ASSUMPTION HILL – There was a time when the Lebanon Catholic boys’ basketball squad was annually one of the top Class A teams in District Three, and could play with schools two and three times bigger than it. It seems that the current version of the Beavers is enjoying a return to their old-school roots, in more ways than one.
On Friday night on its home floor, not only did Lebanon Catholic compete with a bigger school, it also beat it. Senior guard Timmy Orr’s old-fashioned three-point play with three seconds left lifted the Beavers to an exhilarating 70-67 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four victory over Lancaster Mennonite.
Out of a timeout with 13 ticks left, and the game tied at 67, Orr dribbled the ball outside the three-point line and used a screen from teammate John Groh to shed his defender. Orr split a late arriving double-team, went strong to the basket, and with his right hand, was able to get the ball to fall over the Blazers’ last line of defense.
Orr was also fouled on the play and his resulting free throw made it a three-point game. Lancaster Mennonite did get off a three-pointer at the buzzer, but Julian Collazo, who had lit up Catholic for 33 points, was short on his long attempt.
With the win, Lebanon Catholic, the smallest school in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, improved to 6-2 on the year and 2-2 in Section Four. Lancaster Mennonite dropped to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the circuit.
“We were looking for a lay-up or a free throw, and we got both,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Scott Clentimack of the Beavers’ final possession. “Timmy just needs a little bit of room to turn the corner. It’s (the play) called ‘Power’ and that’s the first time we ever executed it the way it was supposed to be. We ran it perfectly.
“Timmy’s like night and day this year,” Clentimack continued. “Look at him, he’s bigger, stronger. He lifted hard in the off-season. Me and him lifted, and I pushed him a little bit. It was mostly lifting, and the natural physical process.”
“It’s just a pick-and-roll play,” said Orr. “It’s designed to get a foul or get to the rim. It worked out well. They (the Blazers) hedged it really well. I decided to split it, and then it was just a one-on-one move, and I got him.”
The contest was a back-and-forth offensive showcase, one in which a six-point lead was huge.
A minute before Orr’s heroics, teammate Anthony Pletz had given the Beavers a 67-65 margin with a baseline basket. And with 2:52 to go, an Orr drive had put Catholic up 65-61.
During a timeout with 4:13 remaining – after Orr had given Lebanon Catholic a 62-56 cushion – Clentimack implored his troops to put the Blazers away. But each time, the Blazers had an answer.
That is, except for Orr’s final basket.
“I give Mennonite credit,” said Clentimack. “When we had a six-point lead, I told our guys if we can get a stop, we can put them away. They made runs, and I knew they would. But we responded. We wanted them to keep playing from behind.
“Our goal is always districts,” added Clentimack. “Leagues is icing on the cake. As long as we continue to play like we can, we can make the league playoffs. But we have an eye on the big picture.
“This was important for a couple of different reasons,” said Orr. “After tonight, we have an 11-day break and we wanted to go into it with a win. Plus they (the Blazers) were undefeated. If we would’ve lost, we would’ve been three games down to them, now we’re only one.
“A lot of it has to do with experience,” Orr added. “For the juniors, it’s their third year of varsity ball. We’re confident this year.”
Orr finished with a team-high 28 points, while blossoming Alex Frattaroli notched 20 points. Given the fact that Anthony Pletz notched 17 points, the Beavers’ ‘Big Three’ were responsible for all but five of their team’s point total.
Collazo got the majority of his 33 points on eight three-point baskets. Time and time again, Collazo knocked down uncontested three-pointers.
“It was bad defense,” Clentimack said. “I don’t think we played very good defense. They (the Blazers) screened for him (Collazo), and we didn’t fight through it. He’s a nice player. In the boxscores, he’s been lighting it up.
“I don’t ever confess to being the smartest guy,” continued Clentimack, “but I knew that’s the kind of game it was going to be. I’ve been following their (the Blazers’) scores, and they were all tight games.”
“I’m more confident because I have a lot more better players around me,” said Orr. “My supporting cast is good. A big thing I worked on during the off-season was my left hand. That and lifting weights, and just trying to get stronger each and everyday.
“I was disappointed with my defense. My guy scored 33 points,” Orr continued. “I didn’t play as well defensively as I could have in the first half. In the second half I got up into him (Collazo) more, and he made some tough shots. I’ve got to give it to him. He’s an amazing player, an amazing shooter.”
After enjoying a four-point margin at the break, Lebanon Catholic upped its advantage to 39-33 on a drive by Frattaroli 1:48 into the second half. But it took a Pletz trey at the third quarter buzzer for the Beavers to maintain their lead into the final stanza.
“I think one of our strengths is our willingness and ability to share the ball,” said Clentimack. “This might be the best team at sharing the ball that I’ve ever had. People think Pletz is only a three-point shooter, but he can get to the rim. Alex (Frattaroli), what can I say? We call him ‘spiderman’. We had him on the perimeter last year, but that’s not his game. It was a real team effort. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
“We’re playing strong defense,” said Orr. “We’re getting a lot of steals, and that’s making our offense go and our whole team go. It starts with defense. We have to work on rebounding. They (the Blazers) definitely beat us on the boards tonight.”
Down 20-19 early in the second stanza, Lebanon Catholic held Lancaster Mennonite without a point for a two-minute stretch. The resulting 7-0 run, which gave the Beavers a 26-20 advantage, was spear-headed by four points from Frattaroli and an Orr trey.
“After eight games, we’ve already surpassed our win total from last year,” said Clentimack. “They (the Blazers) were unbeaten in the section. If they beat us, they have a three-game lead. We kind of threw a monkey wrench into the section. It was big.
“Against Donegal, it was the first time it got handed to us,” Clentimack added. “Before the game, it didn’t seem like we had a lot of energy. But every time I want to learn something about our guys, I learn what I’m looking for. The kids have responded in a way that I really, really wanted them to.”