate this season, it will also have an influence on the Raiders’ program for years to come.

Keller’s influence on the Raiders was never more apparent than it was on Friday night on Assumption Hill. The senior forward showed the ways, as Elco scored a key 45-42 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover overtime victory at Lebanon Catholic.

Keller poured in a game-high 14 points and grabbed a handful of rebounds, but perhaps her most important contribution to the triumph was her heady play during crunch time.

Keller notched a critical hoop during a fourth quarter in which Elco completed its rally to force overtime. Then Keller notched the first basket in overtime to put the Raiders ahead to stay.

Credit-UnionDuring a stretch from the fourth quarter and into overtime, Elco tallied 11 unanswered points.

Keller is an athletic senior inside presence in a Raider starting lineup that features two freshmen and a sophomore.

Through Friday night’s road victory, Elco is off to a 2-0 start.

 

IMG_7080WEEK ENDING Dec. 5

With all the positive things going on with Lebanon County scholastic athletics these days, it’s sometimes difficult to decide on which student-athlete to honor. This week, there’s very little question.

Buzzer-beater. MVP. Championship.

Colton Lawrence.

On Saturday evening, Lawrence’s buzzer-beating three-pointer from the right wing gave the Elco boys’ basketball team a chilling and thrilling 61-60 triumph over Lebanon, and the championship of the Cedars’ tip-off tournament. After snaring the rebound of a missed free throw with five seconds left in the title tilt, the Raiders’ senior forward raced the length of the floor and unleashed a three-pointer that touched nothing but the bottom of the net.

Credit-Union

The three-pointer gave Lawrence 29 points for the evening, and all but cinched the tournament’s most valuable player trophy. A night earlier, during the Raiders’ dominating 78-33 season-opening victory over Muhlenberg, Lawrence poured in 22 points, in a variety of ways.

In light of Lawrence’s performances, the Raiders are off to a 2-0 start. Elco has high expectations for 2015-16, some of which include going further than teams in Raider boys’ basketball history have rarely gone before.

And clearly if the Raiders are going to reach those destinations, it will be Lawrence leading the way.

 

linebacker

WEEK ENDING Nov. 28

Mark Pyles is living proof that we reap what we sew. Work hard enough, and it can take us anywhere.

Not only has Pyles earned a starting position on the Bucknell University football team in less than two years on campus, hiis persistence and dedication have now produced an all-star nod.

Earlier this week, Pyles was honored as a Patriot League second-team, all-star selection at outside linebacker. The former Lebanon High linebacker and quarterback was one of 11 sophomores chosen to all-Patriot League teams.

During his sophomore season, Pyles led the Bison in tackles with 95 total, 53 solo and 42 assists. Seven-and-a-half of those tackles were for loss and two were sacks.

Through his commitment to the weight room, training and learning the Bucknell defensive play book, Pyles earned a starting job with the Bison during the off-season. During spring practice, Pyles earned Bucknell’s 2015 strength and conditioning MVP.

Credit-UnionA 2014 graduate of Lebanon High, Pyles led the Cedars to a District Three Class AAAA playoff appearance in his senior season. Pyles was also selected to represent Lebanon High in the 2014 Big 33 High School Football Classic in Hershey.

 

WEEK ENDING Nov. 21

IMG_6564She’s a scorer. And she’s a leading scorer. But most of all, Kiley Gallagher is a leader.

Gallagher is so adept at both skills that she led the Palmyra field hockey team all the way to the state championship game.

On Wednesday at Exeter Township High School, during the semifinals of the PIAA Class AAA postseason, Gallagher netted a pair of goals to lead the Cougars to a 3-0 triumph over Downingtown East.

Gallagher gave Palmyra a 1-0 lead with 12::21 left in the first half when, stationed at the doorstep, she converted a baseline feed from Lexi Smith. Gallagher also scored the goal that placed an exclamation point on the triumph, with 16:11 remaining, when she walked into the Downingtown East circle and unleashed a forehand blast that made it 3-0.

Credit-UnionBut Gallagher and Palmyra fell one win short of their dream of a state title three days later, as they were edged 1-0 in overtime by Emmaus. Stopping and containing Gallagher was obviously part of the Green Hornets’ game plan, as the Cougars were shut out for the first time all season.

The possessor of great hand-eye coordination, speed and a lethal shot, the senior forward is headed to Boston University on a Division One athletic grant-in-aid.

 

IMG_6058WEEK ENDING Nov. 14

You’ve undoubtedly heard it before. But it is so profound that it bears repeating.

Offense puts fans in the stands. But defense wins championships.

The Palmyra field hockey team is marching towards a fourth championship of the fall, and it is the defensive play of Carli Herman that is showing the way.

This week, the senior captain played a huge role in two important Cougar wins – both shutouts. Herman was the defensive catalyst, as Palmyra opened play in the state tournament with a 2-0 white washing of Owen J. Roberts on Tuesday, and then a 3-0 quarterfinal blanking of rival Lower Dauphin on Saturday afternoon.

The triumphs propelled Palmyra into the final four of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.

With Herman calling the shots and spearheading the effort, the Cougar defense barely allowed their opponents inside their circle, much less to attempt many shots on goal. Herman, who has committed to play field hockey at the next level, is a heady defender who relies on a long reach, toughness and superior stick skills.

Credit-UnionOn its way to District Three, Mid-Penn Conference and Keystone Division titles this fall, the Palmyra defense has surrendered less than a half-a-goal per game.

 

 

 

 

IMG_6189WEEK ENDING Nov. 7

How evenly matched were the two sides? So close that they were separated by one play, a single shot, one goal.

Either team was capable of making it. But Erin Huffman did, for the Palmyra Cougars.

On Saturday afternoon at Milton Hershey School’s Henry Hershey Field, Huffman’s goal produced a District Three Class AAA field hockey championship for Palmyra. Huffman’s goal with just over four minutes remaining was the difference, as the Cougars edged emerging rival Penn Manor 1-0 in the title tilt.

And it was a goal befitting the intensity and meaning of the contest.

The play originated from the Palmyra defensive backfield and in many ways was a counter-attack by the Cougars. Deftly stick-handling, Huffman carried the ball half the field, into the Comets side of the field and into the left portion of their circle.

Credit-UnionOnce there, Huffman unleashed a quick, precise reverse shot that ended up inside the right goalpost of Penn Manor’s cage.

Not only did Huffman’s tally exorcise some demons from two of Palmyra’s previous meetings with the Comets, it produced the Cougars’ tenth overall District Three championship.

 

ShueyWEEK ENDING Oct. 31

It was one of the top plays of the entire Lebanon County scholastic season. It was a play which helped define and shape the Elco girls’ soccer team’s fall.

What else would you expect from an MVP?

Just moments after being named the most valuable player in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, Ryelle Shuey showed why. Shuey’s goal with 1:26 remaining lifted the Raiders to a 3-2 victory over Schuylkill Haven, in Monday’s opening round match of the District Three Class AA postseason, contested at Elco Stadium.

But it was certainly no ordinary goal. From the middle of the pitch, 30 yards out, Shuey gathered a loose ball, and in one smooth motion turned and lofted a perfect chip that beat the Schuylkill Valley keeper high.

Credit-UnionThe tally completed a Raider rally from a 2-0 deficit, which they faced 16 minutes into the second half. The freshman forward had tied the score at two with 16:45 remaining on a perfectly place penalty kick and also assisted on teammate Jenna Oliviero’s goal that got Elco on the board.

With the result, Elco, the reigning Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three champion, moved to 15-4-1 overall and into the quarterfinal round of districts.

 

HarnishWEEK ENDING Oct. 24

It may just be that Jared Harnish is a late bloomer. But he has certainly come into his own as a senior.

In September, Harnish established himself as the top cross country runner in Lebanon County. This week at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championships, the Elco 12th-grader re-affirmed that fact.

On Tuesday afternoon at the annual league meet, contested on Ephrata Middle School’s 3.1-mile course, Harnish ran a very respectable seventh. He was Lebanon County’s top finisher by five spots.

Following a bit of a sluggish start, Harnish found his stride a mile into the race. He kept the leaders in sight the rest of the way, finishing with a time of 16:35.9, his personal best

Credit-UnionHarnish entered the competition as the reigning Lebanon County boy’s champion, thanks to a strong run at the local championships contested at South Hills Park earlier in the season. On that day, Harnish clocked a 17:18.34, despite not being pushed by Cedar Crest’s strongest contingent of runners.

Needless to say, Harnish is looking forward to the upcoming District Three championships, which will be run at Big Spring High School on Halloween.

 

WEEK ENDING Oct. 17

LightIt’s a correlation that is simply undeniable. The program’s all-time leading scorer playing a huge role in one of the program’s greatest wins ever.

Senior midfielder Matt Light was all over the pitch of Talon Field, on the campus of Cocalico High School, during the Annville-Cleona boys’ soccer team’s thrilling 2-1 upset win over Elizabethtown on Saturday afternoon. Passing, throwing, kicking, dribbling, probing, leading, thinking, reading.

Light’s free kick, 11:18 into the second half, helped create a 1-0 lead for the Little Dutchmen. From 25 yards away, Light located teammate Javier Gonzalez stationed on the left post of the Bear goal, and his perfect service found Gonzalez, and Gonzalez found the back of the net.

Credit-UnionLight has well over 20 goals this season, and last season became Annville-Cleona’s all-time leading goal scorer. On Friday nights, Light doubles as the Little Dutchmen football team’s place kicker, and is one of the top performers in the Lancaster-Lebanon League at that position as well.

Light has designs on playing soccer in college, perhaps at the Division Two level.

WEEK ENDING Oct. 10

IMG_3747Tim Bomberger has the perfect demeanor for golf. Not too serious. An ability to turn business-like when it’s called for. And the resolve to never get down on himself.

On Tuesday at the par-72, 6,361-yard Lebanon Country Club, Bomberger’s personality served him well.

The Cedar Crest senior was the medalist at the annual Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championship, and in the process led the Falcons to the team title. Bomberger carded a six-over par 78 over LCC’s testy test and it helped Cedar Crest to an accumulative score of 244, which was ten strokes lower than runner-up Palmyra.

It was the third County team championship in-a-row for Cedar Crest, and Bomberger has been a part of all three.

Credit-UnionAfter going one-over par through his first six holes, Bomberger’s round could’ve gone south after he suffered a double bogey that led to a five-over par total over a four-hole span. But Bomberger righted his ship and went even par over his final eight holes to win it.

Bomberger was buoyed by a birdie at the 398-yard, par-four fourth hole. He also birdied the country club’s 152-yard, par-three 14th.

 

 

IMG_3294WEEK ENDING Oct. 3

Andrew Olson had a great game for the Elco football team, perhaps his best as a Raider. But in dramatic fashion, he saved his very best for last.

On Thursday night at Annville-Cleona High School, Olson caught the game-winning touchdown strike from quarterback Jeff Martin to left the Elco football team to a key and thrilling 40-39 overtime victory over the Little Dutchmen. Olson’s catch came on the last play of overtime – on a fourth down and goal from the 14-yard line – after Annville-Cleona had gone ahead with a score on the first possession of the extra session.

Lining up on the right side of the gridiron, Olson worked the middle of the field, cut sharply to cause separation between himself and his defender and then curled back to the right pylon of the end zone. When he turned, Olson saw a zipping Martin aerial headed towards him, which he grabbed before cradling it to his body and making sure his feet were in-bounds.

Credit-UnionNearly as dramatic was the short flip from Martin which Olson turned into a 58-yard touchdown play. That tied the score at 33 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter and forced overtime.

Olson concluded his evening with nine catches and 150 yards.

 

 

 

WeaverWEEK ENDING Sept. 26

Dylan Weaver is the new kid on the block in Fredericksburg. But it hasn’t taken him long to fit in.

Scoring touchdowns has a way of endearing you to teammates.

Weaver’s speed, moves and game-breaking ability have given the Northern Lebanon football team a whole different dimension, and have made an already potent Viking team even more dangerous. On Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, Weaver’s skills were on full display.

Weaver tallied three touchdowns to help the Vikings to a 57-26 victory over Ephrata, in both teams’ Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three opener. Weaver, a flashy junior transfer from Central Dauphin, had his hands – and legs – in the middle of a four-touchdown explosion late in the first half that broke the game open and ultimately signaled the mercy rule.

Credit-UnionFirst, Weaver toted the pigskin 60 yards to pay dirt to give the Vikings a 20-7 lead. Then, Weaver returned a punt 62 yards to the promised land to push Northern Lebanon’s advantage to 35-7.

Weaver rounded out his evening by scampering three yards for the touchdown that made it 50-14 Northern Lebanon.

The result made the defending Section Three champion Vikings 4-0 on the year.

 

 

IMG_2058WEEK ENDING Sept. 19

Katie Fields likes scoring goals, and she loves winning. And if the goals Fields scores produces wins, well so much the better.

And if she ties a record along the way, she may even get brownies.

On Tuesday afternoon in Fredericksburg, Fields tied a program record, as the Elco field hockey team trounced Northern Lebanon 6-2. Fields poured in four goals to match the previous Raider record established by Nikki Gerhart in 2004.

Fields tallied her first two goals 57 seconds apart in the middle of the first half, to give Elco a 3-0 lead. She picked up her third goal just before the break, then concluded her prolific afternoon early in the second half.

If there was a common theme to Fields’ goals, it was that she displayed a nose for the ball on all of them. While certainly the possessor of advanced stick skills, Fields’ goals were more a result of desire than talent.

Credit-UnionBut perhaps most importantly, Fields’ four goals helped Elco register its initial win of the campaign. The result leveled the Raiders’ Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three mark to 1-1, and upped their seasonal record to 1-2-1.

 

AlonWEEK ENDING Sept. 12

Alon Rhette is one half of a lethal one-two running combination. This week, close friend and teammate Carl Reigle was a jab, and Rhette was the right, overhead, hay-maker.

On Friday night at Buck Swank Stadium, Rhette’s running and all-around play helped the Palmyra football team to a 30-22 victory over Lebanon County rival Elco. Rhette, a junior speedster, rushed 15 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

With the Cougars protecting a 10-7 edge early late in the opening stanza, Rhette ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run through the teeth of the Elco defense, to extend Palmyra’s lead to nine points. Then early in the second quarter, Rhette’s 68-yard jaunt to ‘The House’ pushed the Cougars’ advantage to 23-7.

Credit-UnionThe Raiders never fully recovered.

For his part, Reigle added 92 yards on 22 totes of the pigskin, as the Cougars, at times, established movement up front.

A tireless worker and a prime-time performer, Rhette also starred on the other side of the ball for Palmyra.

Palmyra’s win over the Raiders upped their early season record to 2-0.

 

 

BellemanWEEK ENDING Sept. 5

It was a double dose of kudos, all around.

Junior Justice Belleman was enjoying his just desserts for being named the Most Valuable Player at the 44th annual Cedar Bowl. But while he was, he was paying tribute and credit to his offensive line.

Belleman and the offensive line were clearly the difference on Friday night at Earl Boltz Stadium. With the lethal combination controlling the line of scrimmage and the tempo of the game, Cedar Crest dominated and overwhelmed rival Lebanon High 41-7.

In just under three quarters of action, Belleman rushed 13 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. During the entire game, Cedar Crest ran the ball 41 times and passed it four times.

Credit-UnionOn its first possession of the year, the Falcons marched  53 yards in seven plays to get a five-yard Belleman scoring jaunt and a 6-0 lead. Then less than six minutes later, Cedar Crest turned a Lebanon turnover into the 21-yard Belleman touchdown run that upped its advantage to 19-0.

The triumph represented Cedar Crest’s fourth straight win over Lebanon High, and 28th overall in a series that dates back to 1972.

 

photo 3

WEEK ENDING August 29

Logan Fullmer has been a winner at every level  on which he has competed. Recently Fullmer became a winner and a champion.

Fullmer, a graduate of Cedar Crest, was the winning pitcher for Worcester as the Bravehearts claimed the championship of the Futures College Baseball League in New England. Fullmer hurled the Bravehearts to a 6-4 triumph over the Bristol Blues, in the championship game at Muzzy Field.

It was actually Zack Tower who made Fullmer the winning pitcher, with his two-run triple in the top of the tenth inning that broke a four-all tie. Fullmer got the victory with three innings of relief, during which he struck out four.

Credit-UnionThe Bravehearts’ Futures College Baseball League championship was their second in-a-row. During its latest run, Worcester went 4-1 in the FCBL’s playoff format.

In the regular season, Fullmer, a pitcher for the Maine University baseball team during the school year, compiled a 1.33 ERA over 33 innings in 21 games. A right-hander, the hard-throwing former Falcon struck out 44 and was credited with three saves.

 

DaveWEEK ENDING August 22

Local amateur golf events don’t post leader boards, so competitors are never quite sure where they stand in relation to one another. Players never know if they have ground to make up, or if they’re actually leading.

On Friday at the 28th annual Lebanon County Senior Amateur tournament, contested on Royal Oaks’ 6,153-yard, par-71 layout, 53-year-old Dave Brown thought he had lost the championship when he missed a five-foot birdie putt on the par-four 17th. But in reality, Brown had won it a few earlier with a string of three birdies in-a-row.

Brown’s birdies on Royal Oaks’ 12th, 13th and 14th holes proved to the difference, as he fired an even-par 71 to score a one-shot victory over defending champ Kerry Wentling, former champion Bill Massar, Jr. and playing partner Greg Adams. It was Brown’s first individual triumph in his competitive golfing career.

Credit-UnionBrown rolled in a four-foot bird on the 393-yard, par-four 12th green. He tapped in for birdie at the par-five 13th hole, after missing a 15-foot eagle putt. And Brown drilled a 20-foot birdie roll at the 405-yard, par-four 14th.

Instantly, Brown went from two-over par to one-under par. He finished his round as the only competitor in the 40-player field who wasn’t over par.

 

 

KyleWEEK ENDING August 15

Sometimes months elapse between the times Kyle Martel gets to do the thing he loves. While he’s waiting, Martel practices patience.

One might think that when Martel, an aspiring stock car-racer, gets behind the wheel that his first inclination is to put the pedal to the metal and go as fast as he possibly can. But in reality, quite the opposite is true.

During the recent running of the sixth annual Pocono Mountains 150, an event in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, on Pocono International Raceway’s 2.5-mile tricky triangle, patience once again proved to be a virtue for Martel. A Lebanon native and a Cedar Crest graduate, Martel finished a respectable 19th in the 60-lap race.

Credit-UnionWhat was most impressive about Martel’s run was the fact that he did it from the final starting position. By running hard and running smart, Martel avoided numerous incidents and cautions to improve his finishing position by 13 spots.

Martel’s cautious approach had him running 20th by the 40th lap of the race. He ran 19th for most of the event’s final 20 laps.

WEEK ENDING August 8

JackThere is certainly something to be said for youth being served on the local tennis scene. The younger you are, the brighter your future.

Fourteen-year-old Jack Muraika became Lebanon Sports Buzz’s youngest ‘Athlete of the Week’ recently when he finished as the runner-up at the 48th annual Mount Gretna Tennis Club’s open tournament. Muraika fell to 23-year-old and former college player Mike Lesko 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 in the event’s championship match.

But the title tilt may have been closer than the final score appeared.

With Muraika more than holding his own from the baseline, the freshman-to-be at Cedar Crest High School claimed four of the match’s first five games. But it was around that point Lesko took control of the play, using the first-set tiebreaker to claim the match’s momentum for good.

Credit-UnionYet Muraika’s greatest accomplishment might have been getting to the championship match at all. He defeated a number of older, more seasoned and higher-seeded players along the way.

Certainly Muraika’s showing in Mount Gretna bodes well for his upcoming years as a Falcon, and should serve as a source of experience from which to draw upon.

 

WEEK ENDING August 1

NoahBecause Noah Firestone, a native of Annville, attended high school outside of Lebanon County – at Mount Calvary Christian Academy, specifically – in many ways he flew under local golf’s radar. So, the 70th annual W.B. Sullivan Better-ball-of-Partners tournament could be considered Firestone’s coming out party.

On Sunday at the Lebanon Country Club’s 6,562-yard, par-72 layout, Firestone and teammate Brady Goodling earned a runner-up finish at central Pennsylvania’s most prestigious team event. With darkness descending on LCC, Firestone and Goodling were edged by Chad Stine and Drew Patterson on the 23rd hole of the championship flight’s final match.

And it was that close to being a title for Firestone and Goodling. It was Stine’s two-foot birdie putt on the fifth extra hole that gave his side the crown.

But Firestone played steadily throughout the three-day tournament.

Credit-UnionEarlier in the championship match, Firestone had given his team the lead with a two-foot birdie at the par-four 13th hole. A day earlier, Firestone had drained a dramatic 35-foot birdie putt on LCC’s par-four 18th hole to send he and Goodling to a one-up victory over Alex Church and Jeff Castle and into the tournament’s semifinal round.

Firestone has committed to take his considerable golf talents to Monmouth College in New York, where he will be a freshman this fall.

 

WEEK ENDING July 25

BrettMidway through the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League’s season, Myerstown manager Johnny Mentzer advised all of his batters to take less pitches and to be more aggressive early in the count. Brett Baweic took the advice to heart, and because he did, he became one of the summer circuit’s most dangerous, consistent and productive hitters.

B. Baweic was certainly one of Myerstown’s bright spots, as the Lebanon County champions went 1-2 at the recent eight-team, double-elimination Region Four tournament, contested at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field.

On a hot and sticky Monday afternoon, during a summer-ending 9-1 loss to Linglestown, B. Bawiec collected three more hits. The day prior, B. Bawiec had also gone three-for-four and finished with a team-leading seven hits in the tournament, including an RBI-single in Myerstown’s opening-round 1-0 triumph over Pleasuresville.

