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IMG_7088BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – If the Elco boys’ basketball team is going to get where it wants to go this season, it’s going to be in games like last night’s. And ultimately it’s going to have to win them.

But to expect the Raiders to win them in this fashion, well that may be asking a bit too much.

Senior Colton Lawrence’s off-balanced three-pointer from the right corner, with no time left on the clock, lifted the Raiders to a wild 61-60 triumph over Lebanon on Saturday night, and to the championship of the Cedars’ 17th annual Tip-Off Tournament. Lawrence rebounded a missed free throw attempt with five seconds remaining, dribbled with his right hand the length of the court to the wing, then squared his shoulders before launching a three-pointer that touched nothing but net.

IMG_7184Elco trailed by as much as 58-49 with 54 seconds remaining, but the Raiders netted their final 18 points on six three-pointers – four by Lawrence, one by Caleb Buchmoyer and one from Nate Beamer. The Raiders needed every single one of them.

“During the last timeout, we talked about that you could get the rebound and go the length of the floor in five seconds,” said Elco head coach Brad Conners. “Colton took it the length of the floor, only he took it into the corner. The kids executed down the stretch. You can’t take that away from them. The kids performed in the clutch.

IMG_7075“Colton will tell you, he needed to do this,” continued Conners. “For him to do it and come through when everyone knew he was going to do it, that was amazing. But it was a total team win.”

“I thought it came out of his hand late,” said Lebanon head coach Tim Speraw. “I thought he had it clutched and was still going up. After watching the video, you can confirm that. It is what it is. It shouldn’t have come down to that. They (the Raiders) shot the lights out down the stretch. I’m upset with the outcome. But you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”

Lawrence’s heroics made the naming of the tournament’s most valuable player a forgone conclusion. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Buchmoyer, Lebanon’s Matty Lopez and Felix Kortright.

IMG_7072But most importantly, the Raiders are 2-0 for the first time in recent memory. Lebanon slipped to 1-1.

“I never heard one crack on the bench, or kids at each other,” said Conners of the comeback. “It was quite the opposite. Mason Bossert kept saying, ‘It’s not over’. Colton was saying, ‘Get me the ball. I can do this’. I didn’t see one iota of quit.

“Our kids have been talking about this game since the fall,” Conners continued. “We have basketball players. They know who plays over here. They know each other. It’s a big deal for our kids.”

“If we had someone closer, we could’ve fouled going down the court,” said Speraw. “We didn’t have anyone close. Give Colton credit. He hit a big shot. I just feel bad for my kids.”

IMG_7180After trailing by 14 points on a number of occasions in the first half, and 30-16 at the break, the Raiders spent the entire second half chipping away at the Lebanon lead. Elco netted the final five points of the third period, on a Lawrence three-pointer and step-back, to move to within 40-34.

On the strength of a trey from Kortright and jumpers from Logan Blouch and Camryn Shaak, Lebanon retaliated with an 8-2 burst to start the final quarter and push its lead back to 47-36. But the Raiders held the Cedars scoreless over the next 3:45 and moved to within 49-43 on a free throw from Beamer.

Lebanon went two-for-four from the charity stripe over the game’s final 31 seconds.

“Absolutely it’s momentum for us,” said Conners. “When we talk about goals, this was one of them. We talk about one game at a time. We talk about one quarter at a time. We talk about one possession at a time, and didn’t this game come down to one possession.

IMG_7169“We didn’t play as well in the second half, but we didn’t play bad,” said Speraw. “They (the Raiders) were hitting contested shots.

“I don’t think there was a lot of talk from anyone on our side,” added Speraw. “Everyone wants a shot at Lebanon. We knew they were going to be one of the best Elco teams in a long time. They’re (the Raiders) a tough team. They’re going to win a lot of games this year.”

Lebanon led 37-26 on a jumper from Kortright, with 4:45 left in the third period. The Cedars also enjoyed a 40-29 advantage on a three-pointer from Blauch, with 1:46 of the same stanza remaining.

IMG_7152“I think they’re really good,” said Conners of the Cedars. “They’ve got a lot of athletes. From one through five, they can all handle the ball, they can all go to the basket and they can all hit the ‘three’. That is a really good team. It’ll be interesting to see what they do this year.”

