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BY JEFF FALK

SOUTH LEBANON – The year 2019 was a very good one for the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team. But 2020 figures to be an even better one.

As for the Falcons’ counterpart and rival, Lebanon, there may be some resolutions involved.

On Saturday night at ‘The Cage’, during the championship game of the Falcons’ annual Christmas Tournament – and the final regular season playing date on the 2019 calendar – Cedar Crest continued its mastery over the Cedars, 59-49 in another toe-to-toe, hard-fought contest between the two local rivals. While much of the affair was back and forth, Cedar Crest distinguished itself with a pivotal run early in the final period.

The triumph was the Falcons’ tenth straight to begin the season, and it was also their sixth straight over the Cedars. Cedar Crest will carry a 10-0 overall mark into the New Year, while Lebanon slipped to 4-5 on the season.

Back on December 16th at the same venue, Cedar Crest had edged Lebanon 57-55 in overtime, during a Lancaster-Lebanon Section One-Two crossover game.

Cedar Crest senior swingman Cole Miller was named the most valuable player of the tournament. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Ileri Ayo-Faleye and Cedars Marquis Ferreira and Raylin Pena.

“I’ve had great kids. I’ve had tough kids,” said Tom Smith, who’s only lost three times to Lebanon in his ten years as Cedar Crest’s head coach. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach some of the best basketball players in school history. Losing is not an option. We’ve been fortunate. Much respect to Coach (Tim) Speraw and his program. It’s a fun competition for me. These are the ones you want to coach in.

“I’ll be honest with you, I knew we had a group of battle-tested seniors back,” continued Smith. “These kids play for each other, and when we do that, we’re tough to handle. But did I think we were going to be 10-0 at this point of the season? I’m not sure we did. We’ve learned to embrace the process and go one game at a time, and if we do that, we’ll get to our goals.”

“They’ve had some really good teams over the last five or six years,” said Speraw, Lebanon’s head coach. “They’ve had some good teams since Tom and I started coaching against each other.

“We just need rest,” Speraw continued. “We need to regroup. Some of our kids didn’t come off the floor the last two nights. We’ve got to find roles for some kids. I wouldn’t say we’re in a great place. But I wouldn’t say we’re in a horrible place either.”

Cedar Crest did all the little things right in crunch time.

Trailing 38-37 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ripped off 11 straight points and took a 48-38 lead on a Trey Shutter three-pointer, 2:25 into the fourth period. The run was ignited by a Carson Perlaki three-ball and featured a pair of free throws from Ayo-Faleye and a three-pointer by Miller.

“I think in the third quarter we had a gut check, and Cole Miller stepped up big time,” said Smith. “We were able to match any run they had. We didn’t play from behind.

“I’m proud of the way we played,” added Smith. “It was a hard-fought game, on both sides. We faced some adversity tonight and we were able to stay composed.”

“I thought our defensive effort was really good, for the most part,” said Speraw. “But we couldn’t keep Ayo-Faleye out of the paint. In the fourth quarter, they (the Falcons) just suddenly went to the line. I wasn’t sure how to tell the kids to defend them any more. It was tough. We tried to keep them off the boards.

“I’m proud of the fight,” Speraw added. “We played hard. They (his players) stuck together. It’s a 10-0 team with two 6-7 kids, on the other side. It’s not an easy task for us. We were in it. We had a shot. It’s tough when you put them on the line and you’re playing zone.”

Miller tallied seven of his total points in the third quarter, as Cedar Crest forged a 37-33 edge. But five straight points from Ferreira gave Lebanon a 38-37 lead.

“The most important thing was that it was the next game on our schedule,” said Smith. “It happened to be Lebanon, which upped the stakes more, and it happened to be the championship of our Christmas tournament, which upped the stakes even more. We want to continue to get better. Tonight was the next step.”

“The clock was on and we were here to win,” said Speraw. “That’s the most important thing every night. We didn’t win tonight, but it was not because of a lack of effort.”

Ayo-Faleye paced Cedar Crest with 20 points, while Miller pumped in 13. Pena led all scorers with 21 points, and Ferreira registered 11.

Cedar Crest outscored Lebanon 28-22 on two-point field goals. The Falcons converted 13 of 18 free-throw attempts.

