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Athlete of the Week
WEEK ENDING December 1
Anne Lehr is the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team’s go-to girl. Whether it be a stop, a key bucket, a rebound or a free throw, when the Flying Dutchmen need a play, they look to their 5-7 senior guard.
And Lehr almost always delivers.
This week, Lebanon Valley went 3-0, and Lehr was in the middle of all three victories.
On Saturday in Reading, Lehr notched ten points during a crucial 66-65 road triumph over Albright. It came three days after Lehr had poured in a game-high 27 points – which included 11-for-15 free throwing, four steals and four rebounds – during Wednesday’s 66-60 home win over Stevenson.
Lehr’s week began with 11 points and five steals in a 78-67 victory over Penn State-Harrisburg. The Flying Dutchmen’s 3-0 week lifted them to 4-4 overall, but more importantly to 2-0 in the Commonwealth Conference.
A graduate of York Catholic High School, Lehr currently leads LVC in scoring, assists and steals. But one is left with the distinct impression that the best is yet to come.
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WEEK ENDING November 24
If patience is a virtue, than timing is an accelerant.
Justin Baker has put in his work, he’s paid his dues. But it may be that his time with the Lebanon Valley men’s basketball has arrived.
Baker is an important piece in the Flying Dutchmen’s current rebuild. This week, the former Lebanon High star showed that he is an individual to be leaned on, someone to be counted upon.
On Tuesday at Elizabethtown College, Baker tallied a team-high 23 points, as Lebanon Valley endured an 85-74 loss at the hands of the home-standing Blue Jays. Baker’s output came on some very accurate shooting – eight-of-ten from the floor and seven-for-nine at the charity stripe – and it was complemented by four rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
The result made LVC, which is retooling from heavy losses from last year’s Middle Atlantic Commonwealth championship, 2-3 in the early going.
Baker, a junior guard, played all but one minute against Elizabethtown. Through five games this season, he is now averaging double-digit scoring for the Flying Dutchmen.
Going forward, Baker will be counted on for scoring, defense and all-around heady floor play by Lebanon Valley.
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WEEK ENDING November 17
Some were surprised by the Palmyra field hockey team’s run to the PIAA Class AA championship game. But it was a surprise not shared by the Cougars themselves.
It also wasn’t a surprise that Lauren Wadas led them there.
On Saturday at Whitehall-Coplay school district’s Zephyr Sports Complex, Palmyra endured a 1-0 overtime setback at the hands of Donegal, in the state final. But Wadas and the Cougars could take great consolation from the facts that they played their hearts out against the mighty Indians and that they represented themselves well along the way.
On Tuesday at Emmaus High School High School, during the PIAA Class AA semifinal contest, Wadas had netted a goal and two assists in Palmyra’s 3-1 triumph over Wyoming Valley West. The outburst gave the junior midfielder 26 goals and 11 assists for the season.
But scoring is just one of the aspects of Wadas’ game. One of the top 11th-grade field hockey players in the country, Wadas is a tireless worker who commands respect in the midfield and leads by example.
Over her three-year career, Wadas has tallied more than 50 goals for Palmyra.
During the winter months, Wadas also stars on the hardwoods for the Cougars.
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WEEK ENDING November 10
Nelson is the Elco girls’ soccer team’s unsung heroine.
On Tuesday night at Cedar Crest High School’s Earl Boltz Stadium, Nelson and the Elco’s remarkable campign came to conclusion in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs, when Lewisburg outscored them 4-2 in penalty kicks, after their postseason contest had ended in a 0-0, overtime draw. But what a fantastic ride it was for the senior sweeper and her Raiders.
Throughout the fall, Nelson starred as the anchor of Elco’s stingy defense. With Nelson consistently clearing balls, marking dangerous opponents and directing the Raiders’ backfield, Elco logged an incredible 17 shutouts in 22 outings this season.
Offensively, Nelson, who took the majority of Elco’s free kicks this year, contributed a pair of goals and a couple of assists to the Raiders’ cause.
Throughout the year, Nelson helped Elco to a 20-1-1 overall record, its fourth straight Lancaster-Lebanon section championship, an unprecedented L-L League title and a District Three Class AA crown.
During the winter months, Nelson also stars on the hardwoods, as a versatile guard on the Elco girls’ basketball team.
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WEEK ENDING November 3
In athletics, successes are meant to be built upon. Gwyneth Young’s success began in the spring, but as this fall progressed, she got better and better and better.
On Saturday morning over Hershey’s Giant Center’s 3.1-mile course, Young’s success peaked at the PIAA Class AAA Cross Country Championships. The Cedar Crest sophomore finished a very rewarding sixth among females in her classification, in a time of 19:20.
The performance capped an incredible fall season for Young, one in which she seemed to put her best foot forward as the meets became increasingly competitive. Young’s success can be traced to a spring track-and-field season, where she starred as a 3200-meter runner for the Falcons.
arlier this fall, Young was third at the Big Spring Invitational, sixth at the Carlisle Invitational and finished first in four of Cedar Crest’s five Lancaster-Lebanon regular-season meets. Then in October, at the L-L Cross Country Championships at Ephrata Middle School, she came in second among girls.
Later in October, at the District Three Class AAA Championships at Big Spring High School, Young ran a 19:11 to cop a silver medal.
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WEEK ENDING October 27
It is unclear whether or not qualifying for the postseason was enough for the Northern Lebanon field hockey squad. But what is certain is that Carrie Shuey played a key role in helping the Vikings get where they needed to go.
On Wednesday night at West Perry High School, Shuey and the 13th-seeded Vikings’ season reached a conclusion during a 4-1 setback to fourth-seeded Newport, in the opening round of the District Three Class AA playoffs. While Northern Lebanon’s journey was an up-and-down one, the big picture revealed that the fall was mostly a success for the Vikings.
And it was Shuey who led the way.
With advanced hand-eye skills, a nose for the ball and blossoming leadership abilities, Shuey paced Northern Lebaon in scoring during the fall of 2018. The fleet forward notched a total of 18 goals, and assisted on 15 other Viking scores.
huey had her hands in a remarkable 47 percent of the 70 total goals that the Northern Lebanon offense posted this year.
The Vikings, who registered some big wins on their way to recording a 12-6 overall mark, finished third in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
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WEEK ENDING October 20
There are pros and cons to the on-raging debate of specialization in scholastic sports. The answer may be somewhere in the middle, that the benefits of specialization may vary on an individual basis.
There are very little few doubts that Gage Kral has benfitted from focusing on one particular athletic discipline.
On Tuesday afternoon at Ephrata Middle School, that was blatanly apparent for Krall, during the annual running of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Cross Country Championships. A former two-sport competitor who also used to play soccer in the fall, the Northern Lebanon junior was the top Lebanon County finisher among male individuals at the league meet.
The gutsy Krall covered the up-and-down, 3.1-mile course in 16:40.5 to come in a satisfying eighth overall. The seven runners who finished ahead of Krall were all seniors.
Krall’s performance was just ticks off his personal best time.
Krall went out hard, and when the lead pack picked up the pace, he went with it. Although he didn’t finish as strong as the seniors ahead of him, Krall was within striking distance when the end of the race came into view.
Krall has also qualified for the District Three championships, which will be contested on October 27th at Big Spring High School.
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WEEK ENDING October 13
There have been others. But it may have been the most important goal that Anya Kissinger has scored to date.
One is left with the distinct impression that are more, important goals to come.
On Tuesday afternoon in Myerstown, Kissinger came up with a big one. The Raider forward tallied the only goal in Elco’s 1-0 triumph over Annville-Cleona, a win that would prove to be imperative in the Raiders claiming their first Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship in 24 years, later in the week.
Kissinger’s game-winner against the Little Dutchmen was set up by teammate Abbie Keath, from the top of the circle, with 1:25 remaining in the first half. Keath dumped the ball down low to Kissinger stationed on the left post of the A-C cage, and Kissinger made no mistakes, sweeping the ball into the goal.
For Kissinger, it was her team-leading 13th goal of the season, to go along with two assists. Elco clinched the Section Three crown on Friday, with a 2-2 tie at Lancaster Country Day.
Kissinger and the Raiders will now ride the wave of momentum created by the section championship into the upcoming Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class A playoff tournaments.
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WEEK ENDING October 6
One must always be cautious when singling out individuals in a team sport.
Hanna Lewis is not a one-person show. Let’s just say that Lewis has been doing more than her share.
This week, Lewis’ prolific scoring season picked up steam, as the Cedar Crest field hockey team continued its push for a postseason berth. On Tuesday at Ed and Jeannie Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium, Lewis, a senior forward for the Falcons, netted her 22nd goal of the fall, during a 4-1 setback at the hands of Manheim Township.
That total is believed to be one of the top goal-outputs in a season, in the history of the Cedar Crest field hockey program.
Lewis has done her damage this season with unrelenting hustle, a knack for positioning – being in the right place at the right time – superior hand-eye coordination and a booming shot. Lewis plans to take her field hockey talents to Lafayette next fall.
Through this week, Lewis and the Falcons sported an 8-8 overall mark and were very much in contention for a District Three Class AAA playoff spot.
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WEEK ENDING September 29
Located in Quentin, Fairview is a fine 6,011-yard, par-71 test of one’s golfing skills. Although she had heard of it, she had never played it, seen it or even walked it before.
But there’s a good chance, Kelsey McConaghy will be back again.
On Thursday at Fairview Golf Course, McConaghy copped the girls’ individual title at the annual Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championships. McConaghy fired a 41 over Fairview’s front-nine, besting Cedar Crest’s Emma Dissinger by three strokes, in an event that was shortened by impending weather.
Playing Fairview for the first time in her life, the Palmyra senior found the course very much to the liking of her long game. But on this particular day, McConaghy’s short game was dead-on as well.
Employing her length, McConaghy birdied two of Fairview’s par-fives on the front. Her 41 helped Palmyra to a second-place showing in the team portion of the tournament.
It was the second Lebanon County individual crown for McConaghy, who is undecided about pursuing the sport in college. It also served as a bit of a redemption for McConaghy, who had enjoyed a somewhat sub-par performance at the Mid-Penn Conference tournament earlier in the season.
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WEEK ENDING September 22
The Elco field hockey team is so hungry for a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship that the Raiders can almost taste it. And what’s making the quest so special is that the Raiders are doing it together, as a unit.
