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BY JEFF FALK

LANDISVILLE – Pounding the ball inside.

Increasing the defensive intensity in crunch time.

Playing to your strengths.

Right now, the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team is seeking the little things that will separate it from similarly-talented teams.

It’s what good teams do in the playoffs. It’s what good programs do constantly.

On Wednesday evening at Hempfield High School, during a semifinal contest of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, the Falcons’ attention to details down the stretch matter most, as they pulled out a hard-fought 48-43 decision over the Pioneers of Lampeter-Strasburg. Cedar Crest used a solid defensive effort to outscore Lampeter-Strasburg 10-0 over the final four minutes of the game.

The victory lifted Cedar Crest, the champions of Section One, to 21-3 on the year and into Friday’s 7 p.m. Lancaster-Lebanon League championship game at Manheim Township High School. There the Falcons will be opposed by Section Two champion Warwick, which surprised Lancaster Catholic 50-37 in the other semifinal.

With the result, Lampeter-Strasburg, the champions of Section Three, fell to 16-8.

For the Falcons, it will be their fifth appearance in the Lancaster-Lebanon League final in the last eight years. Cedar Crest captured back to back L-L championships in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

This season also marks Cedar Crest’s eighth straight winning campaign and the Falcons’ eighth consecutive trip to the District Three postseason.

“We were able to get baskets and set up our defense,” said Cedar Crest head coach Tom Smith, of crunch time “We talked about pushing them (the Pioneers) off the three-point line. And we needed to have a sense of urgency down the stretch.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve been to the league final,” continued Smith. “We got used to it for four years in-a-row. But we’ve got a great opportunity. This is what you work so hard in the summer for.”

“Coming into the season, we had set the goals of winning at home, winning the section, winning the league, winning districts and going to states,” said Cedar Crest senior guard Amani Jones. “We made our first goal, now we’re going after the second. When we’re playing well, we’re fun to watch.”

Cedar Crest used its defense to overcome itself and Lampeter-Strasburg during crunch time.

The Pioneers had used a 9-1 opening of the fourth quarter, to establish a 43-38 lead, with 4:20 to go. But on three points from Jones and Cole Miller, a Jason Eberhart bucket and a pair of foul shots by Ileri Ayo-Faleye, Cedar Crest netted the final ten points of the game.

Ayo-Faleye’s free throws iced it with seven seconds left, after the Falcons had gone a miserable three-for-13 on fourth-quarter foul shots before that.

“I think we’re 9-0 in games decided by six points or less,” said Smith. “During the timeouts, I told our guys, ‘Stay together. We’re alright.’

“I don’t want to talk about free throws,” Smith continued. “I told them in the locker room, ‘If I walk into practice tomorrow and you’re not shooting free throws, I’m going to get on you.’ We do it in practice. I think it’s a mental thing. It’s a little bit of fatigue. When you’re a little tired, you don’t shoot them quite the same way. As you continue on, teams are going to get closer and closer in ability, and foul shots can separate you.”

“It’s all mental,” said Jones. “We shoot them a lot at practice. But foul shots have been our Achiles Heel this season.”

After trailing by three points at the break, the Falcons got inside hoops from Ayo-Faleye and Eberhart to start the second half and grab a 27-26 edge. Then with Eberhart tallying seven points, Miller contributing a deuce and Ayo-Faleye hitting a free throw, Cedar Crest closed the third quarter with a 9-5 spurt to take a 37-34 margin.

“Defensively, I knew they were going to give us fits,” said Smith. “I knew they were going to play that switching man-to-man. We played better in transition in the second half. We defended the three-point line very well.”

“They’re a good team,” said Jones. “We knew coming in it was going to be a battle. We also knew we had to contain (senior guard, Seth) Beers. We had to make sure he earned every point.”

With the Falcons making a concious effort to get the ball inside, Eberhart collected 19 points and Ayo-Faleye contributed 11. Jones also popped for 11 points.

Cedar Crest, which made 58 percent of its free throws during the regular season, went a woeful 10-for-21 at the charity stripe. But the Falcons outscored the Pioneers 32-16 on two-point field goals.

Beers notched a game-high 17 points, 14 of which came in the first half.

“Grant (Allwein) picked up two fouls, so we started the second half with Amani on Beers,” said Smith. “Amani was having great success. He was up for the challenge. He (Beers) wasn’t as explosive in the second half. But because Grant was guarding him in the first half, he didn’t have his legs late.”

“Grant had two fouls, so I knew I had to come in and pick it up where Grant left off,” said Jones. “I just tried to do the best I could to contain him. I’ve got to do a little bit of everything. I’ve got to do whatever the team needs. It changes every night.”

Ayo-Faleye, Jones and Eberhart had given the Falcons an early 7-5 edge. But the opening quarter ended with Lampeter-Strasburg up 12-9.

“Jason kept us in the game early,” said Smith. “He was spot on, defensively. He does so much for us. Some of it shows up in the stat line, but some of it doesn’t.

“Good things happen when Jason gets ‘touches’,” Smith added. “We talk about it in practice. That’s what it was tonight, getting it into Jason.”

“It’s been so much fun,” said Jones. “I’m really enjoying my senior year. Just playing with my teammates, who I’ve been playing with for years.”

After back-to-back inside hoops from Eberhart had given Cedar Crest an 18-17 second-period edge, Jones nailed a three-pointer to put the Falcons ahead 21-19. But it was the Pioneers who carried a 26-23 margin to the locker room.

“It’s going to make a difference down the stretch,” said Smith of some missed opportunities inside. “We had a lot of great looks. But we missed too many close ones.”

Back on December 20th at ‘The Cage’ in South Lebanon, Cedar Crest edged Warwick 55-50.