Credit-UnionMyerstown had gone 6-1 in the Lebanon County American Legion postseason to claim the locale’s spot in the region legional. And B. Bawiec was one of the biggest reasons why.

B. Bawiec had been on fire since the calendar turned to July, and his hot hitting continued through the postseason. Ever since he began looking for fastballs early in his at-bats.

 

WEEK ENDING July 18

AwardKyle Bogdanovich may or may not be the best hitter in the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league. What makes that a matter of conjecture is the fact that the local summer circuit is home to some pretty good batters.

But Bogdanovich was the best hitter in the county legion league when it mattered the most – during the postseason. He’s got the trophy to prove that.

On Wednesday night at Palmyra High School, K-Bog’s bat was the big stick in Myerstown’s championship-clinching 4-2 triumph over Campbelltown, in the final game of the Lebanon County American Legion League’s double-elimination playoffs. After the hostilities had been settled, K. Bogdanovich was recognized as the postseason’s top batter, with the Jack Bicher Outstanding Hitter award.

With Myerstown trailing Campbelltown 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning and in desperate need of a spark, K. Bogdanovich provided one. His two-run single in the frame knotted the score.

Credit-UnionThen during Myerstown’s winning seventh-inning rally, K. Bogdanovich kept things going with a single that helped set up teammate Cody Horst’s decisive safety.

One of Myerstown’s quiet emotional leaders, K. Bogdanovich, who also played a huge role in M-town’s local title last season, has seemingly been on fire at the plate since the county legion league’s postseason got underway.

 

WEEK ENDING July 11

WhitmanIt took Ian Whitman most of the summer to round into his old pitching self. But now that he has, he has the look of a hurler who could lead a club to a championship.

On Saturday night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field in Fredericksburg, Whitman looked like – well, like Whitman – in pitching Post 915 to a 2-1, nine-inning triumph over Annville, in F-burg’s opener of the double-elimination Lebanon County American Legion baseball league’s postseason. Whitman had a job to do, and didn’t mind if he had to work a little overtime to get it done.

Whitman needed all of 120 pitches to go all nine innings, finish what he started and pick up the win. Battery-mate and catcher Chase Dubendorf made a winner out of Whitman with his two-out hit to right field in the bottom of the second extra frame.

Whitman, who has been eased back into the Fredericksburg rotation after not pitching in the spring, fanned eight and walked one. The stocky right-hander surrendered only four Annville hits.

Credit-UnionThe win was regular-season champion Fredericksburg’s tenth straight overall and lifted it to 14-2 on the summer. It also set up a showdown with Campbelltown in the undefeated game of the Lebanon County American Legion League’s playoff format.

 

 

 

WyattWEEK ENDING July 4

When Wyatt Beakler is ‘on’, he’s a dominating, difficult-to-hit, tough-to-figure-out southpaw starting pitcher. And when he’s ‘on’, he makes the Fredericksburg pitching staff the most talented and deep pitching staff in the entire Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League.

Beakler has been ‘on’ most of this summer. And so has Post 915.

On Tuesday at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Beakler was certainly ‘on’, and because he was, most of Myerstown’s hitters were ‘off balance’.

Beakler shut down Myerstown 2-1 in the opener of a doubleheader. He picked up the pitching victory, by scattering five hits and finishing what he started.

Beakler surrendered a first-inning run to the visitors, but nothing the rest of the way. The lanky left-hander fanned seven during the outing and issued a pair of free passes.

Credit-UnionThe victory was Fredericksburg’s fifth straight and second of the week. And by the time the week had ended, Post 915 had eight straight wins, a 12-2 record and a firm handle on the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League’s regular-season championship.

Beakler heads a pitching staff that also includes Jordan Nichols, Ian Whitman, Zane Merkel and Brett Minnich.

 

JimmyWEEK ENDING June 27

Jimmy Gardner is a family man and a father. But on this Father’s Day, any gift would’ve been hard-pressed to match the prize that Gardner earned at the 57th annual Lebanon County Amateur golf tournament.

On Sunday afternoon at Lebanon Valley Golf Course’s 6,136-yard, par-71 layout, Gardner earned the championship of local amateur golf with a second-round 69 and a 141 total, or one-under par. Gardner finished three strokes ahead of co-runners-up, Andy Gibbons and Tony Deraco.

But Gardner couldn’t have garnered his crown without a little bit of help from first-round leader John DiGiacomo. Gardner entered Father’s Day’s final round six shots behind DiGiacomo, who scuffled to an eight-over par 79 and a fourth-place showing.

Credit-UnionGardner’s decisive round was comprised of five birdies, three bogeys and ten pars. The title was also a nice complement to the 2006 Lebanon County Amateur championship Gardner won at Blue Mountain.

But the icing on the cake for Gardner was the fact that he was serving as the County Amateur’s tournament director for the final time. Justin Arnt will be taking over the position that Gardner had held for more than the last decade.

 

ConorWEEK Ending June 20

Connor Bawiec was the best player in the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League last season. And he’s back this season.

So does that mean Bawiec is the best player in the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League this summer? We’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Using his arm and bat, Bawiec helped Myerstown to a 3-1 week. After dropping a 5-0 decision to Fredericksburg on Sunday, Bawiec helped the reigning league champions to consecutive wins over Fifth Ward, Richland and Richland again.

In Friday’s 9-0 win at Richland’s Lyle Krall Field, Bawiec collected three hits – a double and two singles. On Tuesday, during a 3-2 11-inning shading of Fifth Ward, Bawiec pitched well over the first ten innings, striking out ten and refusing to issue a free pass, but did not figure in the decision.

Credit-UnionMyerstown’s big week left it 4-3 in the local summer baseball circuit.

Bawiec, a 2014 graduate of Cedar Crest, was the driving force behind Myerstown winning last season’s league championship. During this past school year, Bawiec toiled for the Elmira College baseball team in New York.

 

 

 

IMG_4800WEEK Ending June 13

It has become apparent during the early going of the wooden bat Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League, that pitching and defense will rule and runs will be at a premium. But Trevor Gill took the those trends one step further.

On Tuesday evening at Palmyra High School, Gill, a hard throwing right-hander, twirled a one-hit complete game to lead Campbelltown to a 5-1 victory over Richland. Gill was on top of his game from his initial delivery, but remained just as strong as the game wore on.

Gill fanned seven and surrendered four bases-on-balls. But he didn’t walk a batter after the third inning and he set down the final 14 Richland batters he encountered.

But perhaps the most impressive part of Gill’s outing was the fact that he threw only two breaking balls during his seven innings of work. He was hitting his spots, and so dominant with his heater, that Richland batters were having a hard time catching up to him.

The only Richland hitter to get to Gill was lead-off man Wes Wentling, via a third-inning single. Wentling’s hit ultimately led to Richland’s only run, but thanks to a Campbelltown error it turned out to be of the unearned variety.

Credit-UnionWith Gill’s triumph, Campbelltown improved to 2-0 in the early going of the league.

 

 

 

 

 

JUWEEK Ending June 6

There exists a baseball instructional guide on how to make oneself a winning pitcher. Justin Ulrich didn’t write the book, but he did guest author a chapter.

Late in a game, get inserted as a relief pitcher. Do your job and then when the game is on the line, simply get a hit.

To put his on particular spin on the scenario, Ulrich just turned an ‘e’ to an ‘o’. He didn’t get a hit, he got hit.

While it may not be as glamorous, Ulrich getting hit by a pitch was the key moment in the Annville American Legion baseball team’s 4-3 opening-night victory over Fredericksburg on Friday night. Part of Annville’s three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, Ulrich ‘took one for the team’ with the bases loaded and nobody out to force in the tying run.

An at-bat later, Annville’s stirring comeback was completed when Fredericksburg was guilty of a throwing error. The rally also made Ulrich the winning pitcher.

Credit-UnionThe lanky right-hander had come on in relief of Alec Barr and Jordan Gohn in the top of the seventh inning, for his initial work of the season. In his lone inning of work, Ulrich did not allow a run, struck out one and walked one.

 

 

 

 

BahneyWEEK Ending May 30

For the first time in history, two students – Adam Bahney and Galen McNaughton – are sharing Lebanon Sports Buzz’s Athlete of the Week honor.

And for good reason. That’s because Bahney and McNaughton made a little history of their own.

McNaughtonRecently at Hershey’s Racquet Club, the Elco seniors captured a rare state championship by besting Holy Ghost Prep’s Mark Pabalan and Brandon Fritze 6-3, 6-1 in the PIAA Class AA championship final.  Never trailing at any point in the championship match, Bahney and McNaughton broke Pablan-Fritze’s serve in the eighth game of the first set, then used three more service breaks in the second set to claim the title going away.

Earlier in the day, Bahney and McNaughton had posted a hard-earned 7-6, 6-3 semifinal triumph over sophomores John Yurconic and Mason Groff, of Salisbury. In that match, the Raiders rallied twice from seemingly insurmountable deficits to reach the championship test.

Credit-UnionThe state championship capped a spectacular undefeated postseason run by Bahney and McNaughton. The Elco duo had also claimed the District Three Class AA doubles championship, as well as the Lancaster-Lebanon League title.

McNaughton and Bahney closed out their careers with an impressive 52-4 record as doubles’ partners.

 

 

 

IMG_4284WEEK Ending May 23

Erin Winters made a career out of setting the bar higher and then eclipsing it. And by so doing, she ascended to heights that no one from Lebanon County had ever reached before.

On Saturday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University, Winters capped the most successful female vaulting career in the history of Lebanon County. The Lebanon High senior finished fifth in the Class AAA pole vaulting event.

Winters cleared the second-highest height in the competition – 12-0 – but was awarded fifth because of more misses. The gold medal went to Bishop McDevitt’s Tesia Kempski, who went 12-9.

Winters’ hardware capped a marvelous senior campaign. A week earlier, Winters had gone 12-4 to finish second at the District Three meet.

At the Lancaster-Lebanon League Track and Field Championships at Hempfield High School, Winters had topped the pole vault competition with a 12-6. Winters was also crowned the female pole vault champion at the Lebanon County meet.

Credit-UnionA one-time multi-sport star, Winters will concentrate on the pole vault when she attends George Mason University in the fall.

 

 

 

FoxWEEK Ending May 16

A quarterback in the fall, Adam Fox has a cannon for a right arm. It is an arm that translates well to track and field, and the javelin throw.

Fox is also driven, focused and motivated. It is a competitive spirit that translates well into any athletic endeavor he chooses to pursue.

On Friday afternoon at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the opening day of the District Three Track and Field Championships, his strong right arm and strong will to win served Fox well. The Annville-Cleona junior out distanced the competition to capture the Class AA gold medal.

Credit-UnionFox entered the competition seeded second behind defending champion Matt Reinhart of Berks Catholic. But on his second attempt after reaching the finals, Fox unleashed a 173-7, which was three feet farther than Reinhart, who finished as the runner-up.

Later in the day, Fox finished sixth in the Class AA shot put event. Fox’s medals were half of the four taken home by Little Dutchmen from the first day of the District Three meet.

Fox has been heaving the javelin for three years now, and under the right circumstances in the future would consider pursuing the discipline on the college level.

 

Lebanon County Track and Field 062WEEK ENDING May 9

Some scholastic student-athletes realize their middle-school potential. And some done.

And for others, it just takes a little more time.

It would appear that Lebanon sophomore middle-distance runner Derin Klick is currently coming into his own, in his own time.

On Saturday afternoon at Hempfield High School, during the Lancaster-Lebanon Track and Field Championships, Klick ran a great race in the 800-meter final. Klick was clocked in a winning time of 1:57.41 to edge a contingent of four other Lebanon County runners, including Cedar Crest sophomore Jesse Cruise, by .73 of a second.

Credit-UnionKlick went out strong and battled Cedar Crest senior Jared Glosser for the early lead. Klick was momentarily passed by Cruise, with about 100 meters remaining in the race, but had enough left in his tank to out kick him to the finish line.

For Klick, a junior-high star runner, it was his most impressive performance at a big scholastic track and field meet to date. The Cedar tenth-grader will look to keep it going next weekend at the District Three Class AAA championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

 

WemgertWEEK ENDING May 2

It may be the ultimate sign of respect in sports. Refusing to allow an athlete to compete against you because you fear he or she has the power to single-handedly beat you.

It was that kind of week for Isaac Wengert.

During Wednesday’s 8-7 home loss to Manheim Central, Wengert was shown that type of respect, as the Barons intentionally walked him, not once, but two times. When Central had pitched to Wengert earlier in the contest, the Northern Lebanon center-fielder had gone deep twice, as part of a three-for-three performance that featured four RBIs and three runs scored.

Credit-UnionBut Wengert’s week was far  from over. Then on Friday in Fredericksburg, Wengert strutted his stuff in front of rival Cedar Crest.

Wengert was the winning pitcher in a 7-2 defeat of the Falcons, going the distance on a five-hitter, while fanning five and issuing one free pass. At the dish against Crest, Wengert also contributed two hits – one of which was a double – and three RBIs.

The Vikings’ win over Cedar Crest kept their hopes of qualifying for the District Three Class AAA postseason alive.

 

IMG_2590WEEK ENDING April 25

It is truly debatable as to which carries more prestige Lebanon Sports Buzz’s Athlete of the Week honor or the Lebanon County Track and Field Championship’s Outstanding Male Athlete award. Well, there’s really no sense arguing with Jeronimo Rodriguez.

On Saturday at Lebanon High School, Rodriguez copped his second consecutive Outstanding Athlete at the county meet with a record-setting performance. The Cedars’ senior sprinter simply had speed to burn.

Rodriguez established a new Lebanon County record in the 400-meter dash, clocking a 49.0 to best Northern Lebanon’s Joe Vedilago’s 2012 mark by 0.3 of a second. Rodriguez also struck gold with a strong performance in the 200-meter dash.

Credit-UnionIn addition, Rodriguez finished third in the long jump. He also ran an extremely fast split while anchoring Lebanon High’s 1600-meter relay team to a third-place showing.

Now it’s on to the bigger meets – the Lancaster-Lebanon League, District Three Championships and possibly the PIAA Track and Field meet – for Rodriguez, where the competition becomes increasingly challenging. Should Rodriguez stay true to himself and run his own races, he will get where he needs to go.

 

 

IMG_1843WEEK ENDING April 18

He was supposed to be a fill-in, an innings eater. But the way Mitch Long had it figured, if he was going to take the mound, he might as well pitch his heart out.

This week, the Annville-Cleona baseball team won two games. And Long was the Little Dutchmen’s winning pitcher in each win..

On Friday afternoon at Lyle Krall Field in Myerstown, Long pitched Annville-Cleona to a 12-0 five-inning, mercy-rule triumph over Elco. The sophomore southpaw was certainly on top of his game, limiting the Raiders’ potent attack to three hits, striking out two and walking one.

On Tuesday afternoon at home, Long had pitched five solid innings to earn the win in a 10-8 victory over Lebanon High. Long fanned seven Cedars and walked four.

Credit-UnionBut not only does Long know what to do with a ball in his hand, he also knows what to do when he steps into the batter’s box. In four games this week, Long slashed at a .357 clip, scored seven runs and drove in six other runs, with a double and a triple.

It was those types of performances which has the Little Dutchmen competing for a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four crown and a District Three Class AA playoff berth.

 

WEEK ENDING April 11

ShaakIt was a four-game week for the Elco softball team. And even better, a three-win week for the Raiders.

It was also a good week for Claire Shaak.  Shaak was the winning pitcher in each of the Raiders’ three victories.

On Monday behind Shaak, Elco knocked off Cocalico. On Wednesday, Shaak’s Raiders ten-runned Lebanon High. And on Friday, Shaak blanked Lancaster Catholic in five innings.

For the week, the senior right-hander whiffed 30 opposing batters, including a ten-strikeout performance against the Crusaders. But that wasn’t all for Shaak.

Credit-UnionShe also shone at the plate, particularly against Lebanon. Shaak, who hits in the middle of the Elco order, collected three hits in four trips to the plate against the Cedars, drove in five runs and scored three times.

Elco’s three-win week pushed its overall mark to 4-3, the sames as its Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three record. With Shaak leading from the mound and in the batter’s box, the Raiders figure to be in the thick of the section race all spring long and make a bid for a District Three Class AAA playoff spot.

 

 

NicholsWEEK ENDING April 4

The spring weather has been uncooperative as usual, but despite the conditions, the Northern Lebanon baseball team is off to a hot, fast start. And Jordan Nichols has been in the middle of everything good for the Vikings.

On Monday afternoon in Fredericksburg, Nichols pitched the Vikings to an 11-6 victory over Lebanon. The senior southpaw was on top of his game, fanning a dozen Cedars and walking a pair while picking up the pitching victory.

Nichols had carried a no-hitter and a 4-1 lead into the top of the fifth inning, a lead the Vikings would never relinquish.

Then on Wednesday in Fredericksburg, Nichols contributed a double to Northern Lebanon’s 4-3 triumph over Cocalico. That victory kept the Vikings’ early season record unblemished at 3-0.

Northern Lebanon did suffer its first loss of the spring on Friday at Manheim Central, an 8-2 setback to the Barons. But the Vikings have established themselves as a contender in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, as well as a contender for a District Three Class AAA playoff berth.

Credit-UnionAnd Nichols has established himself as a key contributor to Northern Lebanon’s success.

 

 

 

 

RichWEEK ENDING March 28

It’s nice to see that Alex Rich is doing OK.

How do we know that Rich is feeling better? Well, four goals and three assists is a pretty good indication.

On Monday evening at Ed and Jeannie Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium, Rich figured in more than 40 percent of her team’s scoring as the Cedar Crest girls’ lacrosse team hammered county rival Palmyra 17-4 in the spring season opener for both squads. It was also Rich’s domination of mid-field draws off of stoppages that helped the Falcons to an insurmountable 12-0 halftime lead.

Rich had missed a good bit of the final portion of the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team’s run to the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA postseason with concussion-like symptoms. During the regular season, Rich’s staunch defense, role playing and leadership helped the Falcons to a Lancaster-Lebanon League championship.

Credit-UnionBut Rich is even more at home on the lacrosse field. The athletic senior midfielder has committed to take her lacrosse talents to Division One Louisville.

 

 

WEEK ENDING March 21

IMG_0901Like Final Fours? Who doesn’t?

We can certainly classify Katie Dembrowski into that group that does. But what sets Dembrowski apart is the fact that she knows how to get to them.

This week, Dembrowski competed in her second state final four in four months. There’s not many student-athletes in the history of Lebanon County sports who can say they’ve played in two in their careers.

On Tuesday night at Reading High’s Geigle Complex, the basketball portion of the Palmyra senior point guard’s career came to an end in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals, with the Cougars’ 61-55 loss to Central Bucks West. Dembrowwski was her usual steady self, handling the ball strongly, finding teammates in good spots, hitting open shots and competing fiercely on defense.

Credit-UnionBack in Novemember, it was Katie D.’s play which had helped the Palmyra field hockey team share a controversial Class AAA state championship with Penn Manor. With Dembrowski leading the way, the Cougars’ PIAA postseason run ended with a one-all tie in the Class AAA championship game.

Next up for Dembrowski is a track and field swan song in the spring, before she heads off to Penn State play Division One field hockey.

 

WEEK ENDING March 14

McClellanSo, exactly when did Katy McClellan become such a proficient three-point shooter?

Actually, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that McClellan has expanded her game. She’s so good at everything else she does on the basketball floor, why should three-point shooting be any different?

This week, McCellan continued to shoot the trey very efficiently. And she and the Palmyra girls’ basketball team continued their run deep run into the PIAA playoffs in their first venture in Class AAAA.

On Friday at Garden Spot High School, McClellan drained a pair of treys as part of her 12 points, and the Cougars pulled away from Cardinal O’Hara 54-42, in the quarterfinal round of the Class AAAA state postseason. Three nights earlier at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, in the second round of the PIAA tournament, the senior forward counted a ‘three’ among her team-high 18 points, as Palmyra routed Mount Saint Joseph 57-38.

Credit-UnionWith deft rebounding skills, a tenacious defensive approach and the ability to take her defender off the dribble, McClellan’s versatility has been a key part of the Cougars’ success this season. And now McClellan counts three-point shooting among her arsenal.

Upon her graduation from Palmyra, McClellan plans to continue her academic and athletic careers at Division Three Smith College in Massachusetts.

 

 

JonesWEEK ENDING March 7

They don’t give out an award for Lebanon County’s most improved girls’ basketball player. But perhaps they should.

How about being named Lebanon Sports Buzz’s Athletes of the Week?

No one locally has made greater improvements over the last three months than Ariel Jones. Cedar Crest’s sophomore guard has gone from a player fighting for playing time to being one of the most integral parts of her team.

On Saturday afternoon at Harriton High School in Rosemont, Jones helped lead the Falcons to a 53-44 upset of Downingtown East, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament. Jones went four-for-for at the foul stripe, drained a three-pointer and pumped in 15 points to tie senior teammate Rachel Miller for team-high scoring honors.

Credit-UnionThe state playoff win was the reigning Lancaster-Lebanon League champion’s first in a number of seasons.

As the season has progressed, Jones’ confidence has grown by leaps and bounds, right along with her production. A heady driver of the basketball, a good decision-maker and a fierce defender, Jones worked her way into the Falcons’ starting lineup at the midway point of the season, and has done nothing but grow ever since.

 

 

EvanWEEK ENDING Feb. 28

Evan Horn is a difference maker who practices deference.

Sometimes, merely out of respect Horn will defer to his older Cedar Crest boys’ basketball teammates. He only asserts himself when his squad needs him the most.

On Saturday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, Horn was up front and present during the Falcons’ time of need. With Cedar Crest short-handed in the District Three Class AAAA championship game against York High, the junior guard stepped up with a trio of three-point field goals, 21 points, a boat load of rebounds and a handful of assists.