But it is captain Abby Keath who is leading the way.
This week, Keath was the catalyst, as Elco notched two key victories in that quest.
On Tuesday afternoon at Northern Lebanon High School, Keath potted a pair of goals – including the game-winner – when the Raiders shaded the rival Vikings 3-2 in overtime.
Three minutes into the extra session, Keath tallied the decisive goal by using a hesitation move to create space and beat the Northern Lebanon goalie. Earlier in the contest, late in the first half, Keath had scored Elco’s second goal with a hard rush down the right side of the field.
Then on Wednesday at Annville-Cleona, Keath came up with an assist in the Raiders’ important 2-1 decision over the Little Dutchmen.
During the week, Elco went 2-0-1, to improve to 5-0-1 on the season and take over first place in Section Three.
In addition to her important goals, Keath leads the Raiders in assists. To this point of the season, eight different Elco players have found the back of the cage.
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WEEK ENDING September 15
Because she aspires to larger accomplishments, she looked at it as a stepping stone. But that didn’t stop Lily Brubaker from reveling in a Lebanon County championship.
On Saturday morning at Gloninger Woods Park, Brubaker captured the individual female title at the annual Lebanon County Cross Country Championships. It was the Elco senior’s second such championship in three years.
And Brubaker did it in decisive fashion.
Brubaker covered the mostly flat 3.1-mile course in 18:41.8. It was a time that was Brubaker’s personal-best by about a minute and it was 57 seconds faster than runner-up Marissa Mull of Palmyra.
Brubaker got off to a fast start and established a little breathing room by the top of Gloninger Woods Park’s first hill. From there, she steadily increased her advantage to a point where she was competing against herself.
Two years ago, Brubaker captured her first Lebanon County title at Annville-Cleona high school. Last year, she finished second at the meet.
Next month, Brubaker will be seeking to improve on her fifth-place finish at last season’s District Three race.
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WEEK ENDING September 8
The Lebanon High football team may have found its quarterback. But more importantly, the Cedars may have found a home.
On one glorious Friday night at Lebanon Alumni Stadium, everything came together for the Cedars. Behind new starting quarterback Isiaiah Rodriguez, Lebanon recorded its first Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three win ever, in a big way, with a 58-26 beat down of Pequea Valley.
Rodriguez, who has been thrust into the limelight by the relocation of incumbent senior Zakee Sailsman, paced Lebanon’s 472-yard offensive explosion. Rodriguez completed 13 of 16 pass attempts for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and also gained 19 yards on the ground.
Rodriguez’s 37-yard scoring strike to Alex Rufe opened the scoring and gave the Cedars a 6-0 lead early in the opening quarter. Then near the start of the second stanza, the sophomore signal-caller found Kaden Harbaugh with a 52-yard touchdown toss that upped Lebanon’s advantage to 27-0.
Eventually, the Cedars’ lead reached 44-0.
In addition to being Lebanon High’s initial victory of the season, it was also one of the Cedars’ most lop-sided triumphs in recent memory.
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WEEK ENDING September 1
There is no quarterback controversy at Annville-Cleona. Junior Bours and Josh Speraw are competitive teammates who want the same things.
But right now, Bours gives the Little Dutchmen the best chance to win.
On Thursday night at Octorara High School in Chester County, it was Bours who led A-C to their first triumph of the season, a 39-30 victory over the home-standing Braves. While Speraw scored a pair of Little Dutchmen touchdowns, Bours had his hand in Annville-Cleona’s other four, a couple with his legs and a pair with his arm.
Bours also ran in two touchdowns, and tossed a two more. A junior, Bours’ two pass completions both went for long touchdowns and he piled up 92 yards rushing on ten keepers.
Bours’ 49-yard scoring strike to Tyler Long in the first period gave the Little Dutchmen an early 6-0 cushion. His 50-yard touchdown toss to Jalen Price late in the third period pushed Annville-Cleona’s lead to 39-16.
But it was Bours’ earlier three-yard scamper into the end zone which would prove to be the game-winner. Just before halftime, Bours had ripped off a 76-yard touchdown jaunt that gave the Little Dutchmen a 26-10 lead.
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WEEK ENDING August 25
When to run?
When to pass?
Who to throw it to?
Who to hand it off to?
When to change a play?
What to change it to?
Decision. Decisions. Decisions.
Playing quarterback in the Palmyra football team’s offense is all about decisions. But through his grasp of attack concepts, Grant Haus has evolved into a superior decision-maker.
On Friday night at Buck Swank Stadium, Haus’ decision-making played a key role in the Cougars’ 21-17 season-opening victory over rival Hershey. Haus was his usual proficient self, as he tallied a pair of touchdowns with his feet, including the late game-winner.
With just over a minute remaining and Palmyra trailing 17-14, Haus ran one in from two yards away to get his Cougars’ season off on the right foot. Late in the opening period, Haus had staked Palmyra to a 7-0 advantage with a similar two-yard plunge.
For the game, Haus had his hands in 206 of the Cougars’ 292 total yards. The senior signal-caller completed 11 of his 20 pass attempts for 178 yards, to four different receivers.
In the spring, Haus is also one of the most accomplished boys’ lacrosse players in the area.
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WEEK ENDING August 18
What is your favorite kind of links’ fowl? Big birds or little birdies?
In the game of golf, they all count the same. But if Mike Potts had a preference, it would be the short ones.
On Saturday morning at par-72, 5,734-yard Pine Meadows Golf Course, during the opening round of the 30th annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament, Potts was on fire, but more with his irons than his blade.
Potts scored six birdies – mostly from short range – to help him and partner Jesse Brown to the first-round lead at the Lebanon County Golf Association’s most popular event. Sticking approach shot after approach shot close to the pin, Potts and Brown fired a blistering eight-under par 64 to take a three-shot advantage into the second and final day of the 36-hole event.
After starting on Pine Meadows’ Number Six test, Potts closed out his team’s round with short birdies at Numbers One and Five. He also converted short birdies at Numbers Eight and 15.
In addition, Potts chipped in for birdie at the par-five, tenth hole.
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WEEK ENDING August 11
There are many athletes who receive recognition locally for what they have done, for the things they have accomplished. Then there are those rare athletes who can be recognized for what they are about to achieve.
Logan Horn is one of those special athletes whose contributions are a known quantity.
Horn is a senior quarterback for the Cedar Crest football team. As they continue to prepare for the upcoming 2018 fall campaign, Horn may hold the key to the Falcons’ success this year.
Horn will be one of the local players to watch, as the Lebanon County scholastic season unfolds. If there was such a thing as a ‘Player of the Year’ award locally, Horn would be the favorite for it.
Horn is entering his fourth season as the starting quarterback in South Lebanon. At the quarterback position, Horn is known as a dual threat – he’s equally adept at passing as he is at throwing.
But hat may be even more important to the Falcons’ fortunes is what Horn does in the areas of poise, leadership, understanding of the offense and ball protection.
Horn is seemingly good at whatever he does. In the winter, he is an accomplished guard for the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team and in the spring he stars as a shortstop and pitcher for the Falcons on the diamond.
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WEEK ENDING August 4
Ben Clary is on a mission. It is a mission to become the absolute best tennis player he can be.
It is a mission that has always been linked to Jack Muriaka.
On Friday night, Clary defeated Muriaka to earn the singles’ championship of the 51st annual Mount Gretna Men’s Tennis Club’s prestigious tournament. Clary captured the first of the three-set final match 6-2, before Muriaka retired due to an oblique injury.
It was the Palmyra High School junior-to-be’s first singles’ title at Mount Gretna. It also avenged a straight-set loss to Muriaka in last year’s Gretna championship match.
It was also a different result than May’s District Three Class AAA semifinal scholastic match, which was won by Muriaka, a student at Cedar Crest. Clary’s rivalry with Muriaka can be traced to his freshman season at the Lebanon County Scholastic Championships, and the friendly rivals have met in a handful of important matches since.
At the Lebanon County tournament, Clary and Muriaka have split their last two championship meetings.
Also this spring, Clary was crowned the Mid-Penn Conference’s Class AAA singles’ champion for the second straight season. Over the past two scholastic regular seasons, the hard-stroking righthander has not dropped a match.
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WEEK ENDING July 28
His teammates call him ‘filthy’ and ‘dirty’. And to Travis Weaver they are the highest compliments he could be paid.
When his Richland mates do, they’re referring to his pitching. But Weaver can hit a little bit too.
On Thursday of this week, Richland’s best all-around player continued to shine. Weaver, a veteran corner infielder and pitcher, was clearly on top of his game during Post 880’s 6-5, season-ending defeat to Waynesboro, in the semifinals of the rain-shortened, eight-team, single-elimination Region Four American Legion baseball tournament, which was moved to Shippensburg’s Memorial Field.
Facing a 5-0 deficit in a suspended game, Weaver’s pitching kept the Lebanon County champions within striking distance and gave them a chance to win. Over the remainder of the contest, Weaver tossed four-and-two-thirds innings of two-hit, one-run ball.
He whiffed seven and walked two. The hard-throwing, right-hander fanned the first five Waynesboro batters he faced.
But Richland just couldn’t muster enough offense to turn Weaver’s performance into a victory.
Six days earlier at Hanover’s Diller Field, Weaver had pitched Post 880 to a 9-1 triumph over Upper Dauphin in the opening round of the Region Four event. In that particular contest, Weaver struck out seven, walked four and surrendered five hits, before reaching his pitch limit in the top of the seventh inning.
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WEEK ENDING July 21
Locate. Mix your pitches. Hit your spots. Get ahead in the count. Keep batters off balance. Pitch to contact. Trust your defense.
Young Brandon Breidegan is so much more than a thrower, he’s a pitcher. And when Breidegan was on the mound, Fredericksburg had a chance.
On Sunday evening at Fredericksburg’ Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Breidegan earned a no-decision, as his F-burg side dropped a 6-5, eight-inning affair to Richland, in the second championship game of the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league’s six-team, double-elimination tournament. But after the contest, Breidegan earned the Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine award for his outstanding pitching during the local summer league’s postseason.
Against Richland’s potent lineup, the 16-year-old righthander’s quality start helped Fredericksburg jump out to a 5-2, fifth-inning lead. But Breidegan was lifted in the sixth and his relief could not hold the lead.
