BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – If you want the Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team put away, you’re going to have to do it yourself. The Flying Dutchmen aren’t going to do it for you.
You see the Flying Dutchmen just love to hang around.
On Saturday afternoon inside the LVC Gymnasium, Lebanon Valley notched a 62-56 over now former rival Elizabethtown, mostly by just hanging around. And because it did, the Flying Dutchmen are still hanging out on the cusp of the Commonwealth Conference playoff scene.
After trailing most of the way, LVC grabbed a 46-45 edge on a three-pointer from Kevin Agnew with 9:07 showing on the clock. And once they got the lead, the Flying Dutchmen played like they wanted to hang on to it.
The outcome lifted Lebanon Valley to 7-12 overall and 5-7 in the Commonwealth. Elizabethtown, which defeated LVC 86-84 back on Jan. 8, is now 7-12 on the year and 4-8 in the conference.
The meeting was the 123rd between the two rivals, and quite possibly the last. The Blue Jays are moving to the Landmark Conference next season.
“We’re still in the playoff hunt,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Brad McAlester. “The team that lost this game would be pretty far back. We’re back in the hunt.
“Our kids are playing hard,” McAlester added. “We don’t have a lot of height, but we fight.”
Agnew also applied the dagger that completed the comeback, a deep trey from the left wing, that gave Lebanon Valley a 60-54 advantage with 55 ticks left. And his free throws with 13 seconds to go upped the Flying Dutchmen’s lead to 62-56, and sealed the deal.
Earlier, two Joey Giangiobbe foul shots had staked the Flying Dutchmen to a 57-51 margin. With 3:19 remaining, Zach Mrozek’s charity toss had provided LVC with a 55-49 advantage.
Over the second half, Lebanon Valley outscored Elizabethtown 38-25.
“We had the same shots in the second half, we just made some,” said McAlester. “I was concerned about getting to the ball. We weren’t getting too many loose balls. But you’ve got to play the whole game.
“We battled,” continued McAlester. “We scored 24 in the first half, which is terrible. But they only scored 31. We’re still sticking in there. They (his players) want to get better.”
Agnew finished with a game-high 18 points on five-for-23 shooting. The high-energy Mrozek tallied 13 points off the bench.
The Flying Dutchmen outscored the Blue Jays by ten points at the foul line, 14-4. While Elizabethtown won the rebounding battle 42-37, Lebanon Valley committed only six turnovers, compared to the Blue Jays’ 15.
After E-town made 54 percent of its shots in the first half, Lebanon Valley limited it to 30 percent shooting in the second half.
“He’s been unbelievable this year,” said McAlester of Agnew. “He’s taken his game to a whole other level. His game from last year to this year has grown immensely. People know he’s going to score for us, and he still does it. He gets off shots, and sometimes you wonder how. And the other guys like him.
“Zach (Mrozek) is extremely athletic,” added McAlester. “He’s probably one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever coached. He just has to settle a little bit. Sometimes he rushes it. He’s fun to coach because he loves to compete.”
Elizabethtown recorded 15 of the game’s first 21 points, and led by 11 points on three other occasions in the first half. But Lebanon Valley connected on the last two buckets of the first half – a jumpers by Mrozek and Kyler Burke.
Then in the middle of the second half, the Flying Dutchmen pieced together an 8-0 run to knot the game at 43. Agnew nailed a three-pointer in the sequence, as did Travis Conrad and Giangiobbe threw in a couple of tosses.
“I thought we did well with the rebounding in the second half,” said McAlester. “In the first half? No. We want to get the ball. Elizabethtown goes and gets the ball.
“We just packed in that 2-3 zone, and kept doubling the post,” McAlester continued. “They (his players) played it hard. We just can’t play man-to-man.”