Despite perhaps his greatest effort of the season, Horn’s Falcons fell to the Bearcats for a second season. On Wednesday at Giant Center, Horn had scored 11 points to help Cedar Crest to a 58-49 semifinal triumph over Reading.

Credit-UnionHorn’s inspired continues to make him one of the top performers in all of District Three.

The Falcons will carry a 26-3 overall mark into next week’s PIAA Class AAAA tournament.

 

 

 

SmolukWEEK ENDING Feb. 21

Work hard within the team structure. Put teammates ahead of yourself. Play your role. Or more succinctly: be a good team player.

If you do, and to it long enough, good things – including individual accolades – will come your way.

That pretty much sums up Kristen Smoluk’s girls’ basketball playing career in a few words.

On Friday night at Warwick High School, the individual milestone that Smoluk reached during the Palmyra girls’ basketball team’s 54-27 triumph over Hempfield was as much a testament to her abilities as a teammate, her hard work and the Cougars’ success than anything Smoluk could accomplish on her own. With 33 seconds remaining in Palmyra’s District Three Class AAAA quarterfinal contest, Smoluk sank a free throw that was her tenth point of the evening and the 1,000th of her career.

Credit-UnionThe evening was also significant in that it was the 100th win of Smoluk’s and fellow seniors Maria Tukis’, Katy McClellan and Katie Dembroski’s four-year career. A hundred wins is a career total that few groups of Lebanon County student-athletes, in any sport, have reaached.

The triumph also qualified the Cougars for the District Three Class AAAA semifinals, as well as their fourth straight trip to the PIAA postseason.

 

 

 

WagnerWEEK ENDING Feb. 14

While the Class of 2015 has been responsible for getting the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program to this point of its development, it’s the sophomores who have been carrying the Falcons as of late. But when Cedar Crest needed her most, it was a seasoned senior who stepped up her play.

On Saturday afternoon at Manheim Township High School, senior guard Nikki Wagner tallied 15 points to lead the Falcons to a 58-49 triumph over McCaskey and to a Lancaster-Lebanon League championship. Wagner knocked down three key three-pointers, including a couple early, to go with a steadying floor game, flawless ball handling skills and tenacious defense.

It was the culmination of a great week for N. Wagner, one in which Cedar Crest won three straight league playoff games.

On Thursday, during a 47-33 semifinal victory over Cocalico, N. Wagner posted a 14-point performance which also included a trio of treys. Two nights prior, N. Wagner had pumped in three other ‘threes’ and 17 points in the Falcons’ hard-fought 68-62 opening-round win over Lancaster Catholic.

Credit-UnionFor Cedar Crest, it was its seventh Lancaster-Lebanon League championship, and first since 2010.

 

 

BritttanyWEEK ENDING Feb. 7

Neither was it planned or scripted. But a more appropriate way for Brittany Ulrich to register her 1,000th point would be hard to imagine.

The consummate team player reached the coveted career milestone while leading her team to a seasonal championship.

On Tuesday night at Garden Spot High School, the Lebanon girls’ basketball team’s senior point popped for a game-high 18 points – including the one which pushed her all-time total into four digits – during a 42-33 victory over the home-standing Spartans. The triumph clinched the Cedars’ second straight Lancaster-Lebanon Section Two title.

Ulrich eclipsed the 1,000-point mark off the dribble, with a hard, right-handed ‘take’ to the bucket.

Credit-UnionSure Ulrich can score, in the lane, behind the arc, at the free throw line. But the fiery 5-7 guard has made a career out of handling the ball, finding teammates in the right places, making those around her better – and leading.

As the Section Two champions, Ulrich’s Cedars will compete in the upcoming Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AAAA playoff tournaments.

Buchmoyer

 

 

WEEK ENDING Jan. 31

Numbers never lie. But sometimes they’re misleading, and other times they don’t tell the entire truth.

Caleb Buchmoyer’s numbers are down this season. But his team’s numbers are up.

Those are two facts which are directly correlated.

This season, Buchmoyer has given up individual statistics for the betterment of the Elco boys’ basketball team. And the junior guard has become very defensive about this new assignment.

Buchmoyer has taken on the task of guarding, hounding and generally harassing the other team’s best offensive player. Using a physical approach, quick feet and active hands, Buchmoyer’s defense has helped the Raiders take their game to the next level.

Credit-UnionThis week, the Raiders won at rival Northern Lebanon and suffered a home defeat at the hands of powerful Manheim Central. Buchmoyer netted a total of 13 points, as the outcomes left Elco 12-9 for the year.

Elco’s 12 wins is the program’s most in recent years. The Raiders also continue to challenge for rare Lancaster-Lebanon and District Three Class AAA  playoff berths.

WEEK ENDING Jan. 24

IMG_4400Joey Emborsky had been knocking on the door for the last three years. Then he finally got his invitation to the ball.

He didn’t want to dance with the princess or anything like that. He just wanted to go in and have a look around.

On Saturday at the Lancaster-Lebanon Wrestling Championships, Emborsky qualified for the finals of his weight class for the first time in four tries. Emborsky had reached the semifinals of the league tournament in each of the past three seasons, before defeating Cedar Crest’s Barry Breidegan in the semis at 145 pounds.

It seemed to matter very little that the Northern Lebanon senior fell to Solanco’s Dalton Groff, via a fall in the finals.

Credit-UnionEmborsky had advanced to the semifinals with a 10-5 triumph over Connor Pavlik of Manheim Central in the quarterfinal round of his bracket. Emborsky opened his tournament with a resounding 15-1 victory over Warwick’s Jason Kempiniski.

Emborsky’s performance at the L-L meet upped his seasonal record to 14-5. Emborsky’s team points helped the Class AA Vikings to a third-place finish at the event, a showing that was higher than any Lebanon County wrestling squad which had come before them.

 

 

ZermanWEEK ENDING Jan. 17

She’s last on the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team’s alphabetic roster. But she’s first in the hearts of the Viking faithful.

Affectionately known around Fredericksburg as Z.Z., Zoe Zerman’s play may be the biggest reason for Northern Lebanon’s amazing turnaround this year.

A heady, slick ball handling, poised point guard, Zerman has led the Vikings to a 12-5 overall mark to date. Last year, Northern Lebanon won a total of six games over the course of the entire season.

The Vikings have won five of their last six games, including a week in which they went 2-1. While Northern Lebanon may be a long shot to qualify for the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs out of rugged Section Three, the Vikes are a good bet to qualify for the District Three Class AAA postseason.

Last week, Northern Lebanon won 54-20 at Annville-Cleona and 63-53 at Columbia, but sustained a tough 55-54, overtime home loss to mighty Lancaster Catholic. Zerman, a 5-8 sophomore, led her side in scoring on each occasion.

Credit-UnionZerman poured in a career-high 27 points – on nine field goals and nine-for-14 free throwing – against the Crimson Tide. She notched a game-high 20 points against the Crusders, and tallied 16 points against the Little Dutchmen.

 

 

 

BlattWEEK ENDING Jan. 10

Following a somewhat sluggish start, the Palmyra boys’ basketball team has really picked up its play of late.

The same can not be said of Isaac Blatt. A versatile sophomore, Blatt’s play for the Cougars has been amazingly steady all season long.

It may be that that Palmyra has just started to follow Blatt’s lead recently.

On Friday night, Blatt went four-for-four at the foul line and poured in 16 points in Palmyra’s 52-46 triumph at rival Lower Dauphin. On Tuesday night, Blatt netted 15 points in the Cougars’ 81-71 home setback to mighty Bishop McDevitt.

What was significant about those two Blatt performances was that not only did he lead his team in scoring on those nights, but they also marked the sixth and seventh games in-a-row in which Blatt has scored in double digits. For the season, Blatt has been in double figures 12 times in Palmyra’s 14 outings.

With the Cougars relying on Blatt, Palmyra has emerged victorious in four of its last six games to thrust itself firmly into the District Three Class AAA playoff picture.

 

Credit-Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ColtonWEEK ENDING Jan. 3

Solid. Steady. Dependable. When you’re trying to win basketball games, it’s sure nice to have someone to rely on.

When one talks about being steady, no one brings it night in and night out like Colton Lawrence. It is his consistency which has helped the Elco boys’ basketball team become consistent winners this season.

With a variety of moves, the ability to use either hand, a deft shooting touch and a range that extends beyond the three-point arc, Lawrence can be  counted on to lead the Raiders in scoring on most nights. The athletic 6-2 forward is as comfortable playing with his back to the basket, as he does facing it.

Lawrence’s offensive arsenal makes him one of the most dangerous attackers locally and one of Lebanon County’s leading scorers.

Credit-UnionBut points isn’t the only thing that Lawrence brings to the table. He is also a tenacious rebounder, an imposing defensive presence and a player to whom teammates look for leadership.

With Lawrence leading the way, the Raiders have put themselves in the position to contend for rare Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AAA playoff spots.

 

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WEEK ENDING Dec. 27

The casual Lebanon County basketball fan hasn’t heard of Alexis Hill – yet. It would seem that it’s just a matter of time before Hill becomes a local household name.

This week, Hill continued to burst on to the local basketball scene, and the Lebanon High girls’ basketball team continued to improve and impress.

On Saturday night, in the opening round of Lebanon’s Holiday tournament, the Cedars’ athletic freshman forward was all over the floor during her team’s 53-45 triumph over Lebanon Catholic. Employing quickness, length and tenacity, the 5-9 Hill pumped in ten of  her team’s first-quarter total of 14 points, as the Cedars opened an eight-point lead over the Beavers they would never relinquish.

Hill finished with a game-high 19 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.

The victory was Lebanon High’s fifth in its last six contests and lifted it to 6-3 on the year.

Earlier in the week, Hill also led the Cedars in scoring, in a 46-44 overtime setback at the hands of Ephrata. Hill notched 13 points, on six two-point field goals and a charity toss.

Credit-Union

 

 

 

 

Austin

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 20

Alyssa Austin burst on to the varsity scene last year as a freshman. This season, Austin is the leading candidate for Lebanon County’s unofficial ‘Most Improved Girls’ Basketball Player’ award.

Austin’s breakthrough sophomore season continued on an upswing recently, as she helped Cedar Crest to a 2-1 week.

On Monday night at Ephrata, Austin enjoyed a monster night, pouring in a game-high 23 points and hauling in 17 rebounds in the Falcons’ 55-41 win over the home standing Mounts. Austin followed that up with a 12-point effort during Wednesday’s 45-19 home trouncing of Conestoga Valley.

On Friday night in Lancaster, Cedar Crest dropped its initial league contest of the season – 49-48 to McCaksey – but don’t blame Austin, who tossed in a game-high 17 points.

Partly due to Austin’s inspired play, the Falcons are off to a 4-2 start in 2014-15, 3-1 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

Credit-UnionA 6-3 post presence, Austin gets the job done with superior footwork, diligent determination and a soft touch around the goal. Though she is still very early in her scholastic development, Austin is said to have already drawn attention from Division One college recruiters.

 

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 13

TukisMaria Tukis has gained a reputation as one of the fiercest, most intense defenders in central Pennsylvania, and deservedly so. But this season, her fourth and final on the varsity level, Tukis has turned up the volume on her scoring.

Of course, it is just a different mean to the same end.

This week, Tukis led the Palmyra girls’ basketball team in scoring in two of its three games, all three wins.

On Tuesday, Tukis poured in 18 points to help the Cougars rally by Hempfield 52-43 in a key non-league match-up in Cougarland. Then on Friday night in Palmyra, Tukis posted 15 points to share team-high scoring honors with Molly Gundermann, during the Cougars’ 52-41 triumph over Red Land.

Earlier in the week, Tukis showcased her defensive skills in a crucial 44-39 victory over Mechanicsburg, in Palmyra’s Mid-Penn Keystone Division opener. The 3-0 week propelled the Cougars to 5-0 on the year.

Credit UnionTukis is also an accomplished runner, a one-time District Three champion and a two-time PIAA champion – in both cross country and track and field.

 

WEEK ENDING Dec. 6

Elco basketball, Lebanon basketball 059Jahlil Ortiz threw down monster dunks in each of the Lebanon boys’ basketball team’s first two games of the season. And while both only counted two points on the scoreboard, it was that type of inspired play which spurred the Cedars on to a pair of victories.

Ortiz’s leadership by example also earned him the Most Valuable Player award from the Lebanon Booster Club’s Tip-Off Tournament.

On Friday night, after battling early foul difficulties, Ortiz came on in the second half to tally 16 of his team-high 18 points in a 63-54 triumph over Lancaster Mennonite. On that night, Ortiz’s dunk came in the midst of a third-quarter burst when Lebanon was distancing itself from the Blazers.

Then on Saturday evening, Ortiz recorded 13 points and a bunch of boards during the Cedars’ 48-38 win over Elco, in the championship game of the event. Just as important as Ortiz’s points and ‘throw down’ was the defensive effort he provided to help Credit Unioncontain Raider star Colton Lawrence.

More and more it appears that if Lebanon High is going to get where it wants to go this season that it will be Ortiz who will have to lead the way.

 

IMG_7962WEEK ENDING Nov. 29

He holds no documents, deeds or titles to prove possession or ownership. But make no mistake about it, the Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball squad is Kevin Agnew’s team.

Agnew’s senior season is off to a great start, and not so coincidentally, so is the Flying Dutchmen’s.

On Saturday in Grantville, Agnew was up to his old point-guard tricks again, during LVC’s 83-80 road triumph at Messiah. Agnew played all 40 minutes, dropped in a game-high 24 points on seven-for-16 shooting and nine-of-ten free throwing and handed out five assists.

The triumph lifted Agnew’s Flying Dutchmen to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the Commonwealth Conference. Earlier in the week, Agnew had tallied 29 points, knocked down eight-of-ten foul shots and dished out four assists, without the benefit of a bench break, in a 78-71 setback at Delaware Valley.

Credit UnionThrough six games this year, the Lebanon Valley captain has averaged 22.8 points an outing and also leads the team in assists. But what Agnew brings to the table for the Flying Dutchmen can not be documented in any score book.

 

 

IMG_7817WEEK ENDING Nov. 22

It’s been an astounding start to the season for Bridget Rothert. Two Most Valuable Player awards are a great foundation upon which to build success.

On Saturday in New York City, Rothert earned her second MVP honor in the early going, as she led the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team to its second tip-off tournament championship of the year, this one at Hunter College. An evening prior, Rothert had poured in a career-high 31 points and established a new Flying Dutchmen standard for three-pointers in a game with seven, during a 74-59 triumph over Eastern.

The Hunter tip-off tournament championship gave Lebanon Valley College a three-win week. It also kept the Flying Dutchmen undefeated on the season at 5-0.

A weekend earlier, Rothert, a 5-7 junior guard, was honored as the MVP of the Gwynedd Mercy tip-off tournament. Rothert netted 23 points in the Flying Dutchmen’s 84-63 triumph over the host team in the championship game.

Credit UnionThrough five games this year, Rothert is averaging over 18 points a game, while leading Lebanon Valley in assists, rebounds and three-pointers.

 

 

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WEEK ENDING Nov. 15

Pennsylvania doesn’t name a scholastic ‘player of the year’ in the field hockey. But if it did, Palmyra’s Katie Dembrowski would certainly be in the running for the award.

After all, being the  best player on the best team in the state has got to count for something.

On Saturday afternoon at Whitehall-Coplay school district’s Zephyr Sports Complex, Katie D. closed out a marvelous high school career with a state championship. Although it was a co-championship necessitated by Palmyra’s one-all draw with Penn Manor, it was clear on that day who was the best player on the field – and team for that matter.

On a corner play midway through the second half, Dembrowski set up teammate Kiley Gallagher for the Cougars’ lone goal. It was a nifty little shuffle pass to her left that created space for Gallagher to drive one home.

Credit UnionEarlier in the season, Dembrowski, who concluded her senior campaign as the Cougars’ second leading scorer, from her midfield position, was honored as the Mid-Penn Keystone Division’s ‘Co-Player of the Year’. Dembrowski, who has committed to a full ride to Division One Penn State, is also recognized as one of the top scholastic performers in the country.

 

 

WEEK ENDING Nov.8

ErinShe has strong wrists, quick feet and superior hand-eye coordination. But Erin Huffman also possesses desire, determination and intangible nose for the net.

It’s difficult to determine which of those skill set makes her a better goal-scorer. But when you combine the two, the result is, well, awesome.

When the Palmyra field hockey team has needed a goal this season, it has turned to Huffman. And more often than not, Huffman has delivered.

Huffman, a junior forward, was by far the Cougars’ leading scorer during the fall of 2014. And since Palmyra has made it to the post season, the Cougars’ go-to girl has continued to produce.

Credit UnionOn Tuesday evening at State College School District’s Memorial Field, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs, Huffman struck again, during Palmyra’s overwhelming 3-1 triumph over Mifflin County. With 7:16 remaining in the  state opener, Huffman tallied a hustling, falling-away, put back of a rebound that gave her side a 3-1 lead, and all but assured that the Cougars would be advancing to the quarterfinal round.

For Huffman, it was her eye-popping 29th goal of the year. Combine that with the seven assists she has collected and Huffman has totaled 65 points thus far.

 

 

BucherWEEK ENDING Nov. 1

Cedar Crest’s Josh Bucher missed most of his senior football season with an injury. And quite frankly, that was a shame.

Not only will Bucher never ever get that eligibility back, it left observers wondering what the Falcons could’ve accomplished with their regular signal-caller at the controls.

On Friday night in Millersville, Bucher was on top of his game during Cedar Crest’s season finale, a 43-28 upset triumph over Penn Manor. The Falcons finished their 2014 campaign with two straight wins, and each time Bucher was the starting quarterback – not unlike he was in CC’s season-opening triumph over rival Lebanon High.

Credit UnionAgainst the Comets, Bucher connected on 16 of his 26 passing attempts for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Bucher also ran for a score, a 44-yard scamper in the opening quarter which staked the Falcons to a 7-0 advantage.

Also in the first period, Bucher hooked up with junior Evan Horn for a 35-yard touchdown pass that gave Cedar Crest a 13-0 lead it would never relinquish. Then after Penn Manor had pulled to within 22-14 of the Falcons, Bucher hit senior Dominic Garloff with a pair of fourth-quarter scoring strikes to put the outcome to bed.

 

 

AustinWEEK ENDING Oct.25

Some tactical and personnel changes have helped spark this current playoff run that the Elco boys’ soccer team is on. But even more important to the Raiders’ recent success has been their transformation in demeanor and approach.

And no one embodies that never-say-die, just-keep-going, full-ahead spirit more than Austin Smith.

Smith, a highly-skilled, dangerous attacker, is a threat to create or score every time a soccer ball enters his personal space. The senior forward seemingly fears nothing and isn’t afraid to put his teammates ahead of personal safety.

On Thursday evening at Hersheypark Stadium, Smith starred in both roles of creator and finisher, as Elco edged Pequea Valley 2-1 in overtime of a District Three Class AA playoff match. It was the Raiders’ ninth win in their last ten outings and propelled them into next week’s Class AA semifinals.

Credit UnionIn the latter portions of the first half, Smith needed very little operating room to knot the score at one, a mere minutes after Pequea Valley had assumed a 1-0 edge. Collecting a loose ball  at the top of the box, Smith controlled it, but then without taking a dribble, rifled a low right-footed shot into the right corner of the goal.

Then less than two minutes into the extra session, Smith accepted a Zach Swonger feed and went hard down the right sideline. After creating a bit of space for himself, Smith crossed a perfect pass across the goal mouth to the waiting head of Justin Kimmet, stationed on the  left post.

Goal! Goal! Goal!

 

InmanWEEK ENDING Oct. 18

It’s really not an unusual practice these days, participating in track and field or cross country as a way of staying active or remaining in shape for a primary sport. Jeff Inman took up cross country and running to stay aerobically fit for his passion, wrestling.

But something amazing happened when he did. He was transformed into a wrestler-runner.

On Tuesday afternoon at Ephrata Middle School, Inman was all runner, all the time. The Annville-Cleona senior was the top local finisher at the annual Lancaster-Lebanon Cross Country Championships.

After running with the lead pack for most of the 3.1-mile race, Inman finished a solid 14th. The timer clocked Inman in 17:19, easily the best time he has ever posted on that particular course.

It was an especially satisfying performance for Inman, who also runs long distance for the Annville-Cleona boys’ track and field squad in the spring. He had battled a series of injuries throughout his final scholastic cross country campaign.

Credit UnionBut where Inman really excels is on the mats. Two years ago as a sophomore, Inman qualified for the prestigious PIAA Wrestling Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center.

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING Oct. 11

codyFollowing a concerning early season injury, it’s nice to see Cody Kissinger back playing football. The Lebanon High football team is certainly glad to have him back as well.

On Friday night, Kissinger showed exactly why he was able to edge senior Justin Martin in a heated battle for the Cedars’ starting quarterback position, during preseason camp.

Against Lancaster Catholic at Alumni Stadium, the Cedars’ sophomore signal-caller was absolutely on fire. Despite falling to the Crusaders 49-34, Kissinger threw for an eye-popping 385 yards.

Working within the confines of the Cedars’ Air Raid attack, Kissinger completed 22 of 38 pass attempts, for two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a career night for the emerging quarterback.

Credit UnionKissinger’s first touchdown toss covered 38 yards to Luke Eisenhour and pulled Lebanon High to within 14-7 late in the opening period. His second scoring strike went for 27 yards to flashy Nick  Negron and moved the Cedars to within 21-14 of Lancaster Catholic, 42 seconds into the second quarter.