Earlier in the tournament, Breidegan had twirled a three-hit, 5-0 shutout of Annville at Earl Wenger Memorial Field. In that particular contest, Breidegan kept his pitch count below 80, struck out two and walked three.
WEEK ENDING July 14
What’s the different between expectations and hope?
He didn’t have great expectations for the Lebanon County Senior Amateur Golf Championships. But that doesn’t mean Eric Boltz didn’t have hope.
On Friday afternoon at the par-71, 6,305-yard Fairview Golf Course in Quentin, Boltz was the surprise winner during the 31st annual contesting of Lebanon County senior amateur golf championship. That he was crowned the champion may have more of a surprise to him than the rest of the 23-contestant field.
The only player not over par, Boltz fired a steady 71 to post a two-stroke victory. It was the first major golf title for the 50-something Boltz, a semi-regular on the local amateur circuit.
On this particular day, par was a good score for Boltz, as well as the entire field. He carded 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey, by utilizing a deft touch around the greens.
Boltz suffered his only bogey of the day when he flew his second shot at the 319-yard, par-four tenth hole, and then couldn’t get up and down. But he got over it quickly, when a birdie putt on the par-four 11th hole was true from six feet away.
WEEK ENDING July 7
There is no substitute for experience. But neither is there a substitute for hustle.
Cameron Hoch combines both. And when he does the Annville legion baseball team benefits, through Hoch’s leadership by example.
This week, Hoch continued to lead Annville’s charge to the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league’s postseason. The veteran catcher played a direct role in A-ville’s dramatic 8-7 extra-inning triumph over Fifth Ward, Thursday at A-C High School.
Hoch provided the winning hit in Annville’s walk-off victory, capping a furious five-run, eighth-inning rally from a four-run deficit. An at-bat earlier, it was Hoch who had forced ‘bonus baseball’ with a run-producing double that knotted the score at three.
Hoch was also became the winning pitcher in the game, as Annville closed its regular season at 8-7.
Also a one-time football star for Annville-Cleona High School, Hoch was the 2017 recipient of the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania State Hall of Fame’s Pop Kelchner award for excellence in scholastic athletics and the class room.
WEEK ENDING June 30
On the golf course, confidence and aggressiveness walk hand-in-hand. Tyler Massar didn’t play to lose the 60th annual Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship, he aggressively tried to win it.
On Sunday over Blue Mountain Golf Course’s 6,059-yard, par-71 layout, Massar’s confident approach produced his first County Amateur title. The 24-year-old Palmyra Middle School teacher fired a five-under par 66 over his second day of competition – the lowest round in the tournament – for a two-day total of 136, or six-under par, three shots lower than Dan Brown, John DiGiacomo and Steve Allwein.
Massar had carded a one-under 70 during Saturday’s opening round, and entered Sunday in second place. But over the final round, Massar certainly grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns.
Battling the eventual runners-up down the stretch, Massar emerged victorious with short birides at Blue Mountain’s par-three 12th, par-four 14th and par-three 16th. Massar also began his second round aggressively, in the form of birdies at numbers four, seven and eight.
Massar’s total of 136 tied the Lebanon County Amateur record for the lowest winning score at Blue Mountain. It also tied for the lowest winning score of any Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship ever.
WEEK ENDING June 23
Fredericksburg’s Michigan Daub. Annville’s Cameron Hoch. Campbelltown’s Brian Coburn. Richland’s Joe Carpenter.
There are some gifted athletes playing baseball in the Lebanon County American Legion League this summer.
But no one is more valuable to his team that Hayden Johnson is to Fredericksburg.
Johnson is versatile, instintive and gives it his all the time. But what separates him from the rest of the players in the local summer baseball league is his ability to get on base, disrupt a pitcher’s focus and run the bases.
F-burg’s lead-off hitter, the veteran Johnson exhbits patience, a good eye and a level swing at the plate. When he does get on, Johnson is always a threat to steal a base, and ultimately to score a run.
This week, Johnson was in the middle of Fredericksburg’s 6-5 win at Annville on Thursday. Though he didn’t get the win, Johnson started on the mound, pitched well and scored the run that gave Fredericksburg a late 5-3 advantage – on a double, advancing on a ground ball and scoring on a wild pitch.
In addition to his pitching duties and offensive-generation skills, Johnson is also a talented middle infielder, a fierce competitor and an unsung leader.
WEEK ENDING June 16
Initially, it hurt. It hurt like crazy. But it didn’t take long for the shock to wear off, and when it did the pain evaporated.
Alex Shutter ‘wore on’ and took one for the team. And it never felt so good.
On Tuesday night at Myerstown Legion baseball field, Shutter starred in the role of hero when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and the score tied in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving the home team a thrilling 12-11 triumph over Fredericksburg. Shutter’s RBI-HBP capped Myerstown’s three-run rally in the bottom of the final inning.
It was also Shutter who, an inning earlier, had pulled M-town to within 11-9 of the lead, with a clutch two-out, two-run double. It was Shutter’s second two-bagger of the game and he finished with three RBIs.
With his constant effort, toughness and all-out hustle, the youthful Shutter continues to epitomize the type of culture the Myerstown legion baseball program is attempting to foster.
WEEK ENDING June 9
Perhaps the Palmyra boys’ volleyball team overachieved. Maybe it arrived ahead of schedule. Or perhaps the Cougars just came together sooner than expected.
But no matter the reason, Tyler Sheaffer was in the middle of everything.
On Tuesday evening at Cumberland Valley High School, Sheaffer and the Cougars had their spring season ended by powerful Northeastern. The Bobcats took three straight games from the Cougars, 25-22, 25-11 and 25-18.
But what a season it was. The loss came in the semifinal round of the PIAA Class AA tournament and the campaign represented the most successful in the short history of Lebanon County boys’ volleyball.
As he has been for most of the season, Sheaffer showed the way for Palmyra. The junior blocker/hitter recorded eight kills, six digs and two blocks.
Sheaffer was especially active in the opening game, when Palmyra threw a scare into Northeastern. Sheaffer and Palmyra led early in that game and fought tirelessly throughout, before running out of steam at the end.
The Cougars, who finished third in the District Three tournament, concluded their surprsing campaign at 17-5 overall. In just their fourth year of competing in the sport, the Cougars had not dropped a state-playoff game in advancing to the semifinals.
WEEK ENDING June 2
He does it all.
He shoots. He scores. He assists. He defends. He mixes it up. He leads.
But there is absolutely, positively no truth to the rumor that Grant Haus drives the Palmyra boys’ lacrosse team’s bus as well.
On Tuesday evening at State College’s Memorial Field, Haus and his Cougars’ historic boys’ lacrosse season reached a conclusion with a 13-6 loss to District Seven champion Mars, in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AA tournament. But don’t blame Haus. For he was his usual spectacular self.
From his attack position, Haus netted four goals in Palmyra’s season-ending setback. That four-goal explosion gave Haus 72 for his junior season, to go along with 35 assists, and 140 goals for his career.
Palmyra’s 22-win season, District Three runner-up finish and advancement to the second round of the state playoffs represented the most prolific season in the brief history of Lebanon County boys’ lacrosse. And the Cougars simply couldn’t have done it without Haus’ contributions.
In the fall season, Haus was also a productive quarterback for the Palmyra football squad.
WEEK ENDING May 26
In the beginning, Kirstin West wasn’t even sure she wanted to go out for the sport, she had a hard time envisioning herself as a track-and-field student-athlete. Or even which event she might be good at.
But she made herself vulnerable, put herself out there, and through perseverance discovered her niche. It was because of that same spirit that West became the best javelin thrower she could be.
On Saturday afternoon at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, West capped an outstanding scholastic career by earning a bronze medal in the Class AAA javelin, at the PIAA Track and Field Championships. The Palmyra senior’s third-place showing was the shiniest medal earned by a Lebanon County competitor at the state meet.
Seeded 14th entering the competition, West uncorked a 134-6 on her initial heave of the preliminaries to earn the distinction. Earlier in the season, she had gone into the 137s, with her best throw.
Throughout her career, West has garnered more than 15 medals for javelin throwing, on the Lebanon County, Mid-Penn Conference, District Three and PIAA levels. She is the reigning Lebanon County champion in the event.
Also an accomplished volleyball player, West plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, where she will explore further horizons in javelin.
WEEK ENDING May 19
Stanley Miller is quite the character. Warm, engaging and humble, Miller never takes himself or his accomplishments too seriously.
He is a better person than he is a track-and-field student-athlete – and that’s saying something.
On Saturday at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, Miller showed exactly what type of sprinter he is at the 94th annual District Three Class AA Track and Field Championships. The Annville-Cleona senior struck gold in his signature event – the 200-meter dash – after finishing as the runner-up in the 100-meter dash.
In the afternoon, Miller got out of the blocks quickly in the 200-meter dash final and enjoyed a slight lead through the turn. He had enough left in the tank to out lean his competition at the tape.
Earlier in the day, Miller had finished second by a whisker in the 100 final. The second seeded Miller battled the entire way before being nudged by Brendan Sparr of Schuylkill Valley by .18 of a second at the end.
The sprint medals represented half of the four Miller earned on the weekend. He took seventh in the Class AA long jump and anchored the Annville-Cleona team to a seventh-place showing in the 400-meter relay.
Miller, who’s also an accomplished soccer player, plans to attend Liberty University in the fall and hopes to compete in track and field there.
WEEK ENDING May 12
Head up, long strides, little wasted effort. When Gwyneth Young moves, it is an exercise in efficient motion.
Young has been working on her running form for the better part of a year now, all with the hopes that it will pay off with results.
This weekend at Hempfield High School, Young reaped the benefits of that hard work – as well as her guts and determination – at the annual Lancaster-Lebanon Track and Field Championships. The Cedar Crest freshman copped a pair of bronze medals, in the league meets’ two distance events.
On Friday evening, Young posted a 10:57.91 in the 3200-meter run, a time that was faster than any other Lancaster-Lebanon girl had ever run in the event in prior years. But it was a feat that the two competitors in front of her – Jamie Zamrin of Cocalico and Warwick’s Kate Dickow – also accomplished.
Then on Saturday morning, Young returned to Hempfield and again finished third, in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:05.85. Young executed her plan of keeping the front-runners, Katie Locker of Elizabethtown and Lianna Tirado of McCaskey, in her sights the entire way.
