BY JEFF FALK
ASSUMPTION HILL – Annville-Cleona and Lebanon Catholic are so competitive that they’ll play just about any game against one another.
H-O-R-S-E. Free-throw shooting contest. Defensive battle.
What have you got?
On Friday night, the Little Dutchmen got the better of the Beavers in a little sport called ‘basketball’, through a contest which included aspects of those three competitions. While Annville-Cleona’s 40-37 victory in the war may have been directly related to triumphs in those battles, there was also a degree of attrition to it.
Annville-Cleona got the job done down the stretch, at the free throw line and on the defensive end, after Little Dutchman Trenton Wizar had switched momentum for good with a critical three-point bomb, 2:47 into the fourth quarter. Wizar’s trey knotted the score at 30, and Annville-Cleona proceeded to hold the Beavers scoreless for a five-minute stretch to open a six-point margin.
The Little Dutchmen netted their last ten points of the game from the charity stripe, on ten-of-18 shooting by Lucas Bush, Julian DyReyes-Kapp, Finn Hermanson, Gordon Parks, Matt Light and Wizar.
The win lifted Annville-Cleona to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in Section Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. The loss dropped Lebanon Catholic to 2-4 on the year and 0-4 in the league.
“We were down three and one of my coaches said this is not the time to start bombing,” said Little Dutchmen head coach Chris Bradford. “Trenton was setting up there with a wide-open ‘three’, and he gives it up and we get an ‘and-one’. Gunning isn’t going to work for us. We played well from the neck up tonight.
“Our foul shooting wasn’t great,” added Bradford. “But we weren’t leaving both of them out there often. Getting to the line that often is something we can point to.”
“Do you want to know the key play in the game?,” said Beaver head coach Scott Clentimack. “We were up three and the one guy we couldn’t cut loose is Wizar. He got into the corner, we lost him and he hit a ‘three’ to tie the game at 30.
“We had to keep them tied or stay ahead,” Clentimack added. “We had them. They kept hanging around. We’re not a prolific scoring team. We’ve got to protect the ball.”
Parks originally tied the score at 27 with a ‘trey’ to open the final stanza, before John Groh responded for Catholic with an old-school three-point play.
The Beavers had led 27-22 three minutes into the second half, but were held without a point for the remainder of the third period.
“We looked at this week, after taking beatings from Section Three teams,” said Bradford. “You’ve got to take care of the Section Four teams. That’s our section. It was a full gym to see two teams who didn’t have a lot of wins. To gut one out with a full gym on a Friday night, I feel good for them (his players).
“We went man (-to-man defense) and it was OK in spots,” continued Bradford. “We were getting in passing lanes with the zone. But it slowed them (the Beavers) down and made them work for it. And we had guys attacking the basket, the same guys who were hesitant early.”
“They play hard. They run their stuff,” said Clentimack of the Little Dutchmen. “They’re not a prolific scoring team, but they had some options tonight. I think they’re starting to understand a little better what he’s (Bradford) trying to do. They give the max effort. That’s what you want. You can work on other things.
“We had to go to our bench and I didn’t do a good job of having other kids ready to play,” Clentimack continued. “We tried to make the best of the situation that we could. When you go out there and play four-on-five or three-on-five, it’s almost impossible to win.”
Light led all scorers with 14 points, while Groh, who tallied 12 points, Joe Gates, who also canned a dozen, and Luke Frattaroli, who notched ten, accounted for 34 of the Beavers’ total of 37. Annville-Cleona, which entered the fray averaging 37 points an outing this season, finished 11-for-23 at the foul stripe, while holding Lebanon Catholic to a total of just six two-point field goals.
The Beavers lost freshman Humberto Valerio to injury in the game’s opening minutes and it changed their player rotation the rest of the evening.
“Julian (DyReyes-Kapp) started the first two games and didn’t play great,” said Bradford. “So we went in a different direction. But the way he has responded has been great, and he’s worked his way back into the starting lineup. The things he did tonight might not have showed up on the stat sheet, but they were big for us. He’s playing his tail off.
“Guys feed off him (Light),” added Bradford. “He’s not the most vocal guy in the world – actually we don’t have many of those guys – but he leads by example.”
“No,” said Clentimack to the notion that his team ran out of gas down the stretch, “What was more of a factor was me not having kids who know what to do. This is a team we felt we could beat tonight. When he (Valerio) went down, I thought it took a little wind out of our sails too.
“With Joe (Gates), he had 41 points a week ago,” Clentimack added. “But it was as much of a curse as it was a blessing. Everybody knows he scored 41 points, so now they’re running two or three guys at him. He’s a battler. But what is he, a buck-twenty-five? He does everything for us. He handles the ball, he shoots. We’re asking a lot of him.”
With Light on top of his game, Annville-Cleona took ownership of the action early on. The Little Dutchmen registered eight unanswered points in the opening stanza, and when Light scored on a drive down the lane 31 seconds into the second quarter, A-C had a 15-9 lead.
But the Little Dutchmen tallied only two points over the rest of the first half, and the Beavers got a little inside-outside game going with Gates, Groh and Frattaroli to carry a 22-17 advantage to the break.
“We started out fast, which has been a problem,” said Bradford. “But I look up at the scoreboard and only see 40 points. Obviously there’s a lot we can improve on. But we got a lot of contributions tonight. I feel good for my guys. It’s really easy to throw your hands up and blow it up when you have a bad game. We’ve been preaching staying with the process. Our guys last year were going through the same thing.
“I thought Groh made us adjust a little more,” Bradford continued. “He kind of pounded us inside. We knew what it was coming in.”
“We played hard,” said Clentimack. “We got down ten early and came back and took the lead. And then we hung in there. I don’t want to say we weren’t ready to play. It was Annville-Cleona. If we weren’t, that’s on me.
“John (Groh) has been a warrior for us so far this year,” continued Clentimack. “Basketball is not his thing. I think Annville-Cleona was very pleased with the effort he gave them in football this fall. I’d like to see him get the ball more. But I don’t think our kids are confident making a pass in there.”
Section Four Standings