Eisenhour and Negron were just two of the five Cedar teammates targeted by Kissinger. Negron caught seven balls from Kissinger, Eisenhour pulled in five, Omel Francois hauled in four, Xavier Baez had three and Malik Hunter one.

 

 

IMG_3097WEEK ENDING Oct. 4

Monica Sheaffer has had a front row seat for the evolution of the Palmyra girls’ volleyball program. And in many ways Sheaffer has grown up right along with the Cougars.

But much more than a casual bystander, Sheaffer has been a very active participant.

On Tuesday evening inside the gymnasium of Palmyra High School, Sheaffer, a 6-0 front-row hitter and blocker, actively participated in the Cougars’ 3-0 Mid-Penn Colonial Division sweep of nemesis Trinity. Sheaffer was seemingly everywhere, including providing an intimidating presence at the net, as Palmyra dismissed the Shamrocks 25-13, 25-20 and 25-23.

During the competition, Sheaffer registered ten kills, four blocks and two aces. For the season, the hard-hitting Sheaffer has recorded 134 kills.

The triumph was Palmyra’s 34th in its last 36 matches, dating back to 2013. The victory also kept the Cougars unbeaten in the Colonial, in their drive to a second straight division crown.

Credit UnionDuring Sheaffer’s career at Palmyra, the Cougars’ v-ball program has displayed steady, and sometimes even remarkable, improvement, to the point where it now resides among the elite in Class AAA in District Three. Sheaffer’s contributions towards that success has been invaluable.

 

 

 

WEEK ENDING Sept. 27

TestermanThe Lebanon boys’ soccer team was like a nearly-completed jigsaw – there was one piece missing from the puzzle. That piece was a backbone, and apparently Seth Testerman had ‘the spine’ for the job.

Since Testerman has taken over as their goalkeeper, the Cedars have come together nicely. So much so that Lebanon High is now on the brink of history.

This week, Testerman, a former field player, logged a couple more whitewashings, extending his shutout streak to over 240 minutes of action, and Lebanon’s win streak to five matches.

On Tuesday in New Holland, Testerman backstopped the Cedars to a 1-0 triumph over Garden Spot. Then on Thursday afternoon at home, Testerman was at it again, leading the Cedars to a key 1-0 victory over Ephrata.

Not unlike his athletic teammates, Testerman was performing quite nicely as a position player. But when head coach Todd Gingrich approached him about a need as Lebanon’s last line of defense, Testerman took the job and ran with it.

Credit UnionNow, with Testerman in the net, the Cedars are knocking on the door of history. With a strong finish to the season, Lebanon is poised to make its first-ever trip to the postseason.

 

WEEK ENDING Sept. 20

VinesIf one had only one word to use in describing Matt Vines’ job on the Northern Lebanon defense it would be ‘espionage’. If one could use only one word to characterize Vines’ position with the Vikings, it would be ‘spy’.

You see Vines does his best work behind enemy lines.

Vines, a junior two-way down lineman, is also in charge of terrorism, mayhem and disruptions for Northern Lebanon. His philosophy is to ‘blow up a play, before it gets underway’.

On Friday night at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field, Vines was all over the place for the Vikings’ defense during their 47-6 triumph over the hometown Mounts. But mainly, he lived in Ephrata’s backfield.

Credit UnionEmploying a rare combination of speed, strength and quickness, the Vines-led Northern Lebanon defense yielded a mere 128 yards of total offense, and a paltry 64 rushing yards. The Viking ‘D’ forced six fumbles, caused ten ‘three-and-outs’ and recorded 17 tackles-for-loss, many of which Vines was in on.

The defense is a big reason why Northern Lebanon is off to a 3-1 start and eyeing a possible Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship.

But Vines, the reigning Lebanon County 220-pound wrestling champ, is also a key contributor to the Northern Lebanon offense, consistently opening holes in opponents’ defenses from his left guard spot.

 

WEEK ENDING Sept. 13

serveMadison Fortna loves to live on the baseline and unleash big forehand after big forehand. It’s an approach to the game of tennis that served the Cedar Crest senior well on Wednesday.

Competing on her home court, Fortna’s ground-stroke game earned her a Lebanon County girls’ tennis championship, as she used it to dominate Sydney Nye of Elco. In the title tilt at number-one singles, Fortna defeated Nye, 6-1, 6-2.

Actually, Fortna had opened up a 5-0, first-set advantage on Nye on the previous Saturday, before rain came and suspended the match. When action resumed, Fortna needed just two games to close out the opening set, then notched an early service break to open a 2-0 lead in the second set.

Fortna extended her second-set lead to 4-1, before taking the final two games to claim the match.

The Lebanon County championship was the second in as many years for Fortna, the only 12th-grader on a young Cedar Crest squad.

Fortna’s title at number-one singles helped the Falcons to a runner-up finish to Elco in the team competition.

WEEK ENDING Sept. 6

GallagherBack-up? Naah! Second-stringer? Nope. Reserve? Not quite.

How about ‘patient star in waiting’? Perfect.

On Friday night at Elco Stadium, Tyler Gallagher got an opportunity to showcase what he can do at the quarterback position for the Palmyra football squad. And he made the absolute most of the opportunity.

Subbing for injured starter Michael Lewis, Gallagher shredded the Elco defense during the Cougars’ 41-30 non-league triumph over the Raiders. Gallagher completed 12 of 20 pass attempts for 236 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

After the Raiders had grabbed an early 7-0 lead, Gallagher hit standout senior teammate Mitchell Cooper for a pair of touchdowns to help Palmyra forge a 21-21 halftime tie. Then in the fourth quarter, Gallagher found Peter Robertson for a 24-yard touchdown toss at the end of a ten-play, 89-yard drive that gave the Cougars their first lead of the evening, 28-24.

Gallagher closed out his night – and for all intents and purposes the Raiders – with 6:32 remaining, when he collaborated with Carl Reigle on a 64-yard middle screen that upped Palmyra’s lead to 34-24.

WEEK ENDING August 30

RayIsaac Ray looked really good on the Week One film. He was even better in person.

Ray, Northern Lebanon’s senior signal-caller, was in midseason form during the Vikings’ 24-14 season-opening triumph at Pine Grove on Friday night. Exhibiting an uncanny feel for what the defense was giving him and executing Northern Lebanon’s offense impeccably, Ray was a threat with both his feet and arm.

Engineering his team’s option attack, Ray had his hands – and legs – in all three of Northern Lebanon’s touchdowns and 24 of the Vikes’ points. Ray went 14-for-16 for 203 yards, a touchdown and a pair of two-point conversion tosses, and carried 12 times for 85 yards and a pair of rushing scores.

Ray’s eight-yard keeper in the third quarter opened Northern Lebanon’s scoring. He then tossed a 57-yard scoring strike to John Randolph early in the fourth quarter, before putting the outcome out of reach with a 55-yard touchdown scamper.

For a Northern Lebanon club trying to turn around its 3-7 fortunes from a year ago,  it was a great way to get the 2014 campaign off on the right foot. Ray is also an accomplished performer for the Vikings boys’ basketball team during the winter months.

WEEK ENDING August 23

JimmyJimmy Gardner is a facilitator, an organizer and Lebanon County’s biggest local amateur golf advocate. It just so happens he can play a little bit as well.

Gardner recently teamed with Brian Auman to win the annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament at Pine Meadows Golf Course. Gardner and Auman carded a second-day 69 to follow up a blistering opening-round 64, and claim the trophy by three shots over defending champions Mike Schmidt, Jr. and Ryan Weaber.

Gardner and Auman carried a two-shot advantage into the second round, then secured the title with a three-birdie stretch late in the day. Auman ignited the run with a tap-in birdie at number 14.

Then, Auman rolled in a ten-foot birdie putt at the par-four, 15th test. Then on the par-four 16th, Gardner all but clinched the victory by draining a short birdie putt.

Earlier in the summer, Gardner had teamed with Andy Gibbons to qualify for the championship flight of the prestigious W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners event, where they reached the quarterfinals of match play at the Lebanon Country Club. In June at Royal Oaks Golf Course, Gardner won the first flight at the Lebanon County Amatuer golf championships, a tournament which he directed.

WEEK ENDING August 16

SorrentinoThis week, Lebanon Sports Buzz is honoring Lou Sorrentino as its ‘Athlete of the Week’. Not so much for what he accomplished in the last seven days, but for what he accomplished in a lifetime.

Not unlike the way ‘Sweet Lou’ was remembered by his alma mater.

Recently, Lebanon Valley College named its most popular athletic facility after its former athletic director, coach and student-athlete. From this week forward, the Flying Dutchmen’s basketball and volleyball palace will be known as ‘Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium’.

It was a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his entire adult life to LVC athletics. Sorrentino was perhaps the most influential figure in the century-long history of Lebanon Valley sports.

Sorrentino, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 78, served as the Flying Dutchmen’s athletic director until his retirement in 2000. Sorrentino coached four sports at Lebanon Valley – football, basketball, baseball and golf – and during one school year headed three different programs.

As a player in the early 1950s, Sorrentino earned an astonishing 12 varsity letters for his participation in three sports.

BradyWEEK ENDING August 9

There’s something to be said for athletes performing at their highest level when the game is on the line. Sometimes it’s not as much about where or how or why, as it is about when.

Brady Goodling’s sense of timing – and just a bit of a flair for the dramatic – produced a championship for his side at one of the most prestigious golf events in the area.

On Tuesday evening at the Lebanon Country Club’s 6,562-yard, par-72 test, Goodling struck local golf’s shot of the summer, as he and partner Kyle Deisher edged Mike Schmidt, Jr. and John DiGiacomo on the first sudden-death playoff hole of the championship flight’s final match to win the W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament. Technically, ‘the shot’ came on Goodling’s second stroke on LCC’s 523-yard, par-five 15th hole.

With the match all-square, Goodling mashed a five-wood 230 yards to within eight feet below the stick. With  DiGiacomo and Schmidt scrambling to recover from the ‘game-changer’, Goodling calmly stepped up and sank the eagle putt to win the hole and the event.

Not only did Goodling’s performance under pressure end a spirited match which had been postponed nine days by a thunderstorm, he dramatically removed a huge monkey that had been living on his team’s back for three years. Goodling and Deisher had advanced to the last two championship matches at the Sullivan, but lost both.

Goodling is a member at the Lebanon Country Club, a graduate of Manheim Central High School and a senior member on the Monmouth College golf team.

 

WEEK ENDING August 2

WentlingIf Kerry Wentling was to walk away from competitive golf, he would retire as an undefeated champion. But there would be no defense for that.

On Friday afternoon at Lebanon Valley Golf Course in Myerstown, Wentling won the title of the 27th annual Lebanon County Senior Amateur tournament on his first try. Competing on his 5,761-yard, par-71 home course, Wentling fired a five-under par score of 66 to nudge runner-up Logan Sheetz by a couple of shots.

Wentling’s round featured six birdies, an eagle and three bogeys. But the key to his title may have been the hot putter he wielded. Wentling counted a mere 25 putts among his 66 strokes.

After trailing Sheetz by a shot at the turn, Wentling made his move on LVGC’s back nine. Wentling really got it going coming in, and carded a four-under par 31 on the back.

Wentling had gotten to three-under par by draining a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-five seventh hole. But bogeys at the next two holes brought him back to earth, temporarily.

Wentling has no intentions of vacating his championship. Plans are already being hatched for Wentling to defend his crown in 2015.

 

TrissWEEK ENDING July 26

 Travis Risser may be in the twilight of his baseball-playing career. But this week, he showed he can still bring it.

On Friday evening at Palmyra High School, Risser pitched the Palmyra twilight baseball team to a 9-3 victory over Linglestown. With the win, Palmyra improved to 20-2 and clinched the regular season championship of the East Shore Twilight League.

Risser was both effective and efficient during his outing. In keeping his pitch count in the neighborhood of the century mark, Risser whiffed five and issued one free pass.

Outside of the second frame, the hard-chucking righthander yielded a single lone hit. He exited the game after five innings of work, with Palmyra enjoying a 9-3 bulge.

A former three-sport star for Palmyra High School, Risser is now 29 and one of the elder statesmen for a Palmyra twilight club which is made up of mostly college players. While the competitive fires still burn fiercely inside of Risser, he also enjoys hands-on teaching as well as leading by example.

Risser, a former professional chucker, is also a pitching coach for head coach Tim Gingrich’s Cougar scholastic team.

StagerWEEK ENDING July 19

He was honored for being ‘Jake The Rake.’ Yet his biggest contribution may have come as ‘Jake The Snake.’

On Thursday night, Myerstown outfielder Jake Stager received the Jack Bicher Hitting Award as the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league’s best-of-five championship series’ most productive batter. Consistently squaring up ‘his pitch’, Stager collected more safeties than any of his teammates or counterparts in Annville blue.

But Stager may have turned in the play of the entire series, with his legs and nerve. In the bottom of the sixth inning of the opening game in Myerstown, Stager stole home for the only run of his side’s 1-0 victory.

Though it was a struggle the rest of the way, Myerstown never allowed Annville to get even in the series, before ultimately claiming the title, three games to one.

The county championship was Myerstown’s first in 30 summers and propelled it into the the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four American Legion tournament at Fredericksburg’s Earl Wenger Memorial Field.

Stager, who also starred as a member of the Elco football and baseball high school teams, plans to attend Bloomsburg University in the fall and walk on to the Huskies’ Division Two football squad.

WEEK ENDING July 12

RodkeyMitch Rodkey doesn’t say much, and when he does it’s with a soft confidence. When he’s on the bench, he sometimes sits by himself, away from his teammates, especially when he’s pitching.

So can someone with such a introverted personality be a leader? When you play the game the way Rodkey does, you certainly can.

The Annville American Legion baseball club looks to Rodkey often for an example, and for guidance. And when it does, Rodkey rarely disappoints.

Last week, Rodkey’s play on the field showed the way, as Annville swept Fredericksburg 2-0 in a Lebanon County American Legion baseball league best-of-three semifinal series. With the series victory, Annville, the runner-up during the regular season, moved on to meet Myerstown in the circuit’s best-of-five Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine championship series.

In a 4-1 Game One victory over F-burg, Rodkey twirled a complete-game eight-hitter, fanned five, walked three and knocked in what would prove to be the game-winning run with a two-run dinger to centerfield in the second inning. The following night, Rodkey stroked a key RBI-double during Annville’s four-run top-of-the-eighth-inning rally that sewed up the set.

During the recent school year, Rodkey, who will attempt to make the Arizona State University’s Division One baseball team as a walk-on, led the Annville-Cleona Little Dutchmen to the postseason in two sports – football and baseball.

DanWEEK ENDING July 5

This time, Dan Brown’s focus was a little closer to home. And when Brown focuses his attention on one thing, he usually succeeds.

On Sunday afternoon, Brown, a four-time Harrisburg District Golf Association ‘Player of the Year’ captured the championship of the 57th annual Lebanon County Amateur Championship. Brown fired a three-under par score of 68 over Royal Oaks’ 6,747-yard, par-71 layout for a two-round total of 140, which was two shots lower than runner-up and playing partner Andy Gibbons’ 70-72=142.

It was Brown’s second Lebanon County amateur title. He also wore the crown at Pine Meadows three years earlier.

Brown’s focus was apparent during the second and final round, with the tournament title on the line. He went one-under par over his final three holes and made up four shots on Gibbons over that stretch.

Brown parred Royal Oaks’ par-four 16th and par-four 18th holes, but may have struck the shot of the event on the par-four 17th hole. He stuck his iron approach shot on the hole to within seven feet of the flag and then calmly sank the birdie putt that changed the entire momentum of the event.

ShirkWEEK ENDING June 28

Darin Shirk embodies the definition of the five-tool player.

He can field.

He has an accurate cannon for a throwing arm.

Not only is he fast, but he’s a good base-runner.

He can hit for average.

And he can also hit for power.

In other words, Shirk is one of the most talented players in the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league. What he also is is a catalyst for Fredericksburg.

Scuffling early on, Fredericksburg got off to a slow 1-5 start. But since then, Shirk, the club’s three-hole hitter and centerfielder, has picked up his play, and so has Fredericksburg.

Currently, Fredericksburg is locked in a vicious battle with three other teams for the county league’s final two final playoff berths.

Win lose or draw, Fredericksburg will host the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four tournament at Earl Wenger Memorial Field during the middle of next month. It will provide Shirk with a new, different and bigger stage to showcase his talents.

WEEK ENDING June 21

MaysIt didn’t start out all that well. But as the game wore on, things just kept getting better and better for Jack Mays.

On Friday night at Elco High School’s Lyle Krall Field, in the first inning of Richland’s Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League tilt with Fredericksburg, Mays ran teammate Travis Zimmerman into a rundown by not immediately locating the ball in the outfield. Because Mays was running with his head down, Zimmerman was forced to abandon third base and was eventually tagged out by an F-burg fielder.

It took just a couple of pitches for Mays to redeem himself. Mays’ daring steal of home during a teammate’s subsequent plate appearance resulted in the run that tied the score at one.

But that was just the beginning of Mays’ big night. In the bottom of the third, when R-land was taking control of the outcome, Mays stroked an RBI-single that gave his side a 2-1 margin.

Then in the fourth, Mays turned the affair into a route. His double with the bases-loaded plated three teammates and gave Richland a 9-1 bulge.

Mays, the third hitter in the batting order, has been one of the main reasons why Richland has turned it around and became the most improved team in the local summer baseball circuit.

 

WEEK ENDING June 14

ClaytonClayton Wolfe goes about his business with smarts, stamina and experience. But perhaps the biggest weapon in his arsenal on the mound is trust.

Trust in his abilities. Trust in his training. And trust in his teammates.

On Monday evening at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Wolfe turned in a very trusting – and trustworthy – outing, as his Richland side shaded Fredericksburg . 4-2. It was Richland’s first win in the early going of the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League, after posting just two victories in each of the prior two summers.

In pitching six-and-two-thirds of an inning, Wolfe struck out only one. That meant that the other 19 outs the crafty 18-year-old righthander recorded were either ground outs or fly outs, which were entrusted to his defensive teammates.

Wolfe also did an admirable job of working out of trouble. Though he issued only one free pass, he scattered ten hits and stranded a bunch of Fredericksburg runners on base.

Richland foresees noticeable improvement for the 2014 campaign, perhaps even challenging for a playoff spot in the local summer baseball league. If Richland is to get where it wants to go, Wolfe will figure into the scenario.

ColtonWEEK ENDING June 7

One could say that he simply picked up where he left off. Or maybe Colton Long just has what it takes to go ‘the distance’.

Either way C. Long made the transition from the scholastic ranks to American Legion baseball quite smoothly.

On Friday, C. Long pitched Annville to a 2-0 victory over Fredericksburg. The triumph was Annville’s second in the opening week of action in the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league.

Following a marvelous spring campaign for the Annville-Cleona high school team, C. Long was on top of his game in the early going of legion ball. Against Fredericksburg, he checked the perennial contenders with an assortment of pitches, whitewashing them while going the distance.

From the mound and third base, Long was a key contributor to the Little Dutchmen’s run to the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four crown this spring. He also helped Annville-Cleona shock Warwick and then Northern Lebanon during surprising wins in the L-L’s postseason tournament.

C. Long and the Little Dutchmen also advanced to the semifinal round of the District Three Class AA playoffs.

 

HirnWEEK ENDING May 31

They say leaders are born not made. Well, Hayley Hirn turned herself into quite a leader.

And all it took was a little maturing, a little experience and some coaxing from head coach Dave Bentz.

Hirn, a senior catcher on the Annville-Cleona softball team, recently placed the finishing touches on a fantastic scholastic career. She came in as a wide-eyed freshman and exited as the Little Dutchmen’s unquestioned go-to-girl.

Over the course of her career, Hirn established herself as a feared hitter, an excellent defensive catcher and a great handler of pitchers. With all due respects to teammate Chrisi Lerchen and Cedar Crest’s Katie Gable, no one in Lebanon County enjoyed a more productive spring season than Hirn.

All Hirn did this year was help the Annville-Cleona program maintain a level of softball excellence that began nearly 30 years ago. With Hirn spearheading the effort, the Little Dutchmen finished second in Section Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, sprung a surprising upset in the opening round of the league playoffs and qualified for the District Three Class AA postseason.

Hirn will be replaced at the catching position next season, but her role on the team can not be replicated.

 

WintersWEEK ENDING May 24

Erin Winters isn’t much over five feet tall. But the heights to which she has elevated herself are higher than any other female Cedar ever.

Strike that. Winters has vaulted herself higher than any other female student-athlete in the history of Lebanon County track and field.

On Saturday at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the PIAA Track and Field Championships, Winters captured a fourth-place medal in the girls’ Class AAA pole vault. The Lebanon High junior cleared 12-0, but couldn’t get to the 12-6 height that winner Bridget Guy of Hempfield Area attained.

By reaching 12-0, Winters matched her personal best. It is a mark that no other girl in the history of Lebanon County pole vaulting has ever achieved.

But being the locale’s best ever isn’t good enough for Winters. She has stated that she would like to hit 13-0 before her career ends next season.

Earlier this spring, Winters had claimed the gold medal at the District Three Class AAA competition, also at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium.

PeifferWEEK ENDING May 17

Sidni Peiffer went above and beyond everyone’s expectations. Everyone’s except maybe her own.

On Friday night during the District Three Class AA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University’ s Seth Grove Stadium, Peiffer leapt higher than she ever had before. And because she did, the Annville-Cleona sophomore was the surprise winner of the Class AA high jump.

Peiffer skied a personal-best 5-3 on her second attempt to win the event by an inch over Shannon Donnelly of Boiling Springs. Prior to once-in-a-lifetime leap, the highest Peiffer had gone was 5-0.

Peiffer’s gold medal  helped Annville-Cleona to finish second among Class AA teams at the meet. Peiffer was also an important point-getter during a regular season in which the Little Dutchmen captured the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three team championship.