Now it’s on to the District Three Class AAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium for Young, where she’s seeded fifth in the 3200 and 12th in the 1600.
WEEK ENDING MAY 5
Brian Coburn has grown up quickly on the baseball diamond. He is one of the brightest and most talented young players in Lebanon County, and all of Central Pennsylvania, for that matter.
Coburn can hit, field, pitch and run the bases. He has – and continues to – do it all for the Palmyra baseball team.
This week, Coburn was again one of the key cogs in the Cougars’ on-going drive towards what would be an unexpected Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division championship. The sophomore has contributed to Palmyra this season at shortstop, as a lead-off hitter and on the mound.
But with his humble attitude and calm demeanor, Coburn has also turned into a leader for the Cougars, despite his modest age.
After going 1-1 this week, Coburn and the Cougars sport an overall record of 13-3 and an 11-1 mark in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn.
With Coburn showing the way, don’t be surprised if Palmyra makes some significant noise in the upcoming District Three Class AAAAA tournament.
WEEK ENDING APRIL 28
Shayla Bonzelet enjoyed an absolutely fabulous Lebanon County Track and Field meet on Saturday.
It was a performance worthy of an Oustanding Athlete award. It was just that teammate Hannah Woelfling was a little more worthy.
On Saturday at Lebanon County’s annual celebration of track and field, Bonzelet was on top of her game, and the result was three first-place finishes.
The Cedar Crest sprinter blazed to victory in the 100-meter dash, in a time of 13.15 seconds. Then in the 200, Bonzelet replicated the feat with a gold medal in 26.99
In between, in the 400-meter relay competition, she ran the second leg of the Falcons’ triumphant squad, one that also included Hannah McCurdy, Gabby Warfield and DeAsia Holloman. They combined to run a 51:19.
Individually, Bonzelet tallied more than 22 team points to boost Cedar Crest’s position in the team standings. Collectively, the Falcons won the team event by out-distancing runner-up Palmyra.
April Showers bring May flowers.
The Northern Lebanon has planted the seed. Now the Vikings are hoping to reap what they have sewn.
Following a slow start to a cold spring, the Vikings’ process continued to pick up steam this week. And Showers was in the middle of everything.
On Monday afternoon, Showers hurled Northern Lebanon to a key 11-0 shutout of Lebanon County rival Annville-Cleona, in a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover contest. In that game, the hard-throwing right-hander stifled the Little Dutchmen on four hits, fanned three and issued a single free pass.
On Friday night at Paradise Park, Showers was again sharp, but the Vikings dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Pequea Valley. Showers struck out eight, walked one and again yielded four hits, but the home team pushed across the decisive run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
During Wednesday’s 8-1 home triumph over Lancaster Mennonite, it was Showers who got Northern Lebanon off on the right foot, with a two-run ‘long ball’ in the third inning that snapped a score-less deadlock.
Thanks in part to Showers’ efforts, Northern Lebanon enjoyed a 3-1 week, which left it 4-4 overall, after starting the season 1-3.
WEEK ENDING April 14
No one on the Palmyra softball team enjoys hoisting the ‘L’ flag. But no Cougar hates losing more than Abbey Krahling.
Not just a competitor, Krahling is an emerging hitter, an improving pitcher, and most importantly, an aspiring – and inspiring – leader for the Cougars.
Although the Cougars continued to search for consistency this week, Krahling remained the foundation upon which future successes could be constructed.
On Saturday afternoon, Krahling was spot on from the mound, as the Cougars dropped a tough 2-1 home decision to rival Hershey. The junior right-hander struck out seven, yielded four hits, walked one and neither of the runs she surrendered were earned.
But the effort was typical of a week that saw Palmyra go 2-2, and a season in which it has posted a 3-3 overall mark.
On Thursday after school, Krahling and the Cougars had posted a 4-0 home victory over Central Dauphin East. There was also a 5-4 triumph over Big Spring on Monday and a 10-4 loss to Mechanicsburg on Tuesday.
But moving forward, for Palmyra and Krahling to reach their full potential, they’ll have to harness some level of consistency.
WEEK ENDING April 7
In softball, if you’ve got a good pitcher in the circle, you’ve always got a chance. It’s a proposition that the Annville-Cleona softball team has lived on over the years, one that the Little Dutchmen have built a program on.
Kaila Grubb is a good pitcher.
This week, Grubb helped Annville-Cleona get off to a good start, in what has been a cold spring season, with her arm – and her bat.
On Thursday after school, Grubb pitched the Little Dutchmen to a 9-4 victory over Lancaster Catholic. She went the distance on an eight-hitter, fanned nine and didn’t issue a free pass.
In her support, Grubb’s Little Dutchmen teammates scored two runs in the top of the fourth, then pieced together a decisive six-run rally in the fifth.
A day later, in Annville-Cleona’s home opener, Grubb contributed to an 11-6 triumph over Lancaster Mennonite with her speed and stick. She was a disruptive terror on the base paths and also added an RBI.
WEEK ENDING March 31
It was the type of power display that has the ability to warm Falcon fans’ hearts, on even the coldest spring days. And Joseph Carpenter was at the forefront of the offensive explosion.
Just call him the leader of the ‘Bash Brothers’.
On a cool Monday afternoon at Cedar Crest High School, Carpenter led the Falcon baseball club to a 16-2 dismantling over Northern Lebanon, in both Lebanon County teams’ season opener. With Carpenter raking at the plate, Cedar Crest scored eight times in the first inning, then added two more runs in the second and five in the third, and never looked back.
The game was shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
Carpenter, a senior first baseman, began his year red-hot, going four-for-four at the plate. Included in his afternoon were two doubles and a triple. A Delaware University recruit, Carpenter hit .317 for Cedar Crest as a junior.
But the Falcons are expecting even more from Carpenter this year, as they seek continued improvement on the diamond. Carpenter should hit in the middle of a Cedar Crest order that is loaded with good batters.
Last summer, Carpenter also competed for the Richland entry in the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League.
WEEK ENDING March 24
It was one filled with excitement, and just the right amount of conflict. It featured thrills and heartache, and included team and personal accomplishments.
But the most important part of Alexis Hill’s career was that potential was realized through hard work.
On Saturday at Downingtown West High School, the Lebanon Catholic senior’s fabulous scholastic career came to an end, with a 50-46 loss to Jenkintown in the semifinals of the PIAA Class A playoffs. In her final high school game, Hill tallied a game-high 16 points and pulled down a handful of caroms, but it wasn’t enough to avoid heartache.
During the winter, Hill scored at an 18.5 points per game clip and converted 91 of 155 charity tosses. Lebanon Catholic ended its year 25-7.
Hill will always be remembered as one of the most athletic female players to ever grace the Lebanon County hardwoods. She finished her career with 1,782 career points, a total that ranks her among the most prolific in the history of both Lebanon Catholic and Lebanon County girls’ basketball.
Last season, Hill was named the state Class A Player of the Year after leading the Beavers to the PIAA championship. Hill will continue her athletic and academic careers at Division One Northeast University in Boston.
WEEK ENDING March 17
Celine Mars enjoys flying under the radar. She likes her actions to speak for her.
Mars does all the little things on the court – finishing around the rim, picking up a teammate when she’s down and playing smothering defense. But they are things that are absolutely essential for the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team’s drive to a second state championship.
This week, as she usually is, Mars was in the middle of two key Beaver victories.
On Tuesday evening at Milton Hershey School’s Spartan Center, Mars rang up 14 points in Lebanon Catholic’s 54-24 drubbing of Greenwood, in the second round of the PIAA Class A postseason. Then on Saturday afternoon at Garden Spot High School, Mars contributed 11 points to the Beavers’ 50-33 handling of The Christian Academy, in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.
For the season, Mars is averaging right around eight points a game, with over a hundred field goals and forty made foul shots.
WEEK ENDING March 10
PIAA wrestling medals are a rare commodity in the state of Pennsylvania. They are even more precious for Lebanon County competitors.
Colin Leonard has joined an elite group.
On Saturday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, Leonard joined only a handful of local wrestlers who have earned state wrestling medals, when he finished eighth in the Class AA 126-pound bracket at the PIAA Championships. The Northern Lebanon junior was beaten 12-1 by Jeremy Hanford of Warrior Run, in the seventh-place bout at 126.
But Leonard’s performance over the three days of the state tournament helped him realize a lifelong goal. It also paved the way for what should be an even more impressive senior campaign next year.
Leonard had assured himself of a PIAA medal on Friday, with a 3:17 fall in the third round of consolations.
Leonard opened his tournament on Thursday, by decking Nick Ooosterkamp in the first period of the first-round bout. But he was relegated to the consolation bracket by a tough 3-2 loss to A.J. Burkhart of Athens in the quarterfinals.
Leonard, the District Three Class AA champion at 126, went 2-3 at the state championships and finished his 11th-grade season at 49-8.
WEEK ENDING March 3
From wide-eyed freshman to key contributor as a sophomore. What lies ahead is team leader and go-to-girl.
It should be very interesting to see how the rest of Zara Zerman’s scholastic career unfolds.
This week, Zerman’s development as a player and leader continued, and it was one of the main factors in helping the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team reaching the state playoffs for a third straight year.
On Tuesday evening at Hershey High School, during a District Three Class AAAA play-in game, Zerman and the Vikings defeated West Perry 51-38. In that contest, the sophomore guard poured in a game-high 20 points, on two three-pointers and six-for-ten free throwing.
Then two nights later at Cumberland Valley High School, during a seeding game for the state playoffs, Zerman led Northern Lebanon to a 35-22 triumph over Kennard-Dale. She posted 19 points, courtesy of a three-pointer and two-for-two foul shooting.
To date, it has been a spectacular sophomore campaign for Zerman. She is averaging 15 points per outing, has drilled more than 30 three-point field goals and is shooting 77 percent from the free throw line.
WEEK ENDING Feb. 24
Blaise Bressler is a senior. Time is of the essence.
He’s just going to go for it, because he wants to go out with a bang.
On Saturday at Hershey’s Giant Center, Bressler came up with a huge career accomplishment when he won the 160-pound weight-class title at the District Three Class AA wrestling championships. Bressler bested Austin Taylor of Susquehanna Township 5-2 in the title bout, for the second straight week.
Bressler tallied three second-period points, on an escape and a take-down. Then in the final stanza, Bressler padded his advantage with another take-down, 30 seconds in.
