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BY JEFF FALK

NEFFSVILLE – For the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team, it’s all led up to this.

At the beginning of the season, the Falcons wished, hoped, thought they could win the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship. Everything along the way has been validation and affirmation.

On Friday night at Manheim Township High School, Cedar Crest turned that dream into reality by downing Warwick 45-41, in the L-L League title match. After they led the entire way, the Falcons fended off a strong Warrior push in the closing moments.

For the Falcons, it was their fourth Lancaster-Lebanon League championship overall and first in five years. Now 22-3 on the year, Cedar Crest will be the fourth seed and host the winner between Central Dauphin and Manheim Township, on Friday, February 21st, in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AAAAAA postseason tournament.

Back on December 20th at ‘The Cage’, Cedar Crest had bested Warwick 55-50 on its way to the L-L Section One crown.

Warwick, the champions of Section Two, slipped to 19-5 on the year.

“We made that run at the beginning of the season, with 11 wins,” said Cedar Crest head coach Tom Smith. “We got off to a good start like that and we thought we might have a chance to win the league championship. I don’t like to think too far ahead. I don’t think we thought about winning a league championship until we qualified for the playoffs.

“I think mentally, we’ve improved,” continued Smith. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve won nine or ten games by six points or less. That’s the sign of a tough team. They’re (his players) winning games mentally, more than just on athleticism or the game plan.”

“We all just believe in each other,” said Cedar Crest senior Cole Miller. “It’s a team thing. We just stuck together.

“I’m just so happy,” added Miller. “It’s great for the team to get a big win like this. There’s nothing better.”

It certainly wasn’t easy. But then again, it never is for the Falcons.

Cedar Crest led 39-29 on an inside hoop from Jasosn Eberhart and 40-32 on a free throw by Grant Allwein, early in the fourth quarter. But the Warriors employed a little three-quarter court, trapping pressure and it was effective enough to limit Cedar Crest to two points over a key 3:47 stretch.

Warwick’s resulting 6-2 spurt pulled it to within 42-38 of the lead, before Amani Jones stemmed the tide for the Falcons with a couple of free throws. The Warriors did get a contested look at a potential tying three-pointer with seven seconds left, before Falcon Ilerri Ayo-Faleye iced the outcome with a foul shot.

“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” said Smith. “They certainly didn’t. At the end of the day, we did enough down the stretch, we made enough free throws to pull it out. When you stretch it to a two-possession game, then you can really defend the three-point line. It was a gutsy win.

“These guys want to be good,” Smith continued. “They want to win. They’re into it. It’s the difference between seniors and sophomores. They listen and then they go play.”

“We knew before the game that they (the Warriors) were never going to go away,” said Miller. “I think it was good that we stayed ahead. We just had to come together, slow down and take it all in. We had to get our minds right.”

On a number of occasions in the third quarter, Cedar Crest threatened to pull away from the Warriors.

Four unanswered points from Allwein made it a 33-23 Cedar Crest lead late in the period. And when Ayo-Faleye drilled three foul shots at the end of the third quarter, the Falcons had themselves a 36-27 margin.

“It’s just lots of practice,” said Smith of his side’s man-to-man defense. “It’s one thing we do every single day from the start of practice. We engrain it in these guys.

“We play man-to-man in the first and second grades,” Smith added. “We don’t allow our travel teams or middle school teams to play zone. We want to get into gaps. We want to step in and take charges. We hold kids accountable. If you don’t play defense, you don’t play.”

Ayo-Faleye tallied 13 points to lead the Falcon attack. Cedar Crest outscored Warwick 22-12 on two-point field goals.

Cedar Crest made just 13 of its 30 free throw attempts. But Warwick was a miserable five-for-17 at charity stripe.

“When their number’s called, they’re not selfish,” said Smith of his bench. “They do all the right things, and when they come in, they make plays. That’s what being a team is all about.

“You’re not going to beat teams in the district playoffs if you don’t make your free throws,” added Smith. “I have no idea when that started.”

“Everybody picked me up,” said Miller of some early foul difficulties. “Max Scipioni did a good job when he came in for me. It was nice to see other guys step up and make plays.”

Cedar Crest played well defensively, especially early. The Falcons held Warwick to a single point over the contest’s first 5:51, while building a six-point cushion on a three-pointer from Amani Jones, two foul shots by Ayo-Faleye and an Allwein lay-in.

“It was a lot of the same,” said Smith of the earlier match-up with the Warriors. “They didn’t change their stuff. They do what they do. What we needed to do was expose their size.

“Statistically, I don’t think it is (their best season defensively),” continued Smith. “We do a lot of good things, but the two guys (Eberhart and Ayo-Faleye) who protect the rim are pretty good. We like to get out and be aggresssive. You’ve got to have an extra sense of urgency, because they (the Warriors) have five guys who can shoot it.”

On buckets from Ayo-Faleye, Scipioni and Eberhart, Cedar Crest registered the initial six points of the second stanza to extend its lead to 13-4. A late three-pointer from Carson Perlaki gave the Falcons a 24-15 advantage at the intermission.

“I don’t want to lose in anything,” said Smith. “I don’t like losing to my wife playing cards at home. But that (a 61-42 setback to Manheim Township in the regular-season finale) was a good loss for us. It knocked us down a little bit. The line between great, good and bad is thin.”

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
41
45

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 0.763886 0.825581 0.688480 17.8 300.9 3.8 136.2
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 0.720284 0.773859 0.654805 18.7 310.1 5.5 163.5
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 0.683714 0.725400 0.632765 15.9 283.7 6.0 164.7
12***Manheim Township13-8-0 0.681031 0.720824 0.632394 15.8 291.9 6.1 169.7
13Central Dauphin East14-8-0 0.678221 0.717842 0.629794 17.3 298.1 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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