A week prior, at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Track and Field Championships at Hempfield High School, Peiffer finished fifth with a 5-0 effort.

DPWEEK ENDING May 10

Sometimes words get lost in translation. It may just be that ‘Pierre’ in french means ‘fast’.

At least it did on Saturday at Hempfield High School, during the annual Lancaster-Lebanon Track and Field Championships.

Denzel Pierre showcased his ever developing speed – and especially his closing speed – while excelling in three events at the league meet. The Cedar Crest senior sprinter captured the event’s premiere competition – the 100-meter dash – and, along with Peter Groff, Jared Brandt and Mitch Weaver, won the 400-meter dash, before finishing second in the 200-meter dash.

Pierre may have been his best in the 100. After a mediocre block start, Pierre put in another gear halfway through the race to win it by a close margin.

Pierre’s winning time of 10.79 in the 100-meter dash was not only a personal best, but also one of the quickest among District Three Class AAA sprinters this spring.

With his showings, Pierre was one of the top points-getters for a Cedar Crest squad which won its first L-L league team championship in ten years. During the regular year, Pierre was a heavy contributor to the Falcons’ Section One title.

 

IanWEEK ENDING May 3

After bursting on to the local baseball scene with a breakthrough sophomore season, Ian Whitman appeared poised to make the world his own. But his junior year just didn’t work out for him, and Whitman and the Northern Lebanon baseball team struggled in 2013.

But this season, Whitman has rediscovered his past form. And because he has, the Vikings have become the talk of Lebanon County scholastic sports this spring.

A hard-throwing senior right-hander, the cordial Whitman is the unquestioned leader of Northern Lebanon’s surprising pitching staff. Where Whitman is taking the Vikings is to the postseason promised land.

On Monday evening at Earl Wenger Memorial Field in Fredericksburg, Whitman hurled yet another complete game, leading the Vikings to a 7-5 triumph over Garden Spot. With the win, Northern Lebanon remained red-hot and kept their charge towards a Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff berth and a District Three Class AAA postseason appearance very much alive.

Since starting the season 3-4, Northern Lebanon has been one of the most consistent baseball teams in Section Three and the league. One need not looking any further than Whitman for reasons why.

IMG_7931WEEK ENDING April 26

Because our student-athletes are so talented and accomplished, it’s sometimes difficult week-to-week to distinguish one’s performance over other’. But this week’s athlete of the week is pretty much a no-brainer.

Not unlike the Outstanding Female Athlete award at Saturday’s annual Lebanon County Track and Field Championships was.

Not only did Reagan Hess steal the show at Lebanon High School, she dominated it. The freshman phenom from Annville-Cleona was the county coaches’ unanimous selection as the meet’s OA.

Using her special speed, Hess won every event she entered, and established two new Lebanon County standards in the process. Hess finished first in the long jump, the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and anchored the Little Dutchmen’s victorious 400-meter relay team.

Hess’s winning time of 25.5 in the 200 was the fastest ever run by a female athlete in the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships. Then Hess combined her talents with those of teammates Tori Malloy, Timeshah Clark and Veronica Merone to set a new local record of 50.2 seconds in the four-by-one.

With the big scholastic track and field meets on the horizon, it should be interesting to see how Hess fares as the competition heightens.

Conor

WEEK ENDING April 19

Conor Bawiec might be Lebanon County’s most talented baseball player. And he may just be the Cedar Crest Falcons’ most valuable player.

It is Bawiec’s talent and leadership  by example that has Cedar Crest in the middle of the Lancaster-Lebanon Section One race.

The Falcons are the best team they can be when Bawiec, their number-one starter, is toeing the rubber of the mound. A hard-throwing righthander, Bawiec gets opposing batters out with his velocity, the movement of his ball and his ability to spot pitches.

From his third spot in the batting order, the 6-3 senior is a catalyst for the Cedar Crest offense. Employing a selective eye, Bawiec the batter is a good contact hitter, who also possesses power and speed.

With Bawiec showing the way, the Falcons are engaged in a three-way battle with Warwick and Penn Manor for the Section One title, as well as the runner-up position which would also produce an L-L league playoff berth. Cedar Crest is also fighting for a berth in next month’s prestigious District Three Class AAAA tournament.

In addition, Bawiec aspires to ply his baseball trade on the next level. He is currently considering a number of Division Three programs at which to continue his academic and athletic pursuits.

IMG_6311WEEK ENDING April 12

Colin Muriaka got what he came for. Well, sort of.

Let’s just say he achieved 1.5 of the goals he set for himself.

On Saturday afternoon at the 20th annual Lebanon County boys’ scholastic tennis tournament, Muriaka was just a tad disappointed that he and his Cedar Crest Falcons had to share the team title with Elco. But Muriaka did take home the big prize.

Muriaka earned the title of Lebanon County’s top singles’ player by defeating friend and rival Adam Bahney of Elco 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match of the event. Muriaka, who had bested Bahney for the same crown last season, employed some hard ground strokes from the baseline to limit Bahney’s ability to come to the net.

The key moment in the match came early, in the third game of the first set, when Muriaka broke Bahney’s serve. Muriaka rode that service break and the momentum it created to win 11 of the next 16 games.

Muriaka also upheld Cedar Crest’s tradition of excellence at number one singles at the county tournament. Muriaka’s championship represented the eighth year in-a-row that a Falcon captured that honor.

 

GableWEEK ENDING April 5

Some people enjoy watching Katie Gable run, her long strides cutting the corners of each bag. Others like the way Gable attacks the softball from the batter’s box.

But when the Cedar Crest senior combines both aspects of the game, well it  truly is a site to behold.

Gable struck the big blow on Saturday in Fredericksburg, when the Falcon softballers claimed their first victory of the season, a 9-5 downing of County rival. Her bases-loaded triple keyed Cedar Crest’s six-run fifth-inning outburst that gave it a comfortable 8-1 lead.

Gable’s triple to the fence in left field scored three teammates, and moments later the lead-off hitter came around to score the Falcons’ sixth run of the frame. It should be noted here that Gable is also a solid, if not spectacular, fielder at second base for Cedar Crest.

But it doesn’t end there. Gable is one of the fastest student-athletes in Lebanon County and uses her speed to successfully compete in the sprint events for the Cedar Crest girls’ track and field squad.

And during the fall season, Gable played goalie and backstopped the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team to its second straight Lancaster-Lebanon League championship.

 

ZachWEEK ENDING March 29

Zach Southall knows his role on the Annville-Cleona baseball team. And he plays it to a tee.

Southall is a table-setter, an agitator, a catalyst. His job is to get on base, disrupt the opposing pitcher’s concentration and generally set the tone for the Little Dutchmen offense.

But when called upon, the senior two-hole hitter can certainly be flexible.

On on a frigid Monday afternoon against Pine Grove, Southall turned run producer. With his side on the wrong end of an early 3-1 deficit, Southall ripped a two-run double into right-center field to knot the score at three.

Though the Cardinals would go on to score an 11-5 non-league decision over Annville-Cleona, that fact didn’t make Southall  any less clutch. Southall also contributed a fine defensive effort in centerfield to the Little Dutchmen, who slipped to 1-1 in the early going, and their cause.

During the fall football season, Southall also manned the demanding quarterback position for the Little Dutchmen.

 

WerkheiserWEEK ENDING March 22

The role of reserves are almost always undervalued, partly due to their limited playing time. But because they have to be ready to go at the drop of a hat, reserves play an invaluable role in the success of teams.

Or put a better way, basketball teams are only as good as the kids they have coming off the bench.

On Tuesday evening at Altoona Area High School, Kailey Werkheiser was called upon to step up for the Palmyra girls’ basketball team, and she delivered in a big way. With forward Kristen Smoluk down with an injured shoulder for the Cougars’ PIAA Class AAA semifinal clash with Blackhawk, Werkheiser provided Palmyra with some much-needed instant offense.

Werkheiser nailed a season-high four three-pointers off the bench, as Blackhawk ended Palmyra’s magical run with a 49-41 outcome. But there were times when Werkheiser’s shooting single-handedly kept the Cougars in the contest.

Werkheiser’s trey with 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter pulled Palmyra to within 36-32 of the Blackhawks, and then her fourth of the game, 1:10 into the final stanza trimmed Blackhawks’ lead to 38-35.

Earlier in the contest, in the final 52 seconds of the opening period, Werkheiser drilled a pair of treys to help the Cougars tie the score at 12.

 

IMG_9316-213x300WEEK ENDING March 15

If you want to compete in the state basketball playoffs, you better be able to guard. And this year, Josh Bucher and the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball went as far as their defense could take them.

Bucher was the finest defender on a Falcon team stacked with tough defenders. When it came to doling out assignments, the junior guard always drew the opponent’s top offensive threat.

On Wednesday night at Coatesville High School, it seemed ironic and somehow fitting that the most successful boys’ basketball season in Cedar Crest history came to an end with a 49-43 overtime loss to LaSalle College, despite the fact that Bucher’s Falcons turned in one of their stingiest defensive efforts of the year. Bucher’s hard nose was stuck right in the middle of a Cedar Crest defensive effort that, up until the early portions of the fourth quarter, had held the Explorers to 19 points.

Ultimately it was the Falcons’ offense which abandoned them during crunch time, as they ended their season with a sparkling 26-6 mark.

But defense isn’t the only thing that Bucher brought to the table. Bucher, who is also an accomplished footballer, was a heady guard who made good decisions with the ball, got his teammates involved in the offense and led the Falcons in made three-pointers.

 

IMG_2670-300x250WEEK ENDING March 8

Want to count the number of Lebanon County residents who, over the years, have won a wrestling match at the state tournament?

Well let’s put it this way – you’ll need that second hand, but you won’t have to take off your socks or shoes.

On Thursday, Elco junior heavyweight Wes Bankus became a member of that exclusive club, and he did it in fine fashion. Bankus pinned Saul Wilkins, a junior out of Wilkes-Barre GAR with 11 seconds left in the first period, in the very first match he ever wrestled at the PIAA Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center.

Bankus started fast, registering a takedown of Wilkins in the bout’s opening ten seconds. Then in the middle of the first period, Bankus turned Wilkins to his back, setting up the eventual fall.

Unfortunately for Bankus, his postseason run reached a conclusion the following day. Bankus was edged 4-3 by Jake Beistel of Southmoreland in their Class AA quarterfinal bout, then was eliminated by Fairfield’s Brett Harris via a pin.

Through his performance, Bankus finished among the top 12 Class AA heavyweights in the state. A Lebanon County champion, Bankus finished fifth at the Class AA Southcentral regional tournament, third at the District Three championships and came in fourth at his sectional meet.

Bankus ended his campaign with a 44-15 mark.

IMG_0901-211x300WEEK ENDING March 1

We’ll spare you all the punny rhetoric about how Madison Rakow is a ‘big’ reason why the Lebanon girls’ basketball team is headed to the state playoffs. Let’s just say there’s a lot of people who look up to Rakow.

Seriously! Her hard work. Her budding confidence. Her improvement.

The strides the Cedars have made this year have mirrored Rakow’s growth, or perhaps more accurately, Lebanon and its 6-2 junior center have run parallel courses. Not sure how many onlookers knew at the beginning of the season that the Cedars would qualify for the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs or understood what kind of player Rakow could become.

This week, Rakow was in the middle of a great defensive effort by Lebanon High, one that propelled it into the state postseason. In a PIAA qualifier at Warwick High School on Thursday, Rakow and the Cedars shut down Lancaster-Lebanon League foe Hempfield 37-26 to claim seventh place in District Three and the final state berth that goes with it.

Rakow’s improvement from December to March can not be overstated. She’s more aggressive and confident on both the offensive and defensive ends, she has gone from a part-time reserve to a full-time starter whose presence is missed when she’s not in the game and she’s developed a shooting range that now reaches beyond the three-point line.

 

IMG_0464WEEK ENDING Feb. 22

In scholastic athletics, there are very few stories that conclude with happy endings. Sam Light’s story was certainly no exception.

Light’s season and career came to an end this week during the Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team’s  loss at Susquehanna Township, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs. And one couldn’t help but feel that Light and the Vikings deserved a better fate.

Light poured in 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to prevent that the Vikings from falling to the home-standing Indians 71-47. While Light was hampered by an injured left hand sustained at practice two days prior, one was left wondering how much the injury affected the outcome.

Two weeks prior, Light had become Northern Lebanon’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing a mark set by Travis Ludwig 24 years earlier. Light finished his career with 1,655 points, a total that left him out of Lebanon County’s all-time top ten.

Light, who was the leading scorer in the Lancaster-Lebanon League for three years running, did his damage with fearless drives to the basket, dead-eye three-point shooting, an uncanny knack for getting to the foul line and the composure to knock down critical free throws.

 

IMG_7323-269x300WEEK ENDING Feb. 15

Very few athletes in the history of Lebanon County sports have possessed the ability to impact scholastic basketball games in the ways Evan Horn does. And sometimes those ways are so subtle that they go unnoticed or don’t show up on stat sheets.

When watching Horn play, we are constantly reminding ourselves that he is ‘only a sophomore.’

Last week, Horn was at his finest, when the stakes were high and his team needed him most. It was a week during which Horn’s Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team went 3-0, and all three were contests played in the confines of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.

Against rival Lebanon High in Saturday’s final at Manheim Township, the sophomore guard netted 14 points, but more importantly imposed his will upon the Cedars. Horn controlled the flow of the game with his athleticism, his strength and physicality driving to the basket, his ability to get to the foul line, his ballhandling, his court vision, his decision making and of course, his defense.

If the Lancaster-Lebanon League would name an MVP for its championship tournament, the award would’ve gone to Horn.

Cedar Crest has now won 33 of its last 40 outings, dating back to the end of last season. It was at about that time that Horn was breaking into the starting lineup.

Horn is also an accomplished track and field athlete and football player. He has said in the past that his passion for football trumps all of his other athletic endeavors.

5WEEK ENDING Feb. 8

In the grappling world, Tanner Pyles is know as a ‘pinner’, a ‘fall guy’. Pyles wrestles to deck people, to earn the ultimate submission, to win without question.

And what he sets out to do, Pyles usually accomplishes.

Last week, Pyles, Annville-Cleona’s pin-master extraordinaire, enjoyed an absolutely marvelous and historic week. Pyles wasn’t named the Outstanding Wrestler at the 20th annual Lebanon County Tournament, but he could’ve.

Pyles went 5-0 on the day and won the 152-pound weight class, with – get this – five pins. It marked the second year in-a-row Pyles had won a Lebanon County championship in just such a fashion, and it was Pyles’ third local title overall.

But that wasn’t all. Amongst Pyles’ five wins was the coveted 100th of his career, and it gave him a sparkling 35-2 seasonal record. Of Pyles’ 35 wins, 28 of them – or 80 percent – have come via the pin.

Pyles does his work with aggression, experience and by relying on his natural abilities. Those attributes should serve Pyles well when he opens what he hopes will be an extended postseason journey at the District Three Class AA sectional tournament hosted on his home mats at Annville-Cleona next weekend.

Ulrich

WEEK ENDING Feb. 1

Two years ago, Lebanon girls’ basketball coach Ben Brewer would go up to anyone who would listen and talk about this ‘tough little freshman point guard who’s going to be pretty good.’ For some, it was difficult to see through  Brittany Ulrich’s unimpressive appearance and see her potential.

But not only was Brewer prophetic, he was also right. Ulrich has grown up before our very eyes, and so have the Cedars right along with her.

Last week, the Ulrich-led Cedars went 3-0 with wins over Cocalico, Solanco and Hempfield and clinched the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Two championship. The steady Ulrich contributed 36 points in the win, a handful of assists and flawless ball handling.

The wins made Lebanon victorious in 13 of its last 14 tries, and Ulrich has been the biggest reason why. A 5-7 junior point guard, Ulrich has truly evolved into the Cedars’ unquestioned leader, displaying poise in the clutch, a knowledge of Lebanon’s offensive flow and a true feel for her own skills.

Because of Ulrich’s play and the fact that they have earned a Section Two title, the Cedars will play host to two playoff home games over the upcoming weeks. And home is a great place for Ulrich and Lebanon to launch an extended postseason foray.

 

athleteWEEK ENDING Jan. 25

Adam Gilson is in the running for Lebanon Sports Buzz’s coveted honor of ‘Lebanon County Wrestler of the Year’. As a matter of fact, Gilson is the early leader for the award.

Last week, Gilson, a senior 195-pounder out of Cedar Crest, established himself as the local wrestler to beat when he captured the championship of his weight class at the Lancasteer-Lebanon League championships. He became just one of a handful of local competitors to claim a title at the league meet.

On Saturday evening, Gilson notched a takedown of Hempfield’s Tommy Bennett 24 seconds into overtime of the 195-pound final to earn the crown. Gilson had reached the championship match with an 8-4 decision of Carson Snavely of Warwick in the semifinal round.

On the prior eve, Gilson has opened his tournament by pinning McCaskey’s Ricky White at the 1:25 mark. Gilson’s 3-0 showing at the L-L tournament lifted his seasonal record to 23-2 and his career mark to 89-41.

Up next for the upwardly-mobile Gilson are the Lebanon County championships, sectionals, districts and hopefully spots in regionals and states. Last season, Gilson missed out on another coveted honor – competing at the PIAA Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center – by a single win.

 

IMG_0138WEEK ENDING Jan. 18

Last week, Alex Frattaroli notched the 1,000th point of his prolific and productive career. This week, Lebanon Catholic’s senior forward got a start on his second thousand.

On January 8, during a home game against rival Annville-Cleona, Frattaroli reached the career milestone with a three-pointer in the fourth that gave him 22 points for the game. His 22 were also a game-high and helped the Beavers turn back the Little Dutchmen 69-47.

But Frattaroli wasn’t content to stop there.

On Tuesday in Fredericksburg, Frattaroli pumped in 19 points, but it wasn’t enough as his Beavers fell to Northern Lebanon in a backyard scrap. Then on Friday, in the midst of a 70-57 triumph over Elco, Frattaroli went for 14 points in the paint.

A bit undersized for his inside position, Frattaroli gets the job done against taller defenders with a quick first step, tenacity and smarts. A guard growing up, Frattaroli was moved inside later in his career and the change has paid huge dividends for he and the Lebanon Catholic boys’ basketball team.

IMG_1034WEEK ENDING Jan. 11

It’s been said that as Cheyenne Hassler goes, so goes the Elco girls’ basketball team. And the Raiders are in the midst of a very productful and rewarding campaign.

So guess who’s having a splendid senior season?

Last week, Hassler’s play helped surprising Elco go 3-0 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, with road wins over Northern Lebanon and Manheim Central and a home triumph over Donegal. With a total of 46 points, Hassler led the Raiders in scoring in each of the three victories.

A deadly and streaky sniper, Hassler drained a total of eight three-point field goals during the week. With her play, Hassler, a 5-8 guard, has lived up to her recognition as a Lebanon Sports Buzz pre-season All-Lebanon County selection.

But most importantly, Hassler’s guidance and direction has the Raiders on a winning track. Elco’s 3-0 week upped its overall record to 7-4 and its Section Three mark to 7-0.

With a section championship and a District Three Class AAA playoff berth firmly in their sights, the Raiders may also go as far as Hassler takes them.

 

IMG_2725WEEK ENDING Jan. 4

When Richard Iwuagwu plays the game of basketball, he leaves it all out of the floor. Blood, sweat, tears, even knee skin.

Iwuagwu plays it as much with his heart, mind and guts, as he does with his feet, hands and legs.

Iwuagwu is a senior guard on the Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team, and he’s one of the biggest reasons why the Vikings are off to a 6-3 start. Iwuagwu is also one of the unquestioned leaders for Northern Lebanon, but his actions always speak louder than his words.

Around the Lancaster-Lebanon League, Iwuagwu is known for his defensive prowess. But what he brings to the table, night-in and night-out for the Vikings, is all-out hustle and determination.

But besides always guarding the other team’s best player, Iwuagwu is also an adept ball-handler, accurate three-point shooter, an under-rated rebounder and a kid who seems to come up with every loose ball. Off the court, Iwuagwu is out-going, intelligent, respectful and courteous.

Simply put, Iwuagwu possesses an infectious personality. And because he conducts himself off the court the same way he does on it, it’s a personality that never wavers.

IMG_1467WEEK ENDING Dec. 28

Sometimes going from a sophomore to a junior can be the biggest developmental jump in scholastic athletics, bigger than going from a freshman to a sophomore or going from a junior to a senior.

The game seems to slow down. Individuals take on more leadership responsibilities. And players grow into their bodies.

Rachel Miller has certainly elevated her game this season, and the most logical explanation for her improvement is going from a sophomore to a junior.

Last week, Miller led the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team to the championship of the Eastern York Holiday tournament, and while she was doing it, the 11th-grade guard picked up the event’s most valuable player award along the way.

During the Falcons’ 48-42 overtime triumph over Susquehannock in the final game of the event, Miller connected on three three-point field goals and poured in 15 points. Miller tallied half of her team’s points in the extra session, as Cedar Crest outscored Susquehannock 8-2.

The night before, Miller went for four three-pointers and tallied 18 points during Cedar Crest’s 54-49 shading of host Eastern York.

Partly because of Miller’s stellar performance, Cedar Crest is off to a surprising 5-2 start to the season. Averaging 11.8 points per outing,  Miller is currently stands third among female scorers in Lebanon County.

 

IMG_1306WEEK ENDING Dec. 21

On a club that’s as deep, balanced and versatile as the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team, it becomes sometimes difficult to single out individuals. Let’s just say that when it comes to Andrew Eudy, he stands head and shoulders above his teammates.