Bressler had reached the finals at 160 with a 5:13 semifinal pin of Fairfield’s Colton Schriner, after decking Trey Donmoyer of Elco at the 1:52 mark in their quarterfinal bout.
But the best may be yet to come for Bressler. The district championship put him in great position for next weekend’s Class AA Southeast Regional tournament, the qualifying event for the impending PIAA postseason back at Hershey’s Giant Center,
WEEK ENDING Feb. 17
Olivia Richardson has been a part of the Palmyra girls’ varsity basketball program for three years now. She’s seen some things, been through some wars.
Richardson has also lived through some transition and has experienced change. And in some ways, she has helped smooth that transition and carry on the Cougars’ family tradition.
Richardson is a 6-0 forward for Palmyra. She continues to enjoy an excellent junior campaign, one in which the Cougars have qualified for the District Three playoffs for the 16th straight year.
Though she’s come on as of late, Richardson has led the Cougars in scoring throughout, posting an average of more than 11 points per outing. On the year, Richardson is shooting at a 39 percent clip and is making nearly 84 percent of her free throws.
Richardson and Palmyra recently concluded the regular season with a sturdy 13-9 record. As the postseason approaches, the Cougars will be seeking a berth in the PIAA Class AAAAA tournament.
WEEK ENDING Feb. 10
Cole Laney has come a long way as a player and a person. His growth has not-so-coincidentally coincided with that of the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team.
A fearless penetrator, who’s comfortable around and above the rim, Laney has extended his game to include a deadly long-range jumper. But he’s also morphed into a player the Falcons can depend on and lean on.
This week, Laney and the Falcons warmed up for Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AAAAAA postseason contests with a key win against Section One opponent and rival Lebanon High.
On Tuesday at ‘The Falcon Cage’, during Crest’s regular-season finale, Laney dropped in a dozen points in CC’s 61-53 victory over the Cedars. The result marked Cedar Crest’s fourth win over Lebanon this season.
It also gave the Falcons an 18-4 final regular-season mark.
Laney will be counted on heavily as Cedar Crest seeks an L-L championship and a deep postseason run. During the regular year, the 6-5 senior forward has pumped in more than 14 points per game, been a consistent free-throw shooter and rebounder and led the Falcons in three-pointers.
Laney also enjoyed a productive fall on the gridiron, his first for the Falcons.
WEEK ENDING Feb. 3
t’s been a back-and-forth, but mostly positive, season for the Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team. And through it all, Caleb Light has been a steadying influence for the Vikings.
This week, Light’s inspired play did not relent, as Northern Lebanon continued its push towards Lancaster-Lebanon League postseason and District Three Class AAAA playoff berths. In two key L-L Section Three tilts, Light contributed 28 points to the Vikings cause, while going six-for-nine at the free throw line and tossing in a pair of three-point buckets.
Throughout the campaign, Light has been there for the Vikings when they needed him most. He leads with his heady play, his defense and overall court savvy.
At the end of this week, Northern Lebanon was sitting at 15-6 overall and in third place in Section Three of the L-L.
For the winter, Light is scoring at a 17 points-per-game click that ranks him sixth in the Lancaster-Lebanon League. The senior guard leads Northern Lebanon in three-pointers and is making his charity tosses at a 75 percent rate.
This fall. Light also starred on the gridiron for the Vikings, as a wide receiver and defensive back.
WEEK ENDING Jan. 27
Luis Negeriros just keeps winning, despite the fact that he’s not in the greatest of physical shape. Just think what will happen when he finally does round into shape.
On Saturday afternoon at Garden Spot High School, Negeriros claimed the 182-pound weight-class title at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Wrestling Championships. Winded and not in top physical condition, Negeriros defeated Garrett Fittery of Manheim Central 8-5 in the final bout at 182.
Against Fittery, Negeriros went to work in the second period and scored a take-down 30 seconds into the period. He ended the stanza with a 6-4 advantage, then outscored Fittery 2-1 in the final period.
Negeriros had reached the championship bout with a 3-0 shut out of Manheim Township senior Carter Hasson in their semifinal bout at 182 pounds. After receiving a bye, the top-seeded Negeriros decisioned Isiah Gantt of Conestoga Valley 14-7 in the quarterfinals.
Negeriros’ had returned to the Vikings’ lineup just three weeks prior, after recovering from an injury sustained during the football season. Going forward, Negeriros has a bright postseason future, but one that will hinge on how quickly he can get back into wrestling shape.
WEEK ENDING Jan. 20
Rachel Witherite is a connector, a transition facilitator, a segue. She has been the link between one phase of the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program and the next.
But do you know what else Witherite is? She’s a mentor, a coach on the floor, a leader.
This week, Witherite continued to lead the surprising Falcons to success. What the senior sharp-shooter learned from past Cedar Crest teams she has passed on to the current one.
Thanks in part to Witherite’s efforts, Cedar Crest enjoyed a 2-1 week. On Thursday night, Witherite collected a pair of three-point baskets to the Falcons’ 45-41 triumph at McCaskey.
On Friday evening at home, Witherite dropped in two more three-pointers during a 45-25 victory over Warwick. Then on Saturday night at ‘The Cage’, she was held to five points but contributed strong defense, as Cedar Crest fell 43-34 to Palmyra in a non-league clash.
Through the week, Witherite and the Falcons sported a 10-6 overall mark and a 7-2 record in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. For the season, Witherite has been the Falcons’ top scorer from three-point land.
During the spring, she brings the same qualities to the softball field for Cedar Crest.
WEEK ENDING Jan. 13
Jeff Lorah is the prototypical senior leader playing for the prototypical improving team. Sure the Elco boys’ basketball team needs him, but in some ways Lorah also needs the Raiders and the position he has been unintentionally been put in.
This week, Lorah continued his strong senior season, and Elco continued to show noticeable improvement. Those two phenomenon are related more than just on the surface.
Setting the tone, leading by example and contributing on the defensive end, Lorah netted a total of 28 points during the Raiders’ 2-1 week. The highlight of Lorah’s week came in an 84-48 home victory over Columbia on Tuesday night, when he struck for 19 points that included two three-point field goals and five-for-five foul shooting.
For the season, the senior guard is averaging 12 points per outing. He also leads the Raiders in three-point field goals, and is one of Elco’s top free throwers.
This fall, Lorah also starred on the gridiron for Elco, as a receiver and defensive back.
WEEK ENDING Jan. 6
Always putting it first, Neesha Pierre is the consummate team player.
But what she has discovered over the last four years is that by doing so, there are some pretty cool team honors that can come your way. And some very meaningful individual awards, as well.
On Tuesday evening on Assumption Hill, Pierre netted the 1,000th point of her career during the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team’s 81-55 triumph over Lancaster Mennonite. Needing ten points to reach the milestone, the 5-8 senior guard tallied a season-high 19 points.
Pierre got off to a fast start, pouring in nine points in the opening quarter. Then a minute into the second stanza, she picked up her 1,000-th point with a drive to the bucket with her right hand.
In so doing, Pierre became the 16th player in the illustrious history of Lebanon Catholic girls’ program to reach the plateau.
On Friday evening, Pierre went for 12 more points, during the reigning PIAA Class A champions’ 73-43 home win over Columbia. It was the Beavers’ sixth straight victory and left them 8-4 on the year and 4-1 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
For the season, Pierre is averaging more than 11 points per game.
WEEK ENDING Dec. 30
It’s been an up-and-down, back-and-forth, topsy-turvy season to this point for the Lebanon boys’ basketball. The Cedars have been, at best, inconsistent.
But the one person Lebanon has always been able to count on this winter has been Luis Aquino-Rios.
It was more of the same this week for the Cedars, as they went 1-1, despite the best efforts of its senior guard and leader.
On Thursday evening, during the opening game of the Cedar Crest Christmas tournament, Rios once again shined for Lebanon, pouring in a game-high 21 points to lead his squad to a 58-48 triumph over York Country Day. The following night, Rios struck for two three-pointers and ten total points, but the Cedars fell to the host Falcons 50-38 in the championship contest of the event.
The results left Lebanon 3-6 on the season.
Rios, a hard-working, passionate and heady player, continued to lead the Cedars in scoring with a points per game average right around 17. But he also contributes in the areas of defense, rebounding and overall floor leadership.
In addition, Rios was an accomplished player on the gridiron for Lebanon during the fall, piling up 1,085 total yards and 12 touchdowns.
WEEK ENDING Dec. 23
Liz Voight is steady. She’s a rock. A foundation.
Someone upon which to build success.
Voight has stepped in nicely to her role as a leader of the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team. She had some pretty good role models to follow.
This week, Voight helped the Vikings to a 3-0 slate, as Northern Lebanon continued to surprise with its inspired play.
On Monday night at home, Voight poured in 25 key points during the Vikings’ hard-earned 57-52 triumph over Lebanon Catholic. In that contest, Voight nailed a three-pointer and converted ten of 11 free throw attempts.
The senior guard followed that up on Wednesday evening with a 21-point performance, in a 51-39 victory at Columbia. Voight topped off her week with a 23-point outing at home on Friday night during a 65-53 win over Pequea Valley, one that included ten-for-ten shooting at the charity stripe.
Voight now leads Northern Lebanon in scoring with an average right around 18 points per outing. She is also the team leader in three-point field goals made and owns a free-throw percentage that is above 90 percent.
WEEK ENDING Dec. 16
Amelia Baldo brings a lot to the table for the Palmyra girls’ basketball. And she’s not above setting it as well.
Baldo’s all-around play has been a key to the Cougars’ early season success, which included going 4-0 this week.
The 5-7 junior guard contributed a total of 45 points, a handful of assists and stingy defense to the victories that lifted Palmyra to 6-0 on the year.
On Tuesday evening at home, Baldo netted 11 points in Palmyra’s 41-28 victory over Mechanicsburg. A night later, during a 50-18 road triumph over Hempfield, Baldo went for 15 points.
Then on Friday night in Palmyra, Baldo recorded another 11 points, in a 33-30 win over Susquehanna Township. She rounded out her productive week with an eight-point effort at Milton Hershey on Saturday afternoon.
Last week the fiery and cerebral guard, who helps mentor future Cougars at the younger levels, was named to the all-tournament team, when the Cougars captured the championship of the Northern Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament.