“He’s our third or fourth option, but every team in the Lancaster-Lebanon League would take him,” said Smith of Miller. “He’s such a smart basketball player. There’s not too much coaching going on with him. Outside of Jason Eberhart, Cole might be the player I trust the most.”

“It was tough to control Ayo-Faleye,” said Speraw. “But I thought we did a pretty good job of it. You can throw the ball up and he’s allowed to go over people. He’s just a tremendous athlete.

“They’re (the Falcons) tough,” continued Speraw. “If you have two 6-7 kids, it’s hard to defend them, no matter what. And they have good solid role players who do little things around them.”

Two early foul shots from Ferriera staked Lebanon to a 10-9 lead. But Cedar Crest went inside for a pair of buckets from Eberhart and a deuce by Ayo-Faleye to end the opening quarter with a 15-10 advantage.

“They were missing one of their big guys,” said Smith of Cedar guard Luke Collins. “Luke makes a big difference for them. They shoot the ball extremely well and you’ve got to contest jump shots. Isaiah Rodriguez inside is a problem. He continues to get better. They’ve (the Cedars) got a good inside-and-outside game.”

A Max Scipioni three-pointer pushed the Falcons’ lead to 20-14, 2:45 into the second stanza. But the score was tied at 26 at halftime, thanks in part to a five-point trip by Lebanon late in the second quarter.

“We don’t look past the next game,” said Speraw. “The next game is our focus. We’re going to try and win on Friday night (at Ephrata).”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com

2019-20 Cedar Crest Boys’ Basketball Schedule

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

Nonleague
12/27
7:30 pm
Oxford
at Cedar Crest
38
51

Nonleague
1/02
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Conestoga Valley

League
1/04
4:30 pm
Cedar Crest
Lower Dauphin
at Lebanon Valley College

Nonleague
1/07
7:30 pm
Hempfield
at Cedar Crest

League
1/10
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Penn Manor

League
1/11
3:00 pm
Cedar Crest
Bishop McDevitt
at Manheim Central

Nonleague
1/14
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at McCaskey

League
1/17
7:30 pm
Manheim Township
at Cedar Crest

League
1/22
7:30 pm
Carlisle
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
1/24
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Hempfield

League
1/28
7:30 pm
Penn Manor
at Cedar Crest

League
1/31
7:30 pm
McCaskey
at Cedar Crest

League
2/04
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township

League

2019-20 Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
12/06
7:30 pm
Elco
Lebanon
at Lebanon
57
53

Nonleague
12/07
TBD
Red Land
at Lebanon
39
70

Nonleague
12/10
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Governor Mifflin
53
60

Nonleague
12/13
7:30 pm
McCaskey
at Lebanon
63
61

League
12/16
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
55
57

League
12/18
7:30 pm
Hempfield
at Lebanon
47
51

League
12/20
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Penn Manor
58
53

League
12/27
6:00 pm
Emmaus
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
61
69

Nonleague
12/28
TBD
TBA
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
1/03
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Ephrata

League
1/04
6:00 pm
Palmyra
Lebanon
at Lebanon Valley College

Nonleague
1/06
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Manheim Township

League
1/10
7:30 pm
Elizabethtown
at Lebanon

League
1/11
3:00 pm
Conrad Weiser
Lebanon
at Garden Spot

Nonleague
1/14
7:30 pm
Warwick
at Lebanon

League
1/16
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Conestoga Valley

League
1/20
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Garden Spot

Nonleague
1/21
7:30 pm
Ephrata
at Lebanon

League
1/25
2:30 pm
Hershey
at Lebanon

Nonleague
1/28
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Elizabethtown

League
1/31
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Warwick

League
2/04
7:30 pm
Conestoga Valley
at Lebanon

League

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Section One Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTPFPA
Cedar Crest401.000901.000512390
McCaskey310.750440.500530520
Penn Manor220.500720.778488444
Manheim Township220.500540.556487440
Hempfield220.500370.300454493

Section Two Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTPFPA
Elizabethtown310.750730.700614563
Warwick220.500540.556486420
Lebanon220.500450.444519496
Conestoga Valley040.000270.222483516
Ephrata040.0000110.000421643

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