For it has been the play of Eudy, a 6-6 senior center, as much as anybody, that has been responsible for the Falcons’ historic fast start.

Last week, Eudy and Cedar Crest found themselves with three Lancaster-Lebanon League games on their docket, and the Falcons posted three victories, all in convincing fashion.

On Friday at ‘The Cage’, the Falcons shaded Section One nemesis Manheim Township 50-42. On Wednesday, Cedar Crest handled rival and previously unbeaten Lebanon High 67-48. And on Monday, the Falcons played rude hosts while blowing out Solanco 67-37.

Eudy went for a combined 30 points in those three CC wins, perhaps a modest number until one considers the intangibles that Eudy brings to the floor on a nightly basis. Things like rebounding, shot blocking, interior defense and his inside offensive presence.

 

IMG_2509WEEK ENDING Dec. 14

Last season as a junior, Carly Richardson was one of the Palmyra girls’ basketball team’s tri-captains. This season as a senior, Richardson has elevated her role of a leader to the next level.

Watch her closely on the floor and it seems like she treats her teammates like younger sisters, encouraging them when they need guidance, helping them up when they fall down and being stern when they need discipline. Richardson keeps leading and the Cougars keep winning.

Last week, Richardson also  led by example. In two Palmyra wins, Richardson posted a combined 33 points, did more than her share on the glass and even performed some nifty ball-handling feats.

On Tuesday, during Palmyra’s Mid-Penn Keystone Division opener at Cedar Cliff, Richardson, a senior guard headed to Division One Bucknell, knocked down five three-point field goals on her way to 18 points, as the Cougars lambasted the Colts 63-36. Two days later back in ‘Palm Town’, Richardson connected for 15 points and her Cougars pulled away from Elco 54-33 for a non-league triumph that kept them unbeaten.

Since Richardson burst  on to the area hoops scene as a sophomore, Palmyra has compiled a remarkable 63-5 overall mark.

 

LEBANON BASKETBALL, ELCO BASKETBALL 051WEEK ENDING Dec. 7

Not unlike most teams, the Lebanon boys’ basketball team entered the 2013-14 campaign with some ambiguity surrounding its players’ roles. After the Cedars’ first two games, those roles became a bit more clear.

Senior Jorian Ginnetto’s role for the Cedars appears to be to score, rebound, provide energy and lead. Ginnetto’s job description also seems to involve making plays down the stretch.

On Friday and Saturday, Ginnetto played basketball like it was his job and his workmanlike performance led Lebanon High to the championship of its own tip-off tournament. And for his efforts, Ginnetto was named the most valuable player of the annual event.

Ginnetto was at his best when his side needed him the most – down the stretch. Ginnetto came up with big play after big play, and nailed his free throw attempts, as the Cedars pulled away from Muhlenberg for a 58-48 triumph in the final game of the tournament.

Ginnetto finished his evening with 25 points and a boat load of rebounds. A night prior, during the Cedars’ season-opening win over Elco, Ginnetto was also a force inside and collected 11 points.

 

muddyWEEK ENDING Nov. 30

There are no sure bets in horse racing. But if one is looking for a pretty good bet, place your money on Kaylia Albright.

As a jockey at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Albright is enjoying an absolutely marvelous racing season. Last week was simply a microcosm of that season.

In 638 starts in 2013, Albright, a 2009 graduate of Northern Lebanon High School, has won 88 races, captured the runner-up spot 90 times and taken third-place another 90 times. What that means percentage wise is that Albright-piloted horses have been in the money 42 percent of the time.

Currently, the 22-year-old Albright is ranked sixth among jockeys at Penn National. The horses she has ridden have earned $1,661,917 in prize money.

It may very well be that horse racing courses through Albright’s veins. A third-generation horse person, Kaylia hails from Penn National’s famous Albright family.

Before her, Kaylia’s mother, father, uncle and grandparents were all actively involved with the sport.

 

LVCWEEK ENDING Nov. 23

That it didn’t take long for Tyler George to fit into a senior-dominated Lebanon Valley College football team this year is a telling fact in and of itself. George learned the offense, worked hard and kept his mouth shut.

But when Saturday afternoons came around, George allowed his play on the field to speak for itself.

George, a junior wide receiver for the Flying Dutchmen, was one of a few bright spots for Lebanon Valley on Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Ohio, where LVC endured a 59-17 loss to Wittenberg in the opening round of the NCAA Division Three national tournament. It was the Flying Dutchmen’s first-ever appearance in the Division Three playoffs, but George performed at the same high level that he always does.

The former Elco star led Lebanon Valley in receiving on the day, hauling in three Brian Murphy passes for 81 yards. Murphy and George collaborated on a 35-yard scoring play late in the third quarter that pulled the Flying Dutchmen to within 45-17.

But it would prove to be LVC’s last touchdown of a season that ended 8-3. Murphy also hit George for a 37-yard gain during the game.

George ended the season as the Flying Dutchmen’s third leading receiver, with 21 catches for 302 yards and four touchdowns. George averaged over 14 yards per reception.

 

CaitlinWEEK ENDING Nov. 16

Caitlin Bach is being asked to contribute to the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team this season in a way that transcends statistics. But that doesn’t mean the 6-0 senior forward can’t put up some spectacular numbers along the way.

On Saturday afternoon, Bach led the Flying Dutchmen to the championship of the Lebanon Valley’s George ‘Rinso’ Marquette tip-off tournament, both on and off the floor.

Bach tallied 14 points and hauled down a dozen rebounds, as LVC ran by Baruch 77-55 in the title tilt. For her efforts, Bach was tabbed as the Most Valuable Player in the event – for the third straight year.

On Friday night, during an 87-47 dismantling of Neumann, Bach turned in a 14-point, 16-rebound performance.

One of just two seniors on Lebanon Valley’s 20th-ranked squad, the Manchester, Maryland product was selected as an All-Commonwealth Conference all-star last season as a junior. Bach also holds three Flying Dutchmen program records, for free throws attempted in a season, offensive rebounds in a season and overall rebounds in a season.

IMG_8968WEEK ENDING Nov. 9

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Run-DMC. But have you ever heard mention of Catch-JDLC?

While not a musical act, J-DLC has been known to put on a show on the gridiron.

Jeremy De La Cruz, aka Catch-JDLC, is a star senior receiver for the Lebanon football team. And on Friday night, De La Cruz entrained the Cedar faithful in his final performance in red and blue.

De La Cruz was all over the field, as usual, at Dallastown High School, as the Cedars fell to the home team 37-20, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAAA postseason. De La Cruz caught ten passes from quarterback and close friend Mark Pyles, for 111 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

After the Cedars fell behind 23-6 late in the third period, De La Cruz began an LHS rally by hauling in a 17-yard strike from Pyles. It was that connection which had staked Lebanon the Cedars to an early 6-0 lead, when they connected on a three-yard scoring play.

De La Cruz’s show pushed the receiving total for his season over the 1,000-yard mark. De La Cruz, who is also a stalwart on the other side of the ball for Lebanon, helped the Cedars turn a 0-10 2012 season into a rare District Three postseason appearance.

 

IMG_8594WEEK ENDING Nov. 2

Sometimes you shoot. Sometimes you pass. And sometimes you simply put the ball on goal.

And sometimes if you do enough well, good things happen.

Katie Dembrowski’s ability to simply get the ball on net paid huge dividends for the Palmyra field hockey team, Saturday at Henry Hershey Field on the campus of Milton Hershey school. One a shot and one a pass, but both turned into goals, as Palmyra nudged Oley Valley 2-1 in the District Three Class AA title tilt.

Dembrowski’s shot attempt off a corner play in the middle of overtime turned out to be the game-winner when freshman sister Jess was there to tip the drive home. Earlier, 7:46 into the second half to be exact, a diving Erin Huffman had converted a long Dembrowski pass, after the star junior midfielder controlled the ball up the field and into the center of action.

The district championship was Palmyra’s seventh in the last 14 seasons. And it was Dembrowski who had helped put the Cougars in that position.

On Tuesday at Lower Dauphin Middle school, Dembrowski had assisted on a pair of Cougar goals, as Palmyra was defeating Lancaster Mennonite 4-1 in a semifinal match of the tournament. Dembrowski set up Kiley Gallagher and Megan Miller for the goals that gave Palmyra a 2-0 lead.

Through the district final, Dembrowski, who is also an accomplished basketball player and track-and-field athlete, has recorded 12 goals and 17 assists.

 

IMG_8024WEEK ENDING Oct. 26

In 2012, Miranda Salvo followed Maria Tukis to a District Three championship. This season, Salvo blazed her own trail.

On Wednesday afternoon at Hershey Parkview’s 3.1-mile course, Salvo won the Class AA individual championship in inspirational fashion. The Palmyra junior conquered the hilly and challenging course and the field, running a 19:15 to out  distance her nearest competitor by 25 seconds.

Salvo ran a spectacular race in her mind and with legs. She kept herself at or near the front of the race for the first two miles, then broke away from the pack as the finish line came within reach.

Salvo’s performance also inspired her teammates to a second-place finish in the team standings. Last season, Salvo was a follower, as the Cougars claimed both the District Three and PIAA Class AA team trophies.

For Salvo, more and more the top rungs of the medal podium are becoming comfortable places. During the 2013 spring track and field season, Salvo was a main cog in a Palmyra 3200-relay squad which captured both district and state gold.

 

IMG_7897WEEK ENDING Oct. 19

There’s not too many things better than an undefeated season. Unless of course it’s a championship at a year-ending meet.

But if you can attain both, well now you’ve got the makings of a perfect campaign.

On Tuesday afternoon at the Lancaster-Lebanon League meet, contested on Ephrata Middle School’s 3.1-mile course, Daniel Neiswender validated an unbeaten cross country season with an individual title. The Cedar Crest senior pulled away from his competition with a strong kick and finished the race in his second fastest time ever, a 16:27.

And if that wasn’t enough, Neiswender’s performance paced the Falcons to a 40-point triumph over McCaskey in the team competition. Cedar Crest’s team title also placed an  exclamation point on an undefeated – 21-0  -regular season.

Neiswender, who prefers to run at the back of the lead pack, was forced to take the lead at the halfway point by a slow pace. But everything turned out the way Neiswender had hoped, as he maintained his front-running status.

The performance also represented a departure from history for Neiswender, who had not run well at previous league meets.

 

IMG_6000WEEK ENDING Oct. 12

This fall, Palmyra enjoyed one of the most prolific scoring seasons in the history of Lebanon County field hockey. Meanwhile, Cougar Erin Huffman posted one of the highest individual totals ever for goals in a campaign.

Those two facts are certainly related and intertwined. But just how much is a matter of speculation.

Huffman scored three more goals this week and the Cougars added two more triumphs to their win total. First the prolific forward notched the game-winner in a 3-0 victory over Central Dauphin, then she tallied a pair during a pair in a 4-0 whitewashing of rival Hershey.

Through the 18-game regular season, Huffman posted an eye-popping 27 goals and added a pair of assists. That’s a staggering average of goal-and-a-half per game.

To do her damage, Huffman relies on a relentless, hard-nosed, hustling style of game. And of course, Huffman benefits from the talented supporting cast which surrounds her.

Thanks in part to Huffman’s nose for the goal, the Cougars have compiled a sparkling 17-1 mark through the regular season. Palmyra, which is the defending District Three Class AA champions, has earned the top seed for this season’s district tournament.

Should Palmyra piece together another lengthy postseason run, you can bet that Huffman will play a large role in it.

 

IMG_5700WEEK ENDING Oct. 5

Sometimes what you don’t do is just important as what you do do. What Nate Rader didn’t do was panic, compound his mistakes or make a ton of bogeys.

And what Rader didn’t do helped produce a championship.

On Monday afternoon at the Lebanon Country Club, Rader captured the individual title of the Lebanon County Scholastic Golf championship. Ultimately the key to Cedar Crest senior’s crown was his damage control.

Rader fired a seven-over par 79 over LCC’s 6,361-yard, par-72 layout and finished regulation in a tie for top honors with Carl Johnson III of Northern Lebanon. But Rader edged Johnson on the first hole of a playoff with a par.

And it was pars which got Rader to ‘bonus golf’ in the first place. During his round, Rader posted nine pars and a birdie at a course where he works par-time.

Rader’s steady play also inspired his teammates. Rader’s low score showed the way, as he teamed with Evan Dissinger, Zach Gristic and Tim Bomberger to post a team score of 252, which was three shots lower than runner-up Northern Lebanon’s.

DiangelisWEEK ENDING Sept. 28

Derek DiAngelis is the first option in the Northern Lebanon football team’s triple option offense. And sometimes the first option is the best option.

A hard, tough runner between the tackles, DiAngelis is Viking quarterback Isaac Ray’s initial read in NL’s read-option offense.

If Ray sees a hole for his fullback, he gives DiAngelis the football. If not he holds on to it, runs with it or pitches it to his tailback.

On Friday night in Kinzers, Ray saw a lot of holes for DiAngelis, and the 5-11, 200-pounder ran through them, with authority. Northern Lebanon’s ability to exploit Pequea Valley’s interior with DiAngelis proved decisive in its 28-21 victory over the Braves.

DiAngelis carried 14 times on the night – more than any other Viking back – and racked up 114 of Northern Lebanon’s 205 rushing yards. DiAngelis’ 37-yard touchdown romp in the first quarter got the Vikings off and running.

That scored gave NL a 7-0 lead, one that it would open up to 28-14 in the final quarter.

And one could say that the versatile and flexible DiAngelis is an all-around guy. Not only does he also excel in wrestling, DiAngelis took third in the Class AA pole vault competition at last spring’s PIAA Track and Field championships.

 

traderWEEK ENDING Sept. 21

Welcome to another chapter of Lebanon Sports Buzz’s continuing series ‘A History of Old-School Football from Back in the Day’.

Back when helmets were made of leather and footballs really were ‘pigskins’, there roamed the old gridirons two separate, but just as colorful, groups called ‘The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame’ and ‘Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside’. Northern Lebanon’s Dominic Trader is sort of a combo of those two legendary throwbacks.

Trader is but one member of the Vikings’ four-headed rushing attack, one that also features quarterback Isaac Ray, inside power guy Derek DiAngelis and slasher Travis Gates. Trader’s role in Northern Lebanon’s triple option approach is to run outside the tackles, use his speed to get to the sidelines and put pressure on the flanks of a defense.

On Friday night, at Fred Gahres Stadium in Fredericksburg, Northern Lebanon’s rushing machine was firing on all cylinders.

TheVikings ran the ball 47 times, gained 334 yards on the ground and did in nemesis Annville-Cleona 33-26. Trader, a blossoming junior, touched the ball just seven times, but gained 140 yards on those totes, including a touchdown.

Trader gained a good chunk of his yardage on outside flips from Ray. On one particular such play early in the second quarter, Trader started in motion before the snap, came behind Ray as the play began, took a pitch from his quarterback and got to the right sidelines before an A-C defender could touch him.

Trader did all the rest, scampering 51 yards for the touchdown that gave Northern Lebanon a 10-6 advantage, one it would never relinquish.

 

IMG_9517WEEK ENDING Sept. 14

It’s really rather a simple approach: Get the ball to Mitchell Cooper and let him do his thing. But in this age of over-thinking, sometimes what works best is getting back to basics.

Mitchell Cooper certainly did his thing on Friday night in Mount Joy, and because he did, the Palmyra football team now has something to build upon.

Cooper, a junior wide receiver, was spectacular in leading the Cougars to a 31-30 triumph at Donegal. He caught 13 aerials from quarterback Michael Lewis for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Cooper and Lewis collaborated on a 16-yard scoring play in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winning touchdown. At that point of the contest, Palmyra was staring down a 30-24 deficit and the prospect of yet another defeat.

But partly because of Cooper’s play, Palmyra snapped a 13-game losing streak that dated back to the 2011 campaign. The Cougars’ last win came against Manheim Central, in that year’s District Three Class AAA postseason.

It was Cooper and Lewis who got the Cougars off on the right foot against the Indians, as they hooked up for a 24-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter which game Palmyra a 10-0 lead. Behind two more TD tosses from Lewis, the Cougars enjoyed a 24-12 halftime cushion.

Through three games this season, Cooper now has 27 catches for 355 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper is averaging over 13 yards per catch.

CEDAR CREST FOOTBALL, LEBANON FOOTBALL 014WEEK ENDING Sept. 7

Five touchdown passes would be a season for some quarterbacks, and a career night for others. But Mark Pyles didn’t stop there, for Number Six was the most important one of all.

Because Number Six proved to be the game-winner.

On Friday night at Lebanon Alumni Stadium, the Lebanon High football team snapped an 11-game losing streak with an electrifying 40-39 win over Northern Lebanon. And the Cedars needed all six of Pyles’ career-high touchdown tosses to get the job done.

Down 39-32 in overtime, and faced with a fourth-down-and-17, do-or-die situation, Pyles found favorite target Nick Negron over the middle for the touchdown that put Lebanon in position to win. Then on the two-point conversion, Pyles rolled out to his right and hit Negron for the two-point conversion that gave the Cedars the win and sent their bench into bedlam.

To this point of Pyles’ career, winning has been an elusive element to the one player who means more to his team than any other in Lebanon County. But ask him about it and the 6-0, 210-pound senior signal-caller will tell you there is nothing more important to him.

Pyles, who, when faced with the option, seems to be deciding to throw more this season, has thrown nine TD tosses through two games this season, going a combined 32-56 for 462 yards. He’s also carried the football 40 times for 188 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Pyles is nearing a decision on where he will play football at the next level. Projected as a linebacker in college, Pyles is said to be considering 20 scholarship offers from Division One and Division One-AA universities across the East.

 

IMG_9793WEEK ENDING Aug. 31

Great performers crave opening night and the big stage. And when it comes to Lebanon County scholastic football, there is no bigger stage than the Cedar Bowl.

One could certainly say that Gage Ocker’s performance on opening night matched the magnitude of the venue.

Ocker, a senior quarterback, paced the Cedar Crest football team to a 40-24 triumph over Lebanon High, during Friday night’s 42nd renewal of the locale’s most heated rivalry, on Ed and Jeannie Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium. Running the Falcons’ read-option offense to perfection, Ocker toted the pigskin 14 times for 166 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

And like any greater performer, Ocker’s timing was impeccable. All four of Ocker’s touchdown runs came after the Cedars had established an 18-13 lead early in the third quarter.

The highlight for Ocker, who split time with quarterback Josh Bucher mainly in the second quarter, came on a 68-yard scoring gallop three minutes into the final quarter, one which gave Cedar Crest a 33-18 lead. What should be interesting to follow as the 2013 campaign unfolds is Ocker’s an Bucher’s roles in the QB  time-share.

 

IMG_9204WEEK ENDING Aug. 24

There is no shame associated with being a  runner-up. In fact, when one considers the competitors to whom Chris Gebhard has finished second to, it can be quite an honor.

At the recent Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners golf tournament, contested on Iron Valley’s 6,542-yard, par-72 course, Gebhard starred in the role of ‘bridesmaid’ – again.

Gebhard and partner Steve Allwein were bested by Mike Schmidt, Jr. and Ryan Weaber in a three-hole playoff for the title of the annual two-day event. The two teams had finished the 36 holes of regulation with identical 70-71=141 totals, or three-under par.

In June at Fairview Golf Course, Gebhard had finished second to Schmidt at the the Lebanon County Amateur Championship, after Schmidt scorched the Quentin course for an opening-round 66 or five-under par. That performance marked a record fifth time in which Gebhard had finished second at the County Amateur.

Known for his steady and even-keeled play locally, Gebhard has won the Lebanon County Amateur tournament twice and the county better-ball once. Gebhard is a former Vanderbilt University and Cedar Crest High School star.

 

HaleighWEEK ENDING Aug. 17

It is one of the most prestigious and highest honors that a female soccer player in the country can earn. It is also an honor which no one in Lebanon County has ever earned.

But it is one that Haleigh Echard richly deserved.

Echard, a senior to be at Cedar Crest High School, was recently invited to try out for the United States under-18 women’s national soccer team. Echard, 16, is one of 24 girls from across the nation selected to a training camp for the under-20 team which will represent the United States at the 2016 World Cup.

Echard flew to Carson, California for the week-long camp from August 3rd through the 11th. Earlier this summer, Echard committed to taking her academic skills and soccer talents to Division One Pennsylvania State University.

Last fall, Echard led the Falcons to their first-ever Lancaster-Lebanon League championship, as well as a rare appearance in the District Three Class AAA postseason tournament. She heads a strong CCHS class of 2014 which will make the Falcons contenders for both titles again this fall.

Echard is a rare talent. With her quick first step and speed, she possesses the ability to blow by defenders with ease, and her great peripheral vision allows her to see the entire field and find teammates who don’t appear to be open to the untrained eye.

 

197309_106706226183769_665146176_nWEEK ENDING Aug. 10

It’s sort of all or nothing for Kyle Martel these days.

Sure the down time – just sitting around waiting – is a bummer. But when the Lebanon native does get a chance to do the thing he does best, the thing he enjoys most, he makes the most of it.

Martel is in the process of patiently nurturing a budding big-time stock car racing career, one which right now involves picking and choosing the events he will compete in. Martel, 25 and a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, sometimes goes months without hitting the track.

But recently, Martel was afforded an opportunity to race twice in less than 24 hours. And it was quite apparent Martel was ready when the checkered flag fell.

First at Pocono International Speedway’s 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle, Martel ran a very respectable tenth in the ARCA circuit’s Modspace 125. Then the following day, Martel finished 22nd in the Camping World Truck Series’ Pocono Mountain 125 in Long Pond.

Both were finishes to learn from and build off of, so when Martel gets his next chance at racing, he’ll be even more ready.

 

IMG_8093WEEK ENDING Aug. 3

It may have been adopted, but it was his home course just the same. And it was a course on which he wasn’t accustomed to losing.