WEEK ENDING Dec. 9
It’s always a dicey proposition when singling out an individual in a team sport – especially when it comes to a squad as team-oriented as the Cedar Crest boys’.
Logan Horn was named the most valuable player at the Lebanon Booster Club’s Tip-Off Tournament. But it could’ve just as easily been Blake Thomson who walked away with the individual hardware.
With his decision-making, court savvy and overall play-making abilities, Thomson played a key role in helping the Falcons to the tournament championship. The senior guard tallied a total of 24 points in Cedar Crest’s two wins in the event.
During Saturday evening’s 49-46 victory over the host Cedars, Thomson struck for 11 points, including a three-pointer and two-for-two free throwing. On Friday night, Thomson went for 13 points, a three-pointer and four-for six at the foul line, as Cedar Crest nudged Elco 68-44 in its season opener.
The Falcons have high hopes for the 2017-18 campaign, and Thomson is one of the biggest reasons why.
WEEK ENDING Dec. 2
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
From a one-time state champion to a national champion. Boy, ddi she know how to pick a college.
Let’s just say that the Palmyra field hockey program prepared Jess Dembrowski well to compete at the next, very high level.
Dembrowski, a 2017 graduate of Palmyra High School, recently won an NCAA Division One national championship as a freshman with the University of Connecticut field hockey team. Late last month, Dembrowski and the Huskies defeated Maryland 2-1 at Trager Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.
The win completed UConn’s undefeated 23-0 season, and it was the Huskies’ third NCAA Division One national in the last five years. But their first one with Dembrowski in the fold.
As a rookie, Dembrowski started all 23 games for the Huskies, tallied seven goals and notched five assists. Two of Dembrwoski’s goals were game-winners.
Dembrowski’s teammate at Palmyra, Cheyenne Sprecher served as a freshman reserve goalkeeper for UConn this season.
WEEK ENDING Nov. 25
Three seasons ago, Sam Light may the decision to transfer from Millersville University to Lebanon Valley College, to play in front of the home folks and win a championship. And although the latter has yet to happen, he can’t be displeased with his decision.
Light is looking at his senior year as his last chance to make that championship happen.
On Tuesday night at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, Light and the Flying Dutchmen’s pursuit of that elusive title continued, with an 82-72 non-conference triumph over Elizabethtown. Though Lebanon Valley’s championship drive is still in its infancy, the outcome made it an impressive 4-0 this season.
As has become his custom, Light led the Flying Dutchmen in a number of ways. On nine-of-12 shooting from the field, the 6-0 guard out of Northern Lebanon poured in a game-high 22 points in 30 minutes of action, and also contributed seven rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Light also leads the Flying Dutchmen in three-pointers.
WEEK ENDING Nov. 18
It may have been his best game in his team’s worst. But each has progressed enough to extend the season.
The more time that Evan Horn spends with the New Hampshire University football program, the better they get.
On Saturday afternoon at Bob Ford Field in Albany, New York, Horn and the Wildcats closed out the 2017 regular season with a disappointing 15-0 loss to the University of Albany. But the good news for Horn and New Hampshire is that their fall will continue in the postseason.
Horn, a 2016 graduate of Cedar Crest and a red-shirt-freshman safety, was all over the field for the New Hampshire defense. Horn recorded his first career sack – one of his two tackles-for-loss on the day – and collected a total of three solo tackles and five assists.
This fall, Horn has become more and more involved in the Wildcat defense, logging 17 solos and 18 assists for 35 total tackles. The 6-0, 201-pound Horn has also picked off a pair of passes and broken up four others.
Next Saturday, Horn and the 7-4 Wildcats will host Central Connecticut State in the opening round of the NCAA Division One-FCS playoffs.
WEEK ENDING Nov. 11
The Northern Lebanon football squad turned big plays into a big season. And no one epitomized the Vikings’ big-play capabilities more than Christian Trader.
On a Week Eleven Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, Trader continued to show off his big-play, big-game skills, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Northern Lebanon from falling to Lampeter-Strasburg, 34-19 in the opening round of the PIAA District Three Class AAAA playoffs. It was two long Trader pass receptions in the first half that had the Vikings smelling upset.
First, Trader hauled in a 63-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Michigan Daub to stake the Vikings to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Then Trader scored on a 53-yard catch-and-run collaboration with Daub in the second period to put Northern Lebanon ahead 19-14.
For the game, Trader caught five balls for 182 yards.
Trader’s explosiveness helped the Vikings to the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship, their third in four seasons.
WEEK ENDING Nov. 4
It was a performance for the ages. The only thing that could detract from it was that it came in a loss.
On Friday night in Landisville, Lebanon junior quarterback Zakee Sailsman put on a spectacular individual show that won’t be forgotten in some time, during the Cedars’ season-ending 59-48 loss to Hempfield. Sailsman established a new Lancaster-Lebanon League record by accounting for an unbelievable 601 total yards of offense.
The electric Sailsman completed 34 of 46 pass attempts for 506 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 15 times for another 95 yards and three more scores.
In the first half, Sailsman completed two touchdown passes of 70 yards or more to Jeremiah Beckley. And with the Cedars trailing most of the evening, Sailsman tossed a pair of third-quarter scoring strikes to Luis Aquino-Rios that pulled Lebanon to within 42-35 of the Black Knights.
He finished the campaign with 185 completions in 308 attempts for 2392 yards and 22 touchdowns through the air. Sailsman also ran for nine scores.
WEEK ENDING Oct. 28
For the past three seasons, Lexie Smith has been part of three Palmyra field hockey teams that have reached the PIAA Class AAA championship game. Now a senior, Smith and the Cougars were destined to fall short of that lofty achievement.
But that doesn’t mean Smith didn’t use that experience to help this year’s edition of Palmyra become the best it could be.
On Saturday at Hempfield High School, Smith’s Cougars’ 2017 campaign came to a conclusion with a 3-0 loss to powerful Penn Manor, in the quarterfinals of the District Three Class AAA tournament. But it was Smith who had influenced the Cougars’ journey to get there.
Four days earlier at Penn Manor High School’s Comet Field, Smith had tallied the game-winning goal that moved Palmyra into the quarters. Her score, with seven minutes remaining, proved to be the difference, as the Cougars edged Warwick 3-2.
From the right portion of the circle, Smith lofted a high shot on the Warwick cage that landed at the goalie’s feet. With teammate Gabby Corricelli operating in the area, the ball squirted between the keeper’s pads and into the goal.
The goal was the 14th of Smith’s senior campaign.
Palmyra ended the season with a 13-6-1 overall mark.
WEEK ENDING Oct. 21
So, exactly what is a leader? A leader is a person who inspires others, a person who exhibits great character, someone who causes change.
Someone who shows the way.
On Tuesday afternoon at Ephrata Middle School, during the annual contesting of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Cross Country Championships, Jake Barrett exhibited all those qualities of a leader, and more. The Cedar Crest junior ran a solid sixth in the boys’ race.
But his performance also inspired his Falcon teammates to go faster, run further and achieve more. Following Barrett’s lead, Cedar Crest finished a surprising second as a team, behind only league champion Hempfield.
Barrett got out to a fantastic start, but instead of falling back to the rest of the pack, maintained his position. By staying true to his training and teammates, Barrett ran consistently throughout the race.
Barrett’s performance certainly bodes well for his chances at the District Three Cross Country Championships, which will be staged at Big Springs High School next weekend. A good showing there could propel Barrett on to the state cross country meet, a goal of his since he began competitive running.
WEEK ENDING Oct. 14
Tanisha Grewal is not Ryelle Shuey. She is her own unique individual, player and scorer.
But Grewal has carved out her own niche by following Shuey’s example, playing off her and tweaking her game accordingly.
On Saturday morning at Conestoga Valley, Grewal’s evolution of a scorer continued, during the Elco girls’ soccer team’s 3-2 overtime loss to Manheim Township, in the quarterfinal round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. Grewal netted a goal with 19:59 remaining that gave the Raiders a 2-1 edge.
Grewal’s accuracy and understanding of the game was on display when she recognized the importance of putting a ball on frame late in the game. Her ripped right-footer from 25 yards out caromed off a Blue Streak defender and past Manheim Township keeper Delaney McKnight inside the left post.
Grewal’s tally gave her ten goals on the season, to go along with ten assists – a total that is second only on the team to Shuey.
WEEK ENDING Oct. 7
The Annville-Cleona football team’s option offense is based upon choices and making decisions on the fly.
The first choice is the dive to the fullback. The second choice is the quarterback keep. The third choice is the pitch to the tailback.
Most of the time the first option is the best option, but especially so when that Caleb Turner is that option.
On Saturday afternoon, Turner continued to be a very viable option for the Little Dutchmen, during their 42-12 homecoming victory over Columbia. The fullback once again led Annville-Cleona in carries with 19, and gained 97 yards with those totes.
Turner’s four-yard touchdown blast late in the second quarter gave Annville-Cleona a comfortable 20-6 margin at halftime. The score capped a 12-play, 80-yard march.
Turner leads Annville-Cleona in both rushing attempts and rushing yards gained this season. He has carried 127 times for 684 yards – an average of just under five yards per attempt – with five rushing touchdowns.
WEEK ENDING Sept. 30
Cody Tobias liked it once, so he tried it again. What he discovered was that twice is nice.
On Tuesday afternoon at the par-71 Royal Oaks Golf Course in Lebanon, Tobias repeated as the champion of Lebanon County scholastic golf. With his 71, Tobias. a senior out of Elco, was the only competitor to match par, as he edged teammate Blaine Weaver for the crown.
Tobias’ performance also propelled the Raiders to their second straight team title at the local event. With Tobias, Weaver and Ryan Woelfling posting the three lowest scores in the tournament, Elco easily out-distanced runner-up Palmyra for the collective crown.
The key to Tobias’ round was his fast start. He birdied four of his first six holes, and eventually got his round to five-under par.
Although Tobias gave all five shots back to par, in no way did it diminish his accomplishment
WEEK ENDING Sept. 23
Patient. Team-oriented. Committed. To say Paxson Hayes has waited his turn would be an understatement.
But once his time came, Hayes certainly made the most of it.
On Saturday afternoon at Lebanon Valley College’s Arnold Field, Hayes tallied a pair of touchdowns in the Flying Dutchmen football squad’s 24-14 victory over FDU-Florham. For the senior tailback out of Annville-Cleona, they were the first two touchdowns of his college career.
