NEFFSVILLE – Would you rather play well and lose, or play poorly and win? Now what if a championship is on the line?
It really all depends if you derive enjoyment from within, or if you’re stimulated by outside sources.
On Thursday night at Manheim Township High School, the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team played well in the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship game, but lost to McCaskey 54-47. Following a nip-and-tuck first half, McCaskey gained control of the outcome early in the final quarter, as the Falcons just couldn’t keep the Red Tornado off the glass.
Not only did the Falcons perform better than they did in some wins this season, their performance was in stark contrast to their two regular-season meetings, both McCaskey wins – 84-55 in Lancaster on December 18th and 63-42 in South Lebanon on January 19th. The Red Tornado may have been motivated by losses to Cedar Crest in the last two Lancaster-Lebanon League championship games.
The league title was McCaskey’s 14th overall.
For Cedar Crest, now 19-6 overall, it was its fourth straight appearance in the L-L championship game. The Falcons will now turn their attentions to the District Three Class AAAA tournament, which they will open at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m. as the sixth seed, against Hempfield.
“It’s something to build on,” Smith continued. “We never like to lose. But at the end of the day, we grew up today We got better.”
The Falcons moved to within one possession of the Red Tornado on a number of occasions in the fourth quarter. Ramie Ferreira followed a Dylan Miller hoop with a pair of free throws to get Cedar Crest to within 44-41 with 2:28 to go.
With 1:07 remaining, senior Evan Horn pulled the Falcons to within 47-43 with a hard drive to the basket. And Cedar Crest closed to within 52-47 with 22 ticks left when Horn converted a conventional three-point play.
But that would prove to be Cedar Crest’s last gasp. McCaskey closed out the contest by going four-of-six at the charity stripe.
‘They’re getting there,” said Smith of his charges. “They responded. They handled adversity. There was a time when it looked like we might not get here, but they’ve gotten better the last few weeks. This is something they wanted. They wanted to get here. They wanted to cut nets.
“Our defensive rebounding the last four minutes was not good,” Smith added. “We just couldn’t get over the hump in the second half.”
The score was tied at halftime, and at 28 in the middle of the third period, thanks to a Horn three-pointer, before McCaskey pieced together a modest 6-1 to establish a 34-29 advantage. But a Horn three-pointer with two seconds left in the third, drew Cedar Crest to within 36-34 of the lead.
“I think we were pretty confident,” said Smith. “They whooped us the first two times we played them. I told our guys, ‘Let’s give them our best and see what they do’. I think what happened in the last two years in this game mattered to them (the Red Tornado). They’ve had a chip on their shoulder for us.
“We’re a young team, and we’re still growing up, day by day,” Smith continued. “The kids are getting more comfortable in what we do. But the best thing is we’re not done. They want to get better. The future is bright, but we’re focused on the present.”
Horn shot well and led all scorers with 24 points, and corralled 15 rebounds. And although the score book might not reveal it, the Falcons young guns played well and confident in support of him.
McCaskey made just ten of its 23 free throw attempts, but scored ten points – eight of which came in the second half – directly off of offensive rebounds. The Red Tornado was guilty of seven turnovers, compared to the Falcons’ 12.
“They have good athletes, but I thought we defended them well,” said Smith. “We really didn’t change much defensively against them. It was just knowing our match-ups a little better. (Ricky) Cruz killed us today. He’s a good player, but we make him look like the player of the year. He’s had three good games against us.
“It’s been fun watching the match-up with Evan and Kobe (Gantz) over the years,” added Smith. “I’d like to think that Evan has had the upper hand. But they’re two good players going at it.”
The Falcons found themselves in a 13-8 hole late in the opening period. But when Iziah Trimble nailed a trey late in the quarter, and Horn drained a pair of foul shots, Tate Seyfert laid in a deuce and Blake Thomson scored on a ‘take to the hole’ in the second, Cedar Crest found itself in the midst of a 9-4 run and a 17-all deadlock.
“We pulled the ball out in the first half,” said Smith. “I thought that we had a little success against them when we pulled the ball out in the past. We wanted them to come out and play us. We wanted to dictate a little bit.”
The Falcons’ only leads of the evening came in the second quarter, both on drives by Horn. His bucket 3:09 before the break gave Cedar Crest a 19-18 edge, and his hoop with 58 seconds left in the half made it a 21-19 Falcon margin.
“Last night he had foul trouble,” said Smith of Ferriera’s performance against Lancaster Mennonite on Wednesday. “Tonight we were riding him. He’s a big kid inside. I think his season’s been a little up and down. But he shows up everyday. He’s ready to go.”
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|4:30 PM||W 74-68|
|7:30 PM||W 58-38|
|7:30 PM||W 55-49|
|7:30 PM||W 52-46|
|7:30 PM||L 55-84|
|7:30 PM||L 69-75|
|7:30 PM||W 58-53|
|7:30 PM||W 59-49|
|7:30 PM||W 70-44|
|7:30 PM||W 58-46|
|7:30 PM||W 55-49|
|7:30 PM||W 72-43|
|7:30 PM||W 66-53|
|7:30 PM||W 50-34|
|7:30 PM||W 66-46|
|7:30 PM||W 44-32|
|7:30 PM||L 42-63|
|7:30 PM||L 59-63|
|7:30 PM||L 53-68|
|7:30 PM||W 74-46|
|7:30 PM||W 69-54|
|7:30 PM||W 63-51|
|7:00 PM||W 59-52|
|8:00 PM||W 58-56|
|7:00 PM||L 47-54|
|7:00 PM||Cedar Crest High School|
Past Lancaster-Lebanon League
Boys’ Basketball Champions
1976: Cedar Crest
2003: Lancaster Catholic
2009: Conestoga Valley
2014: Cedar Crest
2015: Cedar Crest
Class AAA Power Rankings
|5||J P McCaskey||16-||5-||0||0.773232|
|13||Central Dauphin East||13-||9-||0||0.695578|
|41||York County School Of Technology||5-||17-||0||0.356455|