In fact, the last time he tasted defeat at the Lebanon Country Club was at about this time last year.

On Sunday, Brady Goodling, a Manheim native and a member at LCC, and his partner Kyle Deisher, did lose on LCC’s 6,562-yard, par-72 layout, but it took some doing. Goodling and Deisher dropped a one-up decision to Scott Mayne and Derek Price in the final match of the championship flight of the 68th annual W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners golf tournament.

Goodling and Deisher opened up an early two hole advantage and protected it for most of the 18-hole match. But it was Mayne and Price who got hot at the right time, before winning the title on the final hole.

The loss was Goodling’s first at LCC in about a year. In 2012, with the same tournament title on the line, Goodling and Deisher fell to Andy Gibbons and Jimmy Gardner in the championship match.

Just a few weeks prior to Goodling and Deisher’s performance at this year’s Sullivan, Goodling had won his third consecutive Lebanon Country Club men’s championship, which is also contested under a match-play format.

 

Cambelltown 016WEEK ENDING July 27

Bryce Betz didn’t write the book on pitching. But he’s usually on the same page with his pitching teammates.

There weren’t too many positives to come out of Campbelltown’s performance at the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four American Legion baseball tournament, contested recently at Diller Field in Hanover. But Betz, a cerebral hard-working catcher, was one of them.

Campbelltown was eliminated from the event by a pair of one-run losses, but Betz did everything in his power to keep his team in it. Betz did an admirable job of calling pitches and handling pitchers, and by doing so, he gave Campbelltown two very good chances to win.

In Campbelltown’s 5-4 opening-round loss to Spring Grove, Betz was behind the plate for Mitchell Sauley’s strong outing. Then a day later, in a contest C-town would eventually lose to Ephrata 3-2, Betz caught Josh Sollenberger, as the southpaw took a shutout into the ninth inning.

In both losses, Campbelltown enjoyed early leads.

Betz, who also starred for the Palmyra High School team in the fall, is headed to Lebanon Valley College, where he plans to play baseball for the Flying Dutchmen and compete on LVC’s collegiate swim squad.

 

IMG_7387WEEK ENDING July 20

His teammates affectionately refer to him as ‘Bin-Bin.’ But on this day at least, he might as well have been called ‘Win-Win’.

Sunday was a very good day for Johnny Binner, a special one in fact. For rare is the day when a hurler records two pitching victories.

And both were playoff wins.

On Sunday, in a home-and-home doubleheader to open the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league’s Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine best-of-five championship series, Binner was the winning pitcher in both ends of the twinbill, as Campeblltown opened a commanding 2-0 lead on Myerstown.

In the morning opener at Palmyra High School, Binner came on in relief of starter Tyler Morder, pitched the final two innings and got the win when his mates rallied from a three-run deficit for a 5-3 win. Then  in the afternoon nightcap in Myerstown, Binner was the starter and winner, as he went the distance on a six-hitter, struck out one and walked one, in a 12-5 C-town triumph.

Binner, a sturdy righthnader, tossed 118 pitches on the day, and most importantly allowed his side to save arms for the rest of the series.
When Campbelltown completed its sweep the next day, Binner was named the championship series’ Most Valuable Pitcher. He should’ve been named the set’s Most Valuable Player.

 

Myerstown baseball, Campbelltown baseball 017WEEK ENDING July 13

Throughout his playing days in Palmyra, Tyler Morder has certainly been part of his share of wins and championships. Morder brings a certain level of intensity to the diamond that makes him a winner, even before he steps between the chalk lines.

But while he has been a major contributor to those triumphs, Morder has never changed the course of a game – or even a season – in quite the same way he did on Thursday night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field in Fredericksburg. With his team in desperate need of a spark, Morder dared to be great.

Morder was a runner on third base with one out and his Campbelltown club locked in a 2-2 seventh-inning tie with home-standing Fredericksburg, in Game Two of a Lebanon County American Legion best-of-three semifinal series that F-burg already led 1-0. On a ball hit to the shortstop of a draw-in Fredericksburg infield, Morder stared his opponent down, waited until the fielder uncorked his throw to first base and then broke for home.

Now while Morder has some pretty decent wheels, what made the play successful was a tremendous ‘avoid-the-tag’, hand-slide away from Fredericksburg catcher Drew Bene. In the final analysis, Morder beat the play by a fairly comfortable margin and may have saved Campbelltown’s season.

The very next night, still riding the momentum created by Morder’s daring sprint, Campbelltown completed its comeback by winning the third and decisive game in the set.

Morder, who has committed to play baseball in college at Seton Hill, has also been an effective chucker for C-town, during its fourth straight run to the regular-season championship in the Lebanon County American Legion league.

 

WEEK ENDING July 6

IMG_6129Tyler Napierala is the most talented player in the Lebanon County American legion baseball league. Whether or not that makes him the best player in the summer circuit or the league’s most valuable player, well that is simply a matter of conjecture.

Napierala, a 19-year-old outfielder/pitcher, is truly a five-tool performer for the Annville entrant in the local league. And there is literally very few things that Napierala can’t do on a baseball.

Napierala is a smooth, gliding center-fielder. He’s a fast and smart base runner. He can hit for contact and he can hit for power. He’s got a great arm, and is a fierce competitor, on and off. Napeirala is also a cerebral player and leader who knows how the game should be played.

This week, Napierala was again a main contributor in Annville’s pursuit of the Lebanon County American Legion postseason. In a key match-up with Myerstown, with both sides jockeying for playoff position, Napierala got his team going by smashing a solo home run.

Later, Napierala drew a key walk during Annville’s decisive six-run rally, as his club improved to 8-3 on the season.

Napierala, who was a driving force behind the last team other than Campbelltown to win the County Legion championship, competed for the Lackawana Junior College baseball team this past spring.

IMG_5983WEEK ENDING June 29

He doesn’t play in the Lebanon County Amateur golf tournament every year. But when Mike Schmidt, Jr. does compete, he’s very competitive.

Schmidt, Jr. was very, very competitive at the 55th annual Lebanon County amateur championship, contested recently at Fairview Golf Course in Quentin.

Schmidt captured the title of ‘Lebanon County’s Finest Amateur Golfer’ in record fashion. Schmidt torched Fairview’s par-71, 6,305-yard layout for a six-under par total of 136, which tied the previous low for a winning total at the County Amateur.

Schmidt fired a five-under par 66 over his opening round to take total command of the tournament, heading into the final day of competition. Over his final round, Schmidt carded a one-under par 70 to best runner-up Chris Gebhard by five strokes.

The title was Schmidt’s second overall and second in six years. Schmidt won his first County Amateur championship in Royal Oaks Golf Course in 2008, played in the event in 2009 and 2011, but did not compete, in 2010 or 2012, so he has won two of the last four County Amateurs in which he has competed.

 

Campbelltown baseball, Fredericksburg baseball 004WEEK ENDING June 22

Josh Sollenberger is 19. And when it comes to baseball and the Lebanon County American Legion League, he’s an old man.

Further proof that everything is relative, even age.

Sollenberger is not an old man in the conventional or traditional sense. But for his age, he is wise, experienced and someone his teammates look to for guidance.

Sollenberger is a four-year performer for the Campbelltown entry in the  local summer baseball league. He was an important cog in C-town’s run to the Lebanon County championship and the Region Four tournament last season, but most of his former teammates have graduated from the club and moved on to other things.

So Sollenberger has taken it upon himself to mentor and lead those ready to step into those leading roles. This week, Sollenberger led by example, during an early season showdown with perennial league heavy Fredericksburg.

Sollenberger pitched Campbelltown to a surprisingly easy 11-1 victory over F-burg. Sollenberger, a crafty southpaw, scattered seven hits, struck out four and walked one  in his route-going effort.

This spring, in his first season on Division Three collegiate level, Sollenberger enjoyed a solid campaign for the Elizabethtown College baseball team.

 

 

Fifth Ward baseball, Richland baseball 013WEEK ENDING June 15

Josh Hammaker is a difference maker. He has the ability to change the complexion of a game, the chemistry of a team and the direction of a program.

That was very apparent last week.

Hammaker, a catcher for the Fifth Ward Lebanon County American Legion League team, helped the Golden Gophers to their first win of the season, a 6-4 triumph over Richland. Hammaker stroked a pair of run-scoring singles, each of which gave Lebanon the lead, and did an admirable job of calling pitches and handling pitchers.

Hammaker was also involved in two pivotal defensive plays at the plate during the contest.

Hammaker will be a key performer if Fifth Ward is to make the jump from playoff outsiders to postseason contenders this season. Hammaker was not a member of the Golden Gophers last season and did not play summer baseball locally.

Due to an injury, Hammaker got off to a slow start as a catcher for the Cedar Crest baseball team. But he came on at the end of the scholastic season to post solid numbers for the Falcons.

 

 

Annville-Cleona baseball 007WEEK ENDING June 8

Off the field, he’s known for his engaging personality and  his boyish charm. On the field, he’s known for his biting curveball and pinpoint control.

But for one day at least, Tanner Fitting made some big noise at the plate, with a bat in his hands.

On Tuesday at Fifth Ward Athletic Field, Fitting’s offense led the Annville American Legion baseball team to a 7-5 triumph over the home-standing Golden Gophers. Fitting led his bat do the talking, going four-for-four with three RBIs and a roundtripper.

With the victory, Fitting and Annville moved to 2-0 in the  early going of the local summer baseball circuit.

It’s a good start for Annville, most of whose players are two weeks removed from a high school season in which they helped Annville-Cleona qualify for the District Three Class AA and Lancaster-Lebanon League postseasons. It was a season which Fitting played a key role.

Most importantly, Fitting was the unquestioned emotional leader for the Little Dutchmen this spring. But the senior southpaw also served as Annville-Cleona’s top hurler and stopper from the mound.

Fitting’s presence and play will undoubtedly determine exactly how much damage Annville does in the County American Legion league over the next month.

DowneyWEEK ENDING June 1

Evan Downey enjoyed an absolutely marvelous senior season. Shoot, Evan Downey enjoyed an absolutley marvelous scholatic career.

That is if you like goals. And who doesn’t?

With 58 goals and 39 assists in 18 games – a gaudy average of 4.5points per outing – Downey, a senior out of Palmyra, led the Mid-Penn Conference in boys’ lascrosse scoring for the second straight season. Over the past two springs, Downey used his nose for the goal to accumulate a total of 101 goals and 73 assists.

But that’s not all.

Those totals propelled Downey past former teammate Will Haus, who recentlyhelped Duke to an NCAA Division One national, and into the top spot as Palmyra’s most prolific scorer ever. Downey is also recognized as the Lebanon County boys’ lacrosse’s all-time leading scorer.

Downey, who paced the Cougars to an 11-7 mark in 2013, also starred in soccer and swimming for Palmyra. Next fall, Downey is headed off to Division Three Cabrini in Radnor, where he will continue to pursue his academic and athletic careers on the collegiate level.

 

BenWEEK ENDING May 25

Do you know the difference between an element sensor and Ben Mason? One’s a metal detector and the other is a medal collector.

Of course, during this recently completed scholastic track and field postseason, if Mason detected a medal he also collected it.

Mason, a senior at Annville-Cleona high school, brought home a haul of medals from Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium over the past two weekends – six to be exact, and all of the shiny metal complexion.

On Saturday, Mason earned three medals at the PIAA Class AA meet. He helped anchor both of Annville-Cleona’s state-championship winning relay teams – the 3200-meter and 1600-meter squads – and individually copped a silver medal in the 400-meter dash.

The previous Saturday, at the District Three Class AA Track and Field, Mason struck gold in the 400-meter dash with a personal and Little Dutchman school record.  With the help of Little Dutchmen teammates Shawn Wolfe, Mark Bachman, Jeff Inman and Eric Bowman, Mason also took home top honors in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter relays.

So it turned out to be a grand finale for the graduating Mason, also an accomplished cross country runner who helped Annville-Cleona to team glory in that sport during the fall season.

 

District Track and Field 008WEEK ENDING May 18

We have reached the point of the track and field season where a lot of seeds have been planted. While Avree Wright has avoided that dubious distinction, it may be that the she is just blossoming as a thrower.

On Saturday morning, at the District Three Class AA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg Univeristy, Wright defended her top seeding in a big way. Entering the Class AA shot put as the competition’s number one seed, Wright more than lived up to everyone’s expectations.

The Annville-Cleona junior took home a gold medal, winning the shot with her first throw. Wright’s heave of 37-1.25 was well off her previous best of 38-4, but comfortably ahead of runner-up Emily Fisher of Greenwood’s 36-9.

Wright will ride the momentum generated at districts into this weekend’s PIAA Meet, back at Shippensburg. If achieved, Wright’s stated goal of setting a new personal standard for herself and of establishing a new Annville-Cleona school record would put her in a great position for a garnering a medal at the state championships.

 

WEEK ENDING May 11

Track and Field 001When presented with stressful situations, athletes are inclined to break down and revert to their natural instincts. But if they can somehow stay in the moment, focus on their fundamentals and retain their form, athletes can turn nerves into glory.

That mind-set has been the key to Denzel Pierre’s improvement over the current track and field postseason. Or perhaps put another way, Pierre has gotten faster by practicing what he’s been taught.

Pierre, a junior sprinter for the Cedar Crest boys’ track and field squad, has seen his times slowly go down since the postseason has hit. And such was the case at the Lancaster-Lebanon League meet at Hempfield on Saturday.

Pierre ran a 10.89 to win the 100-meter dash by an eyelash over Hempfield’s Tory Long and Northern Lebanon’s Joe Vedilago. Pierre also ran the anchor leg for a Cedar Crest 400-meter relay team which surprisingly struck gold.

Two weeks earlier, at the Lebanon County Meet, Pierre burst on to the local sprinting postseason by upsetting Vedilago in the 100-meter dash.

So how low can Pierre go? That will be just one of the local subplots as the District Three and PIAA Championships unfold over the next two weekends at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

 

Elco baseball 008WEEK ENDING MAY 4

It may be that baseball is not Adam Shoemaker’s first love or passion. But he’s a competitor, a fierce one.

And when he competes, Shoemaker puts his heart – and every other part of himself – into his pursuit.

On Friday afternoon at Elco’s Lyle Krall Field, Shoemaker, a senior right-hander, pitched on his home mound for the final time in his career. And he made it a memorable one, even going as far as to not wanting to leave it until the job was complete.

Shoemaker tossed a complete game, as the Raiders edged Garden Spot 3-2.  ’Shoe’ scattered seven hits and five walks and struck out two.

He also stranded 13 Spartans on the base-paths, as his teammates played stellar defense behind him.

It may very well be that the conclusion of the current 2013 spring season might be the last baseball that Shoemaker ever plays. And if it is, Shoemaker enjoyed an outstanding career for Chris Weidner’s program.

Shoemaker, who is headed to Division Two Shippensburg to play football in the fall, has not ruled out playing Lebanon County American Legion baseball for Myerstown this summer.

vedilagoWEEK ENDING April 27

Joe Vedilago is preparing to break out on his own and explore the scholastic track and field world. But Vedilago understands that before he does, he had to take care of business at home.

On Saturday afternoon at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships at Lebanon High, Vedilago kicked off what he hopes will be a very eventful senior postseason by taking home the Outstanding Male Athlete award.

Vedilago, a senior out of Northern Lebanon, rebounded from a close loss to Cedar Crest’s Denzel Pierre in the 100-meter dash by winning the 200- and 400-meter dashes, and by anchoring a Viking quartet which finished as the runner-up in the 400-meter relay. Vedilago has also been a driving force behind the Northern Lebanon boys run to a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three team title.

Vedilago was also the Outstanding Male Athlete at last year’s Lebanon County meet, and appeared poised to wreak further havoc as the postseason unfolded. But a hamstring injury at the Lancaster-Lebanon League championships two weeks later pretty much ended his campaign, preventing him from competing at the District Three and PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

Vedilago, one of the most highly regarded 400-meter sprinters in the state, will certainly be one of the athletes to keep an eye on as the area track and field meets go through their progressions.

 

wickerWEEK ENDING APRIL 20

There’s an old baseball adage that says the best way to build a team is to be strong up the middle – catcher, pitcher, shortstop, center-fielder. Well apparently, the best way to rebuild a softball program is from the pitcher’s circle.

At least that’s the approach that the Palmyra softball team has taken this spring.

Currently, the Cougars are in the midst of an amazing turn-around, going from also-rans to playoff contenders. And the key to the metamorphosis has been the Cougars’ pitching.

Sophomore hurler Cat Wicker has led the charge in Palm-town. The emergence of Wicker has simply allowed Palmyra to be a better team all-around.

Although Wicker is still improving, it’s been her consistency on the mound that has kept Palmyra in games and allowed them to be more competitive. Wicker will improve on her velocity as she matures and will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in coming years.

But right now, Wicker’s effectiveness revolves around putting the ball in play, allowing her defense to work for her and cutting down on her free passes.

Cedar Crest track, Lebanon track, Annville-Cleona track 002WEEK ENDING April 14

With her athletic docket jammed, Katie Gable has a lot going on this spring. So  it’s a good thing that she’s fast, because it allows her to arrive at the appointed time.

The fleet Gable  is actually splitting her time this season at Cedar Crest between two athletic endeavors, softball and track and field. And it just so happens that she is using her speed to excel in both.

Last week, Gable enjoyed a  big week, and because she did, she helped both the Falcon softballers and thinclads to emerge victorious.

Early in the week, Gable produced the game-winning hit in a Cedar Crest softball triumph over Penn Manor. With her team down a run, Gable had jump-started her team wither her legs, and inspiring the comeback.

On Thursday, Gable’s speed was instrumental in the Falcon girls’ track and field team sweeping Lebanon County rivals Annville-Cleona and Lebanon High. Gable won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and anchored Cedar Crest’s victorious sprint relay team.

In softball, Gable is a terror on the base paths, disrupting pitchers and applying pressure to the opponents’ defense. In track and field, Gable has provided a boost and helped fill a need that the Falcons had in the sprints.

Though playing two varsity sports in one scholastic season is  a challenge, Gable has stayed true to her commitments to both programs.

 

Lebanon County tennis 025WEEK ENDING April 6

Colin Muraika is very much aware that the turtle won the race.

Not that Muraika is slow. He just understands the power of steady, consistent and persistent.

On Saturday in South Lebanon, Muraika’s steady approach paid big dividends, in the form of the Lebanon County boys’ scholastic tennis individual title. After sweeping through his semifinal match, Muraika downed Elco junior Adam Bahney, 6-0, 7-6 (7-0) in the finals at Number One Singles.

At one point in the tournament, Muraika won 20 straight games. How about that for consistency? Consistently good.

Muraika didn’t flinch when Bahney discovered his power game in the middle of the second set. He settled down, right his ship, won the 12th game of the set and then notched seven straight points in the tiebreaker to claim the title.

Afterwards, when questioned about his success against the big serves and huge ground-strokes of Bahney, Muraika revealed that he was just looking to ‘out steady’ him. Muraika also understood the company the title put him in – some of the top tennis players who Lebanon County has produced.

Muraika’s championship also represented the seventh year in-a-row in which a Cedar Crest player has been dubbed the finest locally. In addition, Muraika’s performance helped the Falcons to a second-place showing in the team competition.

 

conorWEEK ENDING March 30

There’s a hole in the top of the mound on the ball field at Cedar Crest High School, one that’s not at all related to the pitching rubber.

Actually what it is is a void, a void created by graduation, and one hoping to be filled by Conor Baweic.

Baweic is very aware that he has big shoes to fill, stepping in for departed hurlers Logan Fullmer and Dan Black. But so far, so good.

At 6-2, Baweic is the biggest reason that the Cedar Crest baseball team is off to a 3-1 start. The junior righthander also lends credence to the mantra ‘Tradition never graduates.’

On Wednesday in Fredericksburg, Baweic pitched the Falcons to a 2-0 victory over Northern Lebanon. He was in control throughout.

Baweic surrendered but a lone single, whiffed seven and did not issue a free pass. He allowed only one Viking to get into scoring position.

It was also Baweic’s second pitching victory of the young season. Earlier in the spring, Baweic had led Cedar Crest to a season-opening triumph over Hershey.

 

IMG_9043WEEK ENDING March 23

Lebanon baseball coach Robert Nordall went into Friday’s season opener with Elco at Coleman Memorial Park looking for a number-one pitcher. What Nordall got was a whole lot more.

He got attitude, passion and the possible leader of a revolution.

By blanking the Raiders 2-0, the Cedars, a program starved for a new direction, registered their first season-opening victory in six years. And the player behind the triumph was junior right hander Cameron Martin.

On a cold and blustery afternoon, Martin was nearly dominant on the mound, shutting down Elco on four singles. Martin struck out nine, walked none, retired the Raiders in order during three of their at-bats and allowed just one runner to reach second base.

It was the type of pitching performance that could not only get a team off to a good start, but one that could help change a program’s culture of winning.

 

IMG_6267WEEK ENDING March 16

A space honoring local athletes’ weekly accomplishments is no place for recognizing career achievements. But for Kate Carmo we’ll make an exception.

So exactly what is Carmo being recognized for? Winning!

During these past two seasons, when Carmo blossomed into a solid performer and a versatile, do-it-all guard, her Palmyra girls’ basketball team compiled an overall mark of 47-6. That’s a winning percentage of 89 percent for those of you scoring at home.

On Wednesday evening at Martz Hall in Pottsville, Carmo and the rest of the Cougars’ undefeated season came to an agonizing end, in the from of a 40-36 loss to Scranton Prep, in the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. Though Palmyra fought hard to the bitter end, it just couldn’t seem to get over an early double-digit deficit.

