BY JEFF FALK
ASSUMPTION HILL – Not sure that the Lebanon Catholic boys’ basketball team has arrived ahead of schedule or not. It may be that the Beavers are just consistent – pretty good, night in and night out.
On Wednesday night against rival Annville-Cleona, Lebanon Catholic was pretty good again, especially early on. The Beavers needed all of seven minutes of the opening quarter to establish a double-digit advantage, and then never relinquished it, in rolling to a 69-47 victory over the Little Dutchmen.
Employing a quick pace, the Beavers opened leads of 12-2, 16-4 and 28-9, before putting Annville-Cleona away in the third quarter.
With the win, Lebanon Catholic, the reigning District Three Class A champions, moved to 9-2 on the season and 4-2 in Section Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. For the Little Dutchmen, their tenth straight loss left them 1-10 overall and 0-6 in the the section.
“It’s not just another game,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Scott Clentimack, of the packed house his club played its rival in front of. “This why we put in all the time over the summer, for nights like tonight, so you can go out and perform at the highest level in front of a crowd. I know a lot of people came out to see us play Annville-Cleona, but I’d also like to think they came out because we’re pretty good. My kids have earned it for me to say, ‘we’re pretty good.’ These guys have been working their butts off for four years.”
“They’re a very good basketball team,” said Annville-Cleona first-year head coach Chris Bradford of the Beavers. “They’re very well-coached. Their assistants do a very good job. They have put the time in to get the program where it is. I’d be lying if I told you as a first-year coach I’m not trying to model ourselves with some of the things they do.
“When they (the Beavers) miss shots, you can’t give up second opportunities,” Bradford continued. “We shored it up in the second half, but at that point it was difficult to come back.”
Playing inside and out, and spreading the ball around, Lebanon Catholic hit Annville-Cleona with a 12-5 burst that spilled over into the second quarter and gave it a 19-point lead, five minutes before the break. Then the Beavers closed the half with an 8-4 spurt – on a pair of charity tosses from Jaylon Colon, two drives to the bucket by Alex Frattaroli, an Anthony Thomas foul shot and a long buzzer-beating trey from Anthony Pletz – to take a 42-18 cushion to the locker room.
“I thought we got the pace we wanted early on,” said Clentimack. “I don’t care who you are or how you coach them, kids want to get up and down the court. We sped up the game and Annville-Cleona got caught up in it. They don’t practice that way, but we do. I thought we got the pace we wanted and they weren’t able to keep up.
“You’re right it (a big early lead) can affect the rest of the game,” Clentimack continued. “But I have to preach it, and the kids have to buy in. I don’t ever feel comfortable. I’ve seen too many things happen in sports. We’re not in position to take anything for granted, at any point of the game. I think for the most part we were pretty good in the third quarter. I told our guys at halftime to go out and win the third quarter.”
“You look at the some of the statistics, and defensively what we’ve been struggling with is giving up big quarters,” said Bradford. “And the first quarter was important to them (the Beavers).
“They’re good at what they do,” Bradford added. “They didn’t show anything that was new. That’s a very good basketball team.”
Frattaroli, a senior forward, paced the Beavers with a game-high 22 points, including a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter that got him to the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Fellow 12th-grader Pletz canned four three-pointers and collected 14 points, while Kern registered 12 points and Thomas recorded ten.
Derrick Sanders went for 18 Little Dutchmen points, and Paxson Hayes pumped in 15. Lebanon Catholic outscored Annville-Cleona 15-3 from beyond the arc.
“It was great for Alex, but it wasn’t the ideal situation,” said Clentimack. “I thought 22 was too much to get. I’d rather have it be four or five. But for him to hit a ‘three’ to get it, that was his first of the year. That’s not his game. But he pulled up and looked good shooting it. It’s a tribute to Alex and how hard he’s worked.
“That’s (the three-point shooting) Anthony’s game,” continued Clentimack. “That’s what he does. If you’re confident in your game, that’s the way it looks. But I’d like to see him expand his game and get to the foul line. Traditionally he’s 85 to 90 percent with his foul shots. That’s a lot of points.”
“This was my first time in this atmosphere,” said Bradford. “You can feel it. I probably sweated a little more than I usually do. I think our guys like the atmosphere. It was a good Wednesday night of basketball.
“We were disappointed with the outcome,” added Bradford. “But I couldn’t be happier with what our guys are laying out on the floor. The shots just didn’t fall. Our mistakes are correctable mistakes.”
The Beavers’ advantage expanded to 56-29 on a Pletz trey late in the third quarter. It was 66-39 Catholic in the fourth quarter, when Clentimack emptied his bench.
“You can never be upset with 9-2,” said Clentimack. “Could we be 11-0? Yeah, we could be. But we could be 6-5. We could beat everyone we play the rest of the way, or we could lose to everyone we play. I’m not complaining. But here’s the thing: I’m not concerned with where we are. I’m concerned with where we end up.”
“We’re not going in the wrong direction,” said Bradford. “Some different guys are getting new minutes. While the opportunities are slowly going away, they’re still there for us. The seniors are continuing to battle.
“When the shots fall, everyone’s happy,” continued Bradford. “But when they don’t, we don’t hang our heads. I don’t think it was any lack of trying.”