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2019-20 Cedar Crest Boys’ Basketball Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
12/06
6:00 pm
Red Land
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
29
70

Nonleague
12/07
7:30 pm
Elco
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
55
59

Nonleague
12/09
7:30 pm
Wyomissing
at Cedar Crest
47
59

Nonleague
12/13
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Elizabethtown
45
41

League
12/16
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
55
57

League
12/18
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Ephrata
57
26

League
12/20
7:30 pm
Warwick
at Cedar Crest
50
55

League
12/21
7:00 pm
Cedar Crest
at Palmyra
60
40

Nonleague
12/27
7:30 pm
Oxford
at Cedar Crest
38
51

Nonleague
12/28
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
49
59

Nonleague
1/02
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Conestoga Valley
52
46

League
1/04
4:30 pm
Cedar Crest
Lower Dauphin
at Lebanon Valley College
46
58

Nonleague
1/08
7:30 pm
Hempfield
at Cedar Crest
47
61

League
1/10
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Penn Manor
70
40

League
1/11
3:00 pm
Cedar Crest
Bishop McDevitt
at Manheim Central
58
55

Nonleague
1/14
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at McCaskey
48
62

League
1/17
7:30 pm
Manheim Township
at Cedar Crest
49
58

League
1/22
7:30 pm
Carlisle
at Cedar Crest
43
56

Nonleague
1/24
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Hempfield
56
51

League
1/28
7:30 pm
Penn Manor
at Cedar Crest
52
65

League
1/31
7:30 pm
McCaskey
at Cedar Crest
52
53

League
2/04
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township
42
61

League
2/10
7:00 pm
Cocalico
at Cedar Crest
36
59

Playoff
2/12
5:30 pm
Lampeter-Strasburg
Cedar Crest
at Hempfield
43
48

Playoff
2/14
7:00 pm
Warwick
at Cedar Crest

Playoff
2/21
7:00 pm
TBA
at Cedar Crest

Playoff

PIAA District Three

Final Class AAAAAA Power Rankings

AAAAAASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1***Wilson21-1-0 0.845478 0.970930 0.692147 25.1 332.3 0.8 147.8
2***Central York18-3-0 0.777853 0.897704 0.631368 21.5 291.9 2.5 170.4
3***Reading15-5-0 0.764560 0.825581 0.689979 17.8 300.9 3.8 135.2
4***Cedar Crest19-3-0 0.757581 0.906375 0.575722 22.8 269.2 2.4 198.4
5***Central Dauphin17-5-0 0.748749 0.846311 0.629506 20.7 301.3 3.8 177.3
6***Cumberland Valley18-4-0 0.748520 0.880478 0.587238 22.1 277.0 3.0 194.7
7***Warwick17-4-0 0.736006 0.861635 0.582460 20.6 264.0 3.3 189.3
8***J P McCaskey15-7-0 0.720877 0.773859 0.656121 18.7 310.1 5.5 162.5
9***Chambersburg Area16-6-0 0.703824 0.807377 0.577259 19.7 270.9 4.7 198.4
10***Governor Mifflin13-9-0 0.692080 0.692478 0.691594 15.7 339.4 7.0 151.4
11***Harrisburg13-8-0 0.684319 0.725400 0.634108 15.9 283.7 6.0 163.7
12***Manheim Township13-8-0 0.681031 0.720824 0.632394 15.8 291.9 6.1 169.7
13Central Dauphin East14-8-0 0.677779 0.717842 0.628814 17.3 296.8 6.8 175.2
14Exeter Township13-9-0 0.658504 0.681193 0.630774 14.9 301.1 7.0 176.3
15Dallastown13-9-0 0.652726 0.680617 0.618637 15.5 294.1 7.3 181.3
16Lebanon12-10-0 0.609194 0.642857 0.568050 14.4 270.3 8.0 205.5
17Waynesboro Area12-10-0 0.585746 0.611872 0.553815 13.4 259.9 8.5 209.4
18Red Lion10-12-0 0.566068 0.533019 0.606460 11.3 287.3 9.9 186.4
19Carlisle8-14-0 0.562892 0.485294 0.657734 9.9 317.9 10.5 165.4
20Penn Manor8-14-0 0.530882 0.463054 0.613782 9.4 296.2 10.9 186.4
21HEMPFIELD6-16-0 0.505033 0.365979 0.674987 7.1 334.0 12.3 160.8
22Conestoga Valley7-15-0 0.482745 0.401515 0.582027 8.0 276.6 11.9 198.6
23York County School Of Technology4-15-0 0.306571 0.197403 0.440000 3.8 178.8 15.5 227.5

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Past Boys’ Basketball Champions

1973: McCaskey

1974: Cocalico

1975: Ephrata

1976: Cedar Crest

1977: Cocalico

1978: Lebanon

1979: Lebanon

1980: McCaskey

1981: Warwick

1982: McCaskey

1983: McCaskey

1984: Hempfield

1985: Lebanon

1986: Lebanon

1987: Warwick

1988: Warwick

1989: Columbia

1990: Columbia

1991: Conestoga Valley

1992: Hempfield

1993: McCaskey

1994: Solanco

1995: Hempfield

1996: Lebanon

1997: Lebanon

1998: Lebanon

1999: Hempfield

2000: Hempfield

2001: McCaskey

2002: McCaskey

2003: Lancaster Catholic

2004: Lebanon

2005: McCaskey

2006: McCaskey

2007: McCaskey

2008: McCaskey

2009: Conestoga Valley

2010: Hempfield

2011: Hempfield

2012: McCaskey

2013: McCaskey

2014: Cedar Crest

2015: Cedar Crest

2016: McCaskey

2017: Lancaster Catholic

2018: Lampeter-Strasburg

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