“They’ve got shooters, which makes it more difficult to cover Colton,” said Speraw of the Raiders. “Colton is a tough match-up himself. They have size with the (Ryan) Eshleman kid. They’re going to be a tough out this year.”

The pace was frantic early on, and a Bossert floater gave Elco a modest 7-6 edge two minutes in. But Lebanon tallied the final 14 points of the opening period – Shaak nailed a couple of treys, Justin Baker scored on a lay-in, Allen Escoto converted a stick-back and Kortright took it hard to the hole – to establish a 20-7 margin.

Lawrence stopped the Raider bleeding with a conventional three-point play off a steal, to open the second quarter. But four times in the period did Lebanon lead by 14 points, 24-10, 26-12, 28-14 and 30-16.

IMG_7174“I don’t think it was nerves,” said Conners of his club’s cold start. “We were hurrying. We took quick shots. You could see where we were taking our shots. But to hang in down 14 speaks to the character of our kids. No matter what game we’re in from here on out, we can refer to this one.”

“I thought we were sharing the ball really well,” said Speraw. “We were making the extra pass to get the open shot. When things are going well it’s easy on everyone. When adversity hits, it tests your character.”

“I think we’ll be OK,” added Speraw. “We have a lot of work to do, and some of it is not basketball related. Some of it is being on the same page.”

IMG_7199Lawrence’s total of 29 points came on five three-pointers, six deuces and two-for-three free throwing. Buchmoyer registered 14 points and the emerging Beamer recorded ten.

Shaak’s 19 points paced the Cedars, while Kortright collected 13 and Escoto contributed ten.

After shooting a paltry eight percent from distance in the first half, Elco finished with 10 three-point field goals. The Cedars finished two-for-eight at the foul stripe.

“They (the Cedars) sped us up and we played fast,” said Conners. “We could’ve played better, but a win is a win. As far as goals go, we can check that one off our list.

“Somebody needed to do it,” concluded Conners. “Colton was calling for the ball the last two minutes. He came through big-time.”

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IMG_71132015 Elco Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
12/05 #
@Lebanon
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
12/09
Conestoga Valley
7:30 PM Elco High School
12/11
Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM Elco High School
12/14
@Columbia
7:30 PM Columbia High School
12/16
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Elco High School
12/18 *
@Cocalico
7:30 PM Cocalico High School
12/21 *
Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM Elco High School
12/23 *
Manheim Central
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/05 *
@Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/08 *
Donegal
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/09
Tulpehocken
1:00 PM Elco High School
01/09
Tulpehocken
2:30 PM Elco High School
01/11
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Pequea Valley High School
01/13
Annville-Cleona
7:30 AM Elco High School
01/13
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/15
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Lancaster Mennonite High School
01/19 *
Cocalico
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/22 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM Lampeter-Strasburg High School
01/25 *
@Manheim Central
7:30 PM Manheim Central High School
01/28 *
Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM Elco High School
02/02 *
@Donegal
7:30 PM Donegal High School

IMG_71592015 Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
12/05 #
Elco
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
12/11
@Manheim Twp.
7:30 PM Manheim Twp. High School
12/14
Penn Manor
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
12/16
@Warwick
7:30 PM Warwick High School
12/18 *
@Conestoga Valley
7:30 PM Conestoga Valley High School
12/21 *
Ephrata
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
12/23 *
@Solanco
7:30 PM Solanco High School
01/02
@Governor Mifflin
1:00 PM Governor Mifflin High School
01/05 *
@Elizabethtown
7:30 PM Elizabethtown High School
01/08 *
Garden Spot
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/11
Hempfield
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/13
@McCaskey
7:30 PM McCaskey High School
01/15
Cedar Crest
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/19 *
Conestoga Valley
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/22 *
@Ephrata
7:30 PM Ephrata High School
01/25 *
Solanco
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/28 *
Elizabethtown
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
02/02 *
@Garden Spot
7:30 PM Garden Spot High School
02/04
@Hershey
7:30 PM Hershey High School

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