Hayes’ first touchdown, a seven-yard scamper, gave Lebanon Valley a 7-0 lead with 2:55 left in the opening quarter. The TD capped a nine-play, 61-yard march by the Flying Dutchmen.
His second score came 5:26 into the second half, and it was a two-yard plunge which pushed Lebanon Valley’s lead to 14-6. That touchdown was the final play of a ten-play, 51-yard possession.
The result moved Lebanon Valley to 2-2 on the season.
For the season, the 5-11, 198-pound Hayes has toted the pigskin 13 times for 67 yards.
WEEK ENDING Sept. 16
As they sometimes do, the race went to the runner what wanted it the most. Turns out, Matt Carroll has a competitive streak in him a mile wide.
On Saturday morning at Annville-Cleona High School, Carroll’s competitive nature served him well, as he captured the boys’ individual race at the annual Lebanon Country Cross Country Championships. The Palmyra sophomore covered the challenging 3.1-mile course in 16:58.9.
Nestled among the lead pack from the start, Carroll made his move near the halfway point of the race. With no one seemingly willing to break away, Carroll took the initiative, and then ran away with the race – both literally and figuratively.
It was Carroll’s strong effort over the race’s final one-plus mile that propelled him to victory. Carroll opened leads of as much as a couple of hundred yards and finished with a 22-second advantage over fellow Cougar Jakolby Fackler.
But Carroll’s hard, long kick also proved beneficial in another way – it helped Palmyra secure the event’s team title, by just tenth’s of a point over Elco.
WEEK ENDING Sept. 9
You’ve undoubtedly heard of ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’. Well this is ‘get two yards at the line of scrimmage and fall forward for two more’.
In other words ‘second-down-and-six-yards-to-go’ is much better than ‘second-down-and-eight-yards-to-go’, or ‘it ain’t no fun trying to tackle Noah Myers’.
On Friday night at Annville-Cleona High School, Myers’ running and decision-making continued to key the success of the Little Dutchmen football squad, as the home team spanked their guests from Camp Hill, 39-20. Myers, a 6-4 220-pound senior quarterback, tallied five touchdowns, all on the ground, all on keepers and gained a total of 161 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Myers, who is speedier than he leaves on, scored his first touchdown early in the first quarter, on a 59-yard jaunt to put Annville-Cleona up 6-0. Myers scored again in the middle of the second quarter to push the Little Dutchmen’s advantage to 19-7.
With Myers showing the way, Annville-Cleona, now 2-1, piled up a total of 389 yards on the ground.
WEEK ENDING Sept. 2
He would match rather distribute, give it up to a teammate. That’s just the kind of guy Logan Horn is.
But he’s not above doing it himself, especially when it’s the best thing for the team.
On Friday night at Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium, Horn, Cedar Crest’s junior quarterback, blurred the line between individual play and team play during the Falcons’ 42-14 victory over Lebanon High in the 46th contesting of the annual Cedar Bowl game. When the Cedars took his teammates away, Horn accounted for five touchdowns, 170 rushing yards and 140 passing yards.
With his Falcons trailing 6-0 early, Horn turned the momentum to the Cedar Crest side for good, with first his right arm and then his legs. Horn hit fellow basketball player Cole Laney with a six-yard scoring strike and rambled 15 yards into the end zone, as the Falcons grabbed a 14-6 lead they would never relinquish.
With the result, Cedar Crest captured its sixth straight Cedar Bowl triumph.
WEEK ENDING August 26
It may have only been Week Zero, but Stevie Herb picked up right where he left off in 2016.
On Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, Herb, a senior running/defensive back for the Northern Lebanon football squad, was all over the field and showed the way for the Vikings in their 32-7 season-opening victory over rival Pine Grove. S. Herb scored three touchdowns, as Northern Lebanon jumped on the Cardinals early and never allowed them to get started.
In fact, S. Herb tallied the first three touchdowns of the season for the Vikings, including a pair within two minutes late in the opening quarter that sent the home team on its way.
First, S. Herb plunged into the end zone from a yard out to give Northern Lebanon a 7-0 lead 6:50 into the contest. Then he picked off an errant Pine Grove aerial and raced 50 yards to pay dirt.
S. Herb, who started the last seven games of his junior campaign and played well, collected a total of 93 rushing yards on 19 carries.
WEEK ENDING August 19
Relatively speaking, this week wasn’t a great week for Derek Fisher. But it was another week in the big leagues, so how bad could it be?
This week marked Fisher’s fourth with the Houston Astros, after the Rexmont native and Cedar Crest graduate was called up from Class AAA Fresno on July 25. Fisher, a former star at the University of Virginia, is attempting to realize his Major League baseball dream by carving out a productive career with Houston.
Fisher is just the sixth Lebanon County resident to play Major League Baseball, and the first in nearly 70 years. He is on pace to accomplish things at the highest level of baseball that no other local native ever has.
In June, the 23-year-old Fisher was recalled from Fresno for five days and played in the first five major league games of his career. But he was subsequently sent back to the Class AAA Fresno Grizzlies.
A fine defensive outfielder and an accomplished base runner, Fisher figures to have to hit to stay in the majors, especially on an Astros’ roster loaded with talent. To this point, Fisher has appeared in 26 major league games.
WEEK ENDING August 12
It’s sometimes hard to grasp Ben Clary’s progression as a tennis player. He plays well beyond his years, partly because he possesses patience beyond his age.
Recently, Clary, a sophomore-to-be at Palmyra High School, employed patience, understanding of the game and an unrelenting baseline game to finish second at the 50th Annual Mount Gretna Men’s Club tennis tournament. Clary advanced through the men’s singles draw at the clay court event, before falling to Jack Muriaka, 7-5, 6-4 in a hard-fought battle in the final match.
Using his persistence and strong forehand, Clary had Muriaka on the ropes all evening long.
Clary captured the initial game of the match on his way to an early 3-2 edge. But that was before Muriaka claimed four of the final five games and the first set.
In the second set, Clary won the first three games and led 5-4 after a key service break. Again Muriaka fought back to win it.
Four months prior, Clary had finished as the runner-up in the singles’ draw at the Lebanon County Boys’ Scholastic Tennis Tournament, again to Muriaka. But that was before Clary went on to win the Mid-Penn Conference’s singles title.
WEEK ENDING AUGUST 5
The people we surround ourselves with definitely have an effect us. And some of them can make us better.
Kind of like the influence Chris Gebhard has had on Noah Firestone.
On Sunday at the Lebanon Country Club, during the final match of the championship flight of the 72nd edition of the W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners golf tournament, Firestone sank an eight-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Chad Stine-Drew Patterson for their first title of the prestigious event. If Firestone had missed his clinching putt, Gebhard had a back-up lined up from 18 inches out.
Partly because of their older brother/younger brother chemistry, Firestone and Gebhard clicked all weekend long. Both the youthful Firestone and the seasoned Gebhard had finished second at previous Sullivans, with different partners.
Firestone and Gebhard had reached the final match with a 3&2 triumph over Tyler Massar and Brady Demey in Sunday morning’s semifinal. After firing a five-under 67 during qualifying that earned them the seventh seed in the championship flight, Firestone and Gebhard won four straight matches to bring home the championship.
WEEK ENDING July 29
Because the success that the Fredericksburg American Legion baseball team experienced this summer was so much based on team work and unity, it would be difficult to single out one player as its most valuable. But one would be hard pressed to name an individual who was more integral to Post 915’s success than Noah Gingrich.
On Wednesday at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field, during the second day of action in the Pennsylvania American Legion tournament, Gingrich and Fredericksburg saw their campaigns come to an end with a 10-6, 13-inning loss to Wessleysville. A day earlier, Gingrich and his mates had endured a 5-1 setback to defending state champion Swoyersville, in their opener.
During Fredericksburg’s run to Region Four and Lebanon County championships, Gingrich was a spark, a table-setter at the top of the Post 915 lineup all summer long, using his patience, selective eye and quick hands to get on base. Gingrich was also a steady fielder for Fredericksburg, making the tough plays look routine and making the routine plays look easy.
WEEK ENDING July 22
Partly through golf, Jeff True leads an active senior lifestyle. He’s played in numerous senior tournaments across the United States.
But it took True coming closer to home to score one of his biggest triumphs.
On Friday at the par-71 Royal Oaks Golf Course, True mastered the art of the par to win the 31st edition of the Lebanon County Senior Amateur Championship. He recorded more pars than anyone else in the field – 15 – and registered a birdie and two bogeys to count a one-over par score of 72, which was a shot lower than runner-up Jeff Hoke.
For True, 71 and a graduate of Lebanon High School, it was his first County Senior Amateur title in a handful of tries.
True was consistent and straight all day long. He meticulously avoided trouble, something which is not always easy to do at Royal Oaks.
WEEK ENDING July 15
Actually, he could’ve won both awards. But humble Seth Walmer was just pleased with the honor he received.
Walmer was recently tabbed as the recipient of the Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine award for being the outstanding hitter in the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League’s best-of-three championship series. Walmer’s performance at the plate, and on the mound, propelled Fredericksburg to the local summer circuit’s title, as they beat Campbelltown two games to none.
In Tuesday’s clinching 5-0 triumph at Palmyra High School, Walmer stroked a two-run single to help Post 915 to jump out to a two-run lead, then later added a sacrifice fly. A night earlier at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Walmer drilled a similar two-run single in the opening inning of Game One that got Post 815 started on its way to a 3-1 victory.
Of the eight runs scored in the final series, Walmer drove in five of them.
But Walmer was also dominant on the mound. He went the distance in Game Two and shut out Campbelltown on three hits.
Relying on his defense, Walmer struck out one, walked one and required just 68 pitches to get the job done. It was the fourth time that Walmer beat C-town this season.
The Lebanon County championship was Fredericksburg’s 24th overall, but first since 1993.
WEEK ENDING July 8
Cameron Hoch has enjoyed absolutely marvelous athletic and academic careers. Recently his accomplishments on the playing fields and in the class room were feted with the C.S. Pop Kelchner award as the top local male student-athlete, by the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Hoch, a member of the Annville American Legion Baseball Club, won it for his grades and work in football, basketball, baseball and track and field at Annville-Cleona High School. Hoch was also honored as the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three football player-of-the-year for leading the Little Dutchmen to a share of the section championship this fall.