One of the reasons the Cougars have been able to win on such a consistent basis over the last two years is the type of ‘whatever-it-takes’, hard-work, determined attitude displayed by Carmo, a senior, and followed by her younger teammates. While it may not have started out that way, over her career, Carmo developed into an unquestioned leader of the Cougars.

Carmo was also one of the few Palmyra players who intended to continue to compete in basketball once she moves onto college.

 

 

IMG_7175 WEEK ENDING March 9

In the 60-plus year history of the sport locally, only one Lebanon County wrestler – Northern Lebanon lightweight Jim Collins – has ever won a PIAA Championship. Given that fact, qualifying for the state tournament has become both an attainable and realistic goal for local competitors.

Last week, Jeffrey Inman achieved the ultimate goal for County wrestlers.

A 132-pound sophomore out of Annville-Cleona, Inman qualified for the state tournament by placing second at the Class AA Southeast Regional. Once there, Inman went 1-2 during his first PIAA Championship experience at Hershey’s Giant Center.

Inman opened his stay in Hershey Thursday morning with a 4-2 overtime decision over Williamson junior Trevor McWhorter. The win put Inman in the position of having to win one more bout to claim a state medal, but it wasn’t meant to be.

In the quarterfinals of his weight class bracket, Inman ran into undefeated Jason Nolf of Kittaning, who dealt him an 8-2 defeat. Then with his season on the line, Inman couldn’t get anything going in the second round of consolations and fell to Brookville’s Dalton Zimmerman 3-1.

Though his initial trip to states was an up-and-down ride, it should served as valuable experience – and motivation – for Inman to get back there next season.

IMG_6484WEEK ENDING March 2nd

Logan Stovall experienced his share of growing pains during his career with the Palmyra boys’ basketball program. But what he matured into was close to the ultimate team player.

Playing out of position at the center spot, Stovall sacrificed personal statistics for team victories this season. But no matter what the Cougars needed or asked of him, Stovall was always there for his team and teammates.

And he may have been the biggest reason Palmyra self-actualized in 2012-13.

A tough guard, Stovall poured in a game-high 29 points in Monday night’s District Three Class AAA semifinal at Hershey’s Giant Center, where the 13th seeded Cougars upended top-seeded Susquehanna Township 68-58. With his defense, rebounding and scoring, Stovall was clearly the difference as Palmyra defeated the mighty Indians for the second time this season, and fourth time in the team’s last five meetings.

On Thursday in the District Three championship game, the Cougars didn’t fare as well, falling to defending champion Berks Catholic 59-42, despite the fact that Stovall did his part. The 6-3 senior pumped in 16 points in the loss, and was the only Palmyra scorer to reach double digits.

IMG_6026WEEK ENDING Feb. 23

At small schools, the roles on basketball teams are much more defined and structured. And when a player is missing, it sends shock waves through the entire organization.

It’s safe to say that the Annville-Cleona girls are a better basketball team with Alex Siebecker in the lineup.

On Friday night, the Little Dutchmen certainly welcomed the return of Siebecker from a minor injury, as it hosted Camp Hill in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AA postseason. In fact, the presence of the junior combo guard made all the difference in the world.

Siebecker’s free throw with mere seconds remaining proved to be the decisive point in A-C’s 34-33 triumph over the Lions. Out of a timeout and in-bounds play, Siebecker shook loose from her defender, accepted a pass and then went strong to the basket, where she was fouled – in the midst of a tie game with time running down.

Siebecker had missed the Little Dutchmen’s previous outing, a lop-sided loss to Manheim Township in the opening round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.

Part of the so-called ‘Three Amigas’ in Annville – along with Elaina Wanamaker and Kayla Parks – Siebecker was a driving force behind the Little Dutchmen’s second-place finish in Section Four of the L-L this season, and A-C gaining the number-four seed in the District Three Class AA tournament.

IMG_5790

 

WEEK ENDING Feb. 16

WWW.lebanonsportsbuzz.com has some very strict standards concerning the number of players it selects for its all-Lebanon County basketball teams. But Clay Penchard elevated his level of play so high this season that he simply played his way on to the local sports authority’s all-county team.

Penchard, a slashing 6-2 senior wing out of Cedar Crest, was recently one of six – not five – local players selected to Lebanon Sports Buzz’s 2012-13 all-Lebanon County boys’ basketball team. Penchard’s inspired performances at the end of the season helped send the Falcons on an historic basketball binge.

Through his leadership, athleticism and ability to get into the lane offensively, Penchard paced the Falcons to 12 victories in 13 late season games. At one point midway through the season, Cedar Crest had sported a less than impressive 5-7 overall mark.

Included in Cedar Crest’s late run were Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff victories over Lancaster Catholic and Elizabethtown. That spurt came on the heels of the Falcons’ first league playoff appearance in 37 years.

With Penchard playing his game, Cedar Crest continued its run in the first half of the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship game with McCaskey, before falling to the mighty Red Tornado in the second half.

And don’t be surprised if Penchard turns up on the local Division Three college basketball scene next winter.

 

SpauldingWEEK ENDING Feb. 9

Things haven’t always gone Josh Spaulding’s way. But it seems that when Spaulding has encountered difficulties, he’s learned and grown from them.

Spaulding, a 6-5 senior center on the Lebanon boys’ basketball team, really elevated his level of play during the second half of the 2012-13 campaign. And when he did, the Cedars took off as well.

Spaulding was the driving force behind Lebanon High’s eight-game winning streak at the end of the regular season, one which propelled it to the Lancaster-Lebanon League postseason. By mere fractions of a power-rating point, the Cedars just missed out on qualifying for the District Three Class AAAA playoffs, after getting off to a 5-9 start to the year.

A tenacious defender and an under-rated scorer, Spaulding brought continuity and steadiness to  the Cedars’ lineup. He also matured into the role of a leader.

In the basketball world, Spaulding is known as a ‘high-energy guy’. His game is based on excitement, emotion and energy, and when he’s able to channel those forces in a positive manner, that’s when he’s at his best.

 

Taylor  SmithWEEK ENDING Feb. 2

It is one thing to baton down the hatches and weather the storm. It’s another thing to survive and get by.

But it’s quite a different proposition to shine in the face of adversity.

That’s exactly what the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team and Taylor Smith have accomplished this season. When things have been their most bleak, Smith and Vikings have been at their brightest.

Now how many teams in the area can say they are in contention for a Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AAA playoff berths after having lost three starters? Northern Lebanon can, and Smith, a senior forward, is one of the biggest reasons why.

With the Vikings depleted and former JV players now playing prominent roles, Smith has been a steadying influence, as solid as a rock and a source of leadership. But not only has Smith grown in the intangible portions of competition, she has also stepped up her individual game.

A tireless worker on both sides of the glass, Smith has emerged as Northern Lebanon’s top option offensively and its leading scorer. With a variety of moves, Smith scores around the basket against bigger and more physical opponents.

Adam GilsonWEEK ENDING Jan. 26

Adam Gilson may be the local poster child for the notion that our society places too much emphasis on winning. On Saturday at Conestoga Valley High School, Gilson did not finish first at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Wrestling Championships.

But in some ways, what the Cedar Crest junior accomplished was more difficult than finishing first.

Gilson claimed the bronze medal in the 182-pound weight class. He defeated Dylan Maxwell of Donegal in the consolation final.

By fighting his way back through the ‘meat grinder’ that is the consolation bracket, Gilson actually won more bouts – five – than the champion of the bracket.

After opening his tournament on Friday night with a 14-0 whitewashing of Ephrata’s Bobby Nye, Gilson was edged 8-7 by Hempfield’s Tommy Bennett in their quarterfinal bout. Battling a touch of sickness, Gilson was relegated to the consolation portion of the weight class.

Once there, Gilson pinned Brock Fittery of Manheim Central at the 2:58 mark and dusted Lebanon’s Adam Kearney 11-5. Then Gilson reached the consolation final by decking Jesse Kann of Penn Manor in 18 seconds.

Gilson’s 5-1 showing at the event lifted his seasonal record to a very respectable 22-5.

Alex RichWEEK ENDING Jan. 12

The future for the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program is a bright one. And it may mirror that of Alex Rich.

During a year when the Falcons have endured growing pains, struggled with role identity and have groped for leadership, Rich, a sophomore forward, has stepped up and filled a role. That role is one of go-to-girl, clutch scorer and under-rated defender.

Using a strong, hard move to her right, Rich has emerged as the Cedar Crest girls’ leading scorer. But that’s not all she can do. Rich can also stick from distance and is a tenacious rebounder.

As the Falcons look to return to the prominence of their glory days, look for Rich to lead the charge. She is perhaps the most talented player among Cedar Crest’s talented underclassmen.

But basketball may not even be Rich’s top pursuit. During the spring, Rich is also an accomplished lacrosse player for Cedar Crest.

The day that Rich is forced to choose between those two sports is on the horizon. But it would seem that there’s no wrong decision to be made.

IMG_1445WEEK ENDING Jan. 12

From the outside looking in, it’s difficult to decipher exactly how Sammy Light does the things he does on the basketball floor. But that might be the exact secret of Light’s on-court success – we can’t see what’s inside of him.

What makes Light a very good basketball player is that he’s a competitor, inside and out. And his game is based on heart, head, toughness, character and experience, more than physical tools.

Light, a 5-11 junior guard, led the Lancaster-Lebanon League in scoring last season and is one of the top scorers in the circuit this year. He is one of the biggest reasons why the Northern Lebanon boys are in the midst of one of its best seasons in this century, and are in position to enjoy one of the finest boys’ basketball years in school history.

In addition, the Vikings are in line for rare berths in the District Three Class AAA and L-L League postseason tournaments.

A leader with a high basketball IQ, Light can drain the ‘three’ and dish out assists as easily as drive to the basket and start the fast break. But Light’s best attribute might be getting to the free throw line, where he’s a deadly marksman.

WEEK ENDING January 5th
We all mature at varying rates.
So it may be that Adam Newhard recently experienced a growth spurt. Because the Palmyra boys’ basketball team’s senior guard certainly seems to have grown up, not just physically, but also emotionally.
Newhard has been a key cog in the Cougars’ recent winning streak. On Friday, Palmyra won its fifth straight outing by knocking off previoulsy unbeaten Susquehanna Township 65-57 in ‘Palm Town’.
And Newhard, more than any other Cougar, was responsible for the triumph. The sharp-shooting sniper connected on three three-point field goals and pumped in 16 points during a fourth quarter in which Palmyra held off, then pulled away from the Indians.
The Newhard-inspired win streak has Palmyra 8-3 overall and 4-2 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. More of a role player last season for the Cougars, Newhard has evolved into Palmyra’s top scoring threat, as well as one of the most prolific point-makers in Lebanon County.

 

WEEK ENDING December 29

 One of the keys to succes for the Elco girls’ basketball team this season will be identifying scorers to complement leader and bomber Cheyenne Hassler. And the list of potential candidates is as long as it is capable.

On Thursday and Friday, Halie Parker took her turn stepping up. And because she did, the Raiders took home a championship.

Parker, a southpaw senior point guard, was named the most valuable player of the Lebanon Booster Club’s Christmas tournament. It was a fitting reward for Parker, who, with her all-around play, led Elco to the tourney’s title.

The Raiders defeated Lebanon High 33-31 in the championship game of the event.

Parker’s scoring was only a part of her contribution to the Raiders’ performance. She nailed key free throws in pressure situations, dished out assists, came away with steals and provided a steadying influence for her teammates.

What Parker’s play – offensively and defensively – also did was limit and neutralize the contributions of Lebanon’s guard-heavy attack

WEEK ENDING December 22

 There’s something different about Timmy Orr this season. He’s more physical, quicker and confident.

And there’s a bounce in his step.

Orr, a senior guard on the Lebanon Catholic boys’ basketball team who eats and sleeps basketball, worked tirelessly during the offseason to assure that he would enjoy a stellar season campaign. There was also the promise of possibly playing basketball on the next level.

To this point, Orr’s hard work  has paid big dividends, for himself and the Beavers. Orr is the leading scorer and rebounder on a Catholic club that currently sports a 6-2 mark.

But Orr’s star has never shown more brightly than it did on Friday night at home against Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four front-runner Lancaster Mennonite. Orr’s strong drive to the basket with three seconds remaining proved decisive in the Beavers’ thrilling 70-67 triumph.

But Orr played an all-around good floor game, while piling up a team-high 28 points. When the Beavers need a spark, a big play or just simply a little bit of leadership, they certainly have a great place to turn.

WEEK ENDING December 15

 How many times have you heard it? ‘So-and-so paced the winners offensively’, ‘John Smith showed the way with X-amount of points’ ”Joe Basketball poured in a game-high…’

Offense. Offense. Offense.

But can a player set the tone for his or team’s defense? And if he or she can, how valuable does that make them?

Richard Iwuagwu possesses that particular skill set. And that might make him the best male basketball player in Lebanon County who no one has ever heard of, or the locale’s most under-appreciated and under-rated performer.

A junior guard for the Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball squad, Iwuagwu is definitely one of the top defenders in the County. And he may be Lebanon County’s best defensive player, period.

On Tuesday night at New Schaefferstown, Iwuagwu’s defense was instrumental in getting the Vikings off on the right foot against Tulpehocken. Because of its defense, Northern Lebanon led 12-0 seven minutes into the non-league affair and 20-1 12 minutes in, then was never seriously headed.

The win improved the Iwuagwu’s Vkings to 2-1 on the season.

 

WEEK ENDING December 8

 She can nail the ’3′. She can drive to the basket. She can rebound. She can defend, tenaciously. She can slash. She’s a leader. She can ‘dish the rock’.  She can provide an inside presence.

She’s versatile.

She’s Carly Richardson. And she’s the top female basketball performer in Lebanon County.

This weekend, Richardson was provided an opportunity to play her wares, during two days of action in the Northern Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament in Fredericksburg. And the junior wing didn’t disappoint.

Richardson led the Cougars to the championship of the event, as her club defeated Pine Grove 64-37 in Saturday’s title tilt. Richardson poured in a game-high 19 points and through her efforts was named to the all-tourney team.

Behind Richardson, Palmyra opened the event by dismantling Lebanon High 59-19 on Friday night.

If you’re under the impresssion that Richardson and Cougars are pretty good, you might be on to something.

WEEK ENDING December 1

 It’s way too early in the 2012-13 season to name the Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team’s most improved player. Let’s just say that Matt O’Brien is well on his way.

 On Saturday afternoon at the LVC Gymasium in Annville, O’ Brien tallied a team-high 19 points to lead the Flying Dutchmen to a 63-56 victory over Widener. O’Brien, a senior forward, knocked down all nine of his foul shots, drilled two three-point field goals, collected three assists and three rebounds and picked up two steals.

Because of O’Brien’s inspired play, Lebanon Valley evened its overall mark to 3-3 and upped its Commonwealth Conference record to 2-1.

To this point of the season, O’Brien, who hails from Brick, New Jersey,  is averaging nearly a dozen points an outing.  Last season as a junior, O’Brien started only one game for the Flying Dutchmen and averaged about four points per game.

 

WEEK ENDING November 24

 It might be a stretch to say that the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team goes as Kiely Chaklos goes. In reality, Chaklos is just another cog in the Flying Dutchmen’s very talented wheel.

But a very important one.

On Wednesday, Chaklos led the Flying Dutchmen to a 63-38 triumph over Elizabethtown, in the Commonwealth Conference opener for both clubs. What made the victory even more significant was the fact that Lebanon Valley has won the last two conference championships.

Chaklos was on top of her game, as the Flying Dutchmen put the outcome out of reach early in the second half. The sophomore point guard notched a game-high 17 points on five-of-11 shooting, seven-for-eight free throwing, and hauled down eight rebounds, as Lebanon Valley improved to 3-0 on tbe season.

Despite being only a sophomore, the 5-4 guard is one of the Flying Dutchmen’s two  captains. Last season, Chaklos was the Commonwealth Conference’s rookie of the year and was named the most valuable player of the conference’s postseason tournament.

 

WEEK ENDING November 17

The Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team’s offense must run through Danny Brooks. What could determine the degree of the Flying Dutchmen’s success this season is what Brooks does with the ball once he gets his hands on.

During Lebanon Valley College’s season-opening Rinso Marquette tournament this weekend, it became obvious that Brooks would be the object of every LVC opponent’s defensive focus this season. It was no coincidence that the Flying Dutchmen enjoyed two strong showings and that Brooks was in mid-season form.

In Saturday’s championship game of the event, against Middleburg, the fourth ranked Division Three team in the country. Brooks kept the Flying Dutchmen close throughout with game-highs of 30 points and 13 rebounds. The night before, Lebanon Valley had reached the title tilt with a 66-58 triumph over the College of Staten Island, thanks in part to Brooks’ play inside and 16 points.

A 6-6 senior forward out of Abingdon, Maryland, Brooks was an all-Commonwealth Conference performer last season when he led the circuit in scoring with a 20.7 points per game average.

WEEK ENDING November 10

Track and field, field hockey or basketball? Let the debate begin.

The subject of the debate is Katie Dembrowski and exactly which sport is her best. It may be whichever one she is currently involved in.

What isn’t debatable is the fact that Dembrowski is Lebanon County’s top field hockey performer.

Dembrowski, a sophomore forward, figured in both goals, as the Palmyra field hockey team recently endured a heart-stopping, 3-2 season-ending loss to Villa Maria, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs, at West Chester East High School in Chester. Dembrowski finished the season as the Cougars’ leading scorer.

Eight minutes into the second half, Dembrowski converted a penalty stroke to give Palmyra a 2-1 edge. Midway through the first half, ‘Katie D.’ had set up teammate Megan Miller for the goal that tied the game at one.

As a freshman last spring, Dembrowski was anointed the ‘Outstanding Female Athlete’ at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships. Dembrowski, a 5-7 point guard,  is also expected to be a key contributor to what is expected to be a very competitive Palmyra girls’ basketball team this winter.


WEEK ENDING November 3
Early in the fall cross country season, Palmyra girls coach Barb Mellinger was an interested observer as to exactly who would step up and become the leader of her Cougars’ pack. At the Lebanon County Cross Country Championships, Mellinger was quoted as sayiing that any one of a number of her runners could finish first, on any given day.
On that particular day at South Hills Park, a sophomore, Maria Tukis, won the girls’ individual title and led Palmyra to the girls’ team championship. From that day forward, the Cougars never stopped following Tukis’ lead.
And ultimately, Tukis led Palmyra to a state championship.
That PIAA Class AA crown came on Saturday at Hershey’s Parkview Course, where the Cougars edged Dallas 91 team points to 94. And Tukis set the pace for Palmyra by finishing ninth overall.

Ten days earlier, Tukis and the Cougars had won the District Three Class AA individual and team championships on the same Parkview course. During the season, the Tukis-led Cougars were also crowned champions of the Mid-Penn Conference, the Keystone Division of the MPC and the Lebanon Valley College Invitational.

The state title was Palmyra’s first in cross country and just the school district’s four team championship overall.

WEEK ENDING October 26

   Joshua Light is the classic soccer sweeper. Any scoring chances that find their way into the Annville-Cleona boys’ end of the pitch are sucked by the vacuum created by Light’s play.

Light’s protective and productive scholastic career came to an end on Thrusday, when his Little Dutchmen dropped a 1-0 decision to Lancaster Mennonite in a quarterfinal match of the District Three Class AA playoffs, at Lower Dauphin Middle School. The difference in the match was an early first-half goal by the Blazers.

But mainly due to Light’s play, the Lancaster Mennonite offense was shut down and shut out the rest. There were times when Light’s mere presence detered or altered any designs the Blazers had of making runs on the Annville-Cleona net.

On the other end, Light’s big foot on direct and indirect restarts helped jump-start the Little Dutchmen offense and generate scoring chances. There were also times the 6-0, 190-pound Light ’pushed up’ and involved himself in the Annville-Cleona attack.

Light was one of the biggest reasons why, at 13-5-1, Annville-Cleona enjoyed its most successful boys’ soccer seasons in more than a decade. Though not fully concrete, Light has aspirations to continue his soccer-playing career on the next level.

He certainly possesses the skills to do so.

 

WEEK ENDING October 19

 Control the midfield and you control the match.  Meet Haleigh Echard.

No one controls the midfield like Echard. And she patrols it with her speed, her ball skills and a long, loping stride.

Echard’s play and play-making abilities recently helped the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team win its first ever Lancaster-Lebanon League championship. The Falcons earned their rare distinction on Saturday at Manheim Central High School, with a finals victory over Cocalico.

Echard, a junior, plays the midfield position the way it was meant to be played. With her eye on back-checking and helping out on defense, Echard is constantly looking to take offensive opportunites when they present themselves.

First and foremost, Echard, who recently received  all-state recognition, seeks to set up teammates with her precise services. But when she sees an opening, Echard isn’t adverse to using her speed and ball-handling to create chances for herself.

Because of her two-way abilities, Echard was named the most valuable player in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, by a vote of the circuit’s coaches.

 

WEEK ENDING October 12

 Young Evan Dissinger picked a great time to play the round of golf of his life. And because he did, Dissinger took home a championship.

And not only are championships something to build a career upon, they are things which can never be taken from us.

Dissinger, a freshman at Cedar Crest, recently won the Lebanon County scholastic golf championship. Besting his personal record by some four strokes, Dissinger fired a 78 on the Lebanon Country Club’s demanding par-72, 6,361-yard lay-out.

Dissinger put together idential nines of 39, to finish three shots ahead of runner-up Caleb Ginder of Northern Lebanon. Dissinger’s round consisted of one birdie, 12 pars, three bogeys and two double bogeys.

Dissinger also has interest in basketball and baseball. But given his performance at the Country Club, it would seem the talented freshman will be faced with some difficult decisions in the upcoming years.

 

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