BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – Want to forget a bad loss? Earn a good win.
Want to forget an unfulfilling season? Simply look ahead.
Want to forget a rough ending? Get off to a fresh start.
On Saturday afternoon, the Elco boys’ basketball team erased the memory of a stinging loss on Friday night by besting Tulpehocken 58-43 in a non-league matinee . The Raiders hit the visiting Trojans with a devastating 20-0 run to open the game, and never allowed their guests to get closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Just 19 hours earlier, Elco had endured its’ fifth straight loss, a 57-56 setback at Donegal. Elco is now 5-8 on the year, while Tulpehocken slipped to 11-2 overall.
“We’re still kind of reeling from last night,” said Elco head coach Brad Conners. “That was a tough loss. It was nice to come out and hit some shots. It was nice to be able to come back today and get a win.
“Last night (Friday) we were up 12 and gave it away,” Conners added. “So yeah, there was a lot of game left. At halftime, we did talk about it, ‘hey it’s 0-0, we’ve got to come out intense.'”
Elco started the game on fire, and the Raider with the hottest hand was sophomore Colton Lawrence. Lawrence drained a trio of three-point field goals in Elco’s opening volley and accounted for 13 of those 20 points, while Caleb Buchmoyer had five others for the Raiders.
When Tulpy did finally get on the scoreboard with a free throw, six minutes of the opening quarter had elapsed.
“I remember us making shots and getting stops,” said Conners. “We had a little bit left over from last night and took it out on them (the Trojans). We made some moves and the kids we inserted into the lineup did some good things. But I can’t enjoy the win, even though we don’t get a lot of them.
“The kids on the bench were cheering for us to continue to get stops,” continued Conners. “You know you’re going to get to a point when they’re (the Trojans) going to score and make some shots.”
When Caleb Buchmoyer converted a steal into a lay-in late in the second period, Elco still had that 20-point bulge, up 34-14. But the Raiders tallied the final six points of the half – a short jumper by Lawrence, a Buchmoyer bucket and finally a buzzer-beating inside move from Lawrence – to take a 40-17 margin to the break.
“We’re not putting the cart before the horse,” said Conners, whose club still has a flickering hope of making districts. “We just talk about improving from one game to the next. We’re not talking wins and losses. We’re young in a lot of spots.
“Dustin Miller has been playing well and he’s deserving of a starting spot,” Conners continued. “And Derek Miller has been scoring for us. Colton has been steady. And it was encouraging to see Caleb Buchmoyer hit shots today. We need him to do that.”
Lawrence finished with a game-high 24 points, while Buchmoyer collected an even dozen and Derek Miller canned ten.
“No, I’m not pleased where we’re at,” said Conners. “We lost five in-a-row. Sure it’s about improving, but we keep records. It’s about winning and losing. No, it hasn’t been enough improvement.
“Minus last night, we’re kind of where we thought we’d be,” Conners continued. “We know what we’re facing. We know what’s ahead of us in the section. There’s two (games) we’d like to have back.”
The Raiders did appear to tighten up right after halftime, when they went the first 4:31 of the third quarter without a point. Tulpy pulled to within 40-27, before a Trojan technical foul helped swing the momentum back into Elco’s corner.
Then in the final stanza, a Tyler Starry trey, two Lawrence inside maneuvers, a pair of charity tosses from Buchmoyer and a drive by Derek Miller re-upped the Raider lead to 54-37, with 2:53 to go.
“They (the Trojans) made a couple of shots and then we gave them the ball,” said Conners, whose side was guilty of six third-quarter turnovers. “It always seems like there’s a spot in the game where we give up two or three turnovers.
“When we run our offense, kids get good looks,” added Conners. “But we haven’t had a lot of practice time recently. We haven’t been in the gym.”