In the spring, Hoch helped Annville-Cleona to the L-L League and District Three Class AAA postseasons in baseball, while also competing in the javelin. Hoch has committed to continue his athletic and academic careers as a football player for Division Two Shippensburg University.
From his lead-off spot, Hoch, a strong defensive outfielder, has been a catalyst for Annville during its summer-long quest for a second straight Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League championship.
WEEK ENDING July 1
Every one has been different. And they’ve all been a little more special than the previous.
After spending years trying to break through, Dan Brown has now won three county amateurs over the last seven summers.
On Sunday at the 6,305-yard, par-71 Fairview Golf Course, Brown captured his third overall Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship. And he did it by putting together two solid rounds.
The 51-year-old Brown fired a four-under par score of 67 over his second round. That, coupled with his opening-day 69, gave him a total of 136, or six-under par, which was one stroke lower than runner-up Cody Kersey.
Brown’s 136 total tied the lowest score ever in the event. He also became only the fifth player in the 59-year history of the county amateur to collect three titles.
Trailing first-round leader Mat Rowe by two shots entering the final day, Brown got off to a fast start, with four birdies over his first eight holes. But the shot that may have clinched the championship for Brown was a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-four 11th hole.
WEEK ENDING June 24
One round does not a tournament make. But when it’s the round of your life, well that’s something special.
On Saturday morning at the 6,305-yard, par-71 Fairview Golf Course, during the opening round of the 59th annual Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship, Mat Rowe fired his best round ever. His four-under par 67 was the lowest Rowe had ever gone with the stakes so high, and it earned him his first lead ever in a major event.
A graduate of Elco and Penn State University and a relative unknown on the local amateur scene, Rowe collected five birdies an eagle and a bogey to establish a two-stroke advantage over Dan Brown, Cody Kersey and the rest of the field.
Rowe was a modest one-under par through 11 holes, but he used a trio of birdies to go three-under par from Holes 12 through 17 to get to four-under. But the highlight of Rowe’s round came at the 498-yard, par-five seventh hole, where he drained a 25-foot putt for eagle.
Rowe had played in the three previous Lebanon County Amateurs, and his previous best finish was a tied for seventh.
WEEK ENDING June 17
What is this thing that Lebanon High School has going with the Big 33 Football Classic?
Khalique Washington isn’t even sure himself. But that doesn’t mean he’s above carrying on the tradition.
On Saturday evening at Cedar Dauphin Middle School’s Landis Field in Harrisburg, Washington became the latest Cedar to compete in the annual senior all-star football game. Washington was the tenth Lebanon High School graduate to compete in the Big 33 Classic, and the first since quarterback Mark Pyles played in it in 2014.
But more than just there to soak up the honor, Washington was there to play hard and win. Playing at both right and left offensive tackle, Washington did his part in Pennsylvania’s 44-33 victory over Maryland, during the 60th edition of the storied event.
Contributing his pass blocking and run blocking skills, the 6-5, 280-pound Washington helped Pennsylvania roll up 392 yards of total offense. Pennsylvania took control of the outcome with 27 unanswered points, beginning midway through the third quarter.
Washington, who also starred on the basketball floor for Lebanon this winter, has committed to take his talents to Dodge City Community College in Kansas.
WEEK ENDING June 10
To some people, zeroes mean nothing. To others, they mean something.
To Isaac Wengert, zeroes mean everything.
On Tuesday evening at Annville-Cleona High School, Wengert was posting zeroes – seven to be exact – like they were going out of style.
Wengert, Fredericksburg’s hard chucking right-hander, whitewashed Annville 1-0 for a key Lebanon County American Legion League triumph. Sharp from the outset, Wengert whiffed six, walked one and allowed just one hit in his route-going effort.
Three times during the contest, Annville advanced the potential tying run to second base. But each time, Wengert made pitches when he needed to most.
The triumph was significant for a number or reasons.
It exacted a certain measure of revenge for Wengert and Fredericksburg, for Annville’s upset of F-burg in last year’s Lebanon County American Legion best-of-three championship series. It also gave Fredericksburg a leg up on Annville in what should be a summer-long battle for league supremacy.
The win lifted Fredericksburg to 6-1 overall and kept it in first place in the local circuit, with a 3-0 mark.
WEEK ENDING June 3
The success that the Palmyra boys’ lacrosse team experienced this spring was due to the contributions of many good players, not a handful of great ones. That team approach took the Cougars farther than any Lebanon County club had gone before.
But if there was one Cougar who distinguished himself from his teammates it had to be Kyle Nolan.
On Tuesday evening at Exeter High School, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA postseason, Nolan’s season and career ended with a 15-9 loss to District One representative Strath Haven. But what a year it was for Nolan and Palmyra.
Nolan fittingly tallied the final goal of a Cougar comeback that fell short. It was the only goal of the game for the senior attacker, but the 85th of his season, to go along with 38 assists.
Palmyra finished the campaign with a 21-2 mark that marked the most wins ever by a boys’ lacrosse team from Lebanon County. The Cougars also captured the locale’s first and only District Three championship.
WEEK ENDING MAY 27
Can she do it? Yes, Cam can!
There is certainly something to be said about self-actualizing and becoming the best one can be. In many ways, it is the ultimate goal in scholastic athletics.
And what a powerful tool for a student-athlete to carry into the real world.
On Saturday afternoon at Seth Grove Stadium, on the campus of Shippensburg University, during the PIAA Track and Field Championships, Camryn Simpson established herself as the fourth best Class AAA long jumper in the state. But perhaps more importantly, Simpson leaped farther than she ever had before.
The Palmyra junior nailed an 18-5 on her final jump of preliminaries in the big school long jump, to advance to the finals of the competition. Although she was unable to better her effort, Simpson’s leap was good for fourth-place hardware and just a quarter-of-an-inch short of third place.
A week earlier at the District Three Track and Field Championships, on the same Seth Grove Stadium infield, Simpson had captured a bronze medal in the Class AAA long jump.
WEEK ENDING MAY 20
It all came down to perhaps the final throw of her career. But when she needed it the most, she simply nailed it.
That’s called performing in the clutch.
Meet Kirstin West, the reigning District Three Class AAA javelin champion.
On Saturday afternoon at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the district meet, West earned that title on her final throw. The Palmyra junior entered the competition seeded third and was situated in third place after five throws.
When West let it go, she knew it was something good. And when the judges laid out the measuring tape, they came up with a length of 140-9.
Not only was it the winning throw, the 140-9 was also West’s personal best and just two feet short of the Palmyra High School record. In addition, the throw qualified her for next weekend’s PIAA Track and Field Championships, back at Seth Grove Stadium.
Earlier this postseason, West, who also excels in the sport of volleyball, captured the javelin title at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships at Lebanon High School.
WEEK 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.
Klick is also the reigning Lebanon County cross country champion.
WEEK 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.
That, 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK ENDING April 22
There 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.
Long 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.
WEEK 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.
After 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.
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.
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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
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
With 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.
Also an excellent soccer player, Brandt has committed to continuing her athletic and academic careers at Division Two Bloomsburg University.
WEEK 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.
Funck, 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.
WEEK 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.
Throughout 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.
WEEK 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.
Kelly 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.
WEEK 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.
In the spring, Shaak is also an accomplished baseball player for Lebanon.
WEEK 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
At 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
Despite 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
Blatt is also an outstanding baseball player, and as of yet is undecided about his future plans.
WEEK 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.
Through 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
When 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.
Then 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK ENDING Nov. 26
Becky 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
Sprecher has committed to continue her athletic and academic pursuits by accepting a full grant-in-aid to Division One University of Connecticut.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
What 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.
WEEK 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.
In the spring, Cruise is an accomplished distance runner for the Cedar Crest track and field unit.
WEEK 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.
Horst is entertaining aspirations of playing football on the next level, but it would likely be as a linebacker.
WEEK 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.
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.
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.
WEEK 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.
It 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
Sailsman 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
Rhette’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.
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.
WEEK 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.
Fisher’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.
WEEK 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.
Playing 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.
WEEK 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.
Last 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK ENDING July 16
The 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.
Barr has plans to further pursue his baseball exploits on the collegiate level.
WEEK ENDING July 9
Though 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.
Then 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.
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.
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
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.
Nursing 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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
Evan 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.
Because 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.
WEEK 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.
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
Dakota 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.
And thus the beauty of time management and prioritizing.
WEEK ENDING May 14
Ariel 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.
Saturday 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
For the week, Long hit .375 with a double and four RBIs. For the season, Long is batting well over .300 with 10 RBIs.
WEEK 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.
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 9
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.
WEEK 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.
Gable 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
Lebanon 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.
Kissinger’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
Sometimes 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.
WEEK 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.
In 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.
WEEK 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.
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
As 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.
On 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.
WEEK 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
Then 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
With 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
Matt 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.
The 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
It’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.
A 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
Becoming 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.
Three 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.
WEEK 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.
Not 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
When 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.
The 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
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.
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
Role 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
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.
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.
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.
A 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
She’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.
But 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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
Harnish 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
It’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.
Light 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
Tim 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.
After 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.
WEEK 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.
Olson concluded his evening with nine catches and 150 yards.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
But 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
On 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.
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.
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.
WEEK 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.
Brown 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.
WEEK 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.
What 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
There 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.
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
Because 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.
Earlier 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
Midway 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.
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
Kyle 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.
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
It 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
Recently 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
Fox 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.
WEEK 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.
Klick 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
But 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
It 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.
She 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK ENDING March 21
Like 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.
Back 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
So, 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.
With 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
The Falcons will carry a 26-3 overall mark into next week’s PIAA Class AAAA tournament.
WEEK 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.
The 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
Sure 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.
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.
This 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
Joey 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.
Emborsky 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.
WEEK 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.
Zerman 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
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.
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.
A 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
Maria 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.
WEEK ENDING Dec. 6
Jahlil 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 contain 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.
WEEK 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.
Through 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
Earlier 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
She 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.
On 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.
WEEK 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.
Against 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.
WEEK 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.
In 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!
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.
WEEK ENDING Oct. 11
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.
Kissinger’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.
WEEK 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.
During 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
The 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.
WEEK ENDING Sept. 20
If 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.
Employing 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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
Tyler 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
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.
WEEK 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.
WEEK 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.
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.
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
When 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.