BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – There’s plenty of time. The season’s still young.
They know what they’re doing. They’ll get a handle on it.
All the parts are present. They just have to figure out how they fit together.
But the Raiders have some work to do.
On Saturday night, during the consolation contest of the 18th annual Lebanon Booster Club Tip-off Tournament, the Elco boys’ basketball team took a small step forward, just not on the scoreboard. The Raiders endured their second loss in as many nights, this time a 55-44 setback to Red Lion.
While Elco competed well in spurts, it struggled to score points at crucial junctures of the game. The Raiders are now 0-2 overall, while Red Lion moved to 1-1.
“We looked at our first give games, and we knew it was going to be difficult,” said Elco head coach Brad Conners. “There’s no doubt we’re going to get better. Nobody’s panicking yet. The kids came out and played hard together. They fought.
“We need to get better at taking care of the ball,” Conners continued. “Eliminating careless turnovers. Careless turnovers will kill you. It’s those types of turnovers we need to eliminate.”
With the game tied at 37 early in the final quarter, the Raiders’ initial win was very much within reach. But Elco endured a 4:36 scoring drought down the stretch, and saw its chances go by the wayside.
During that time, Red Lion notched ten points to open a 4 7-37 lead, with 1:40 to go. The Raiders did come within 48-42, on a Devin Stoops three-pointer and a Mason Bossert leaner, but then didn’t score the rest of the way.
“There were some good things that happened tonight,” said Conners. “All the way to the end, they (his players) had energy and bounce in their steps. We’ll hang our hat on that.
“We started strong,” continued Conners. “We kind of took a stumble in the second quarter. We’re still trying to find ourselves. We’re still trying to find our bench. We’re still looking for that second and third scorer.”
The Raiders encountered a similar scoring drought in the third quarter, this one 4:39 in length, during which the Lions turned a 27-22 deficit into a 32-27 advantage. But Elco started the fourth period with eight straight points – five from Bossert and a three-pointer by Jeffrey Lorah – to pull even.
“I think we need to get something around the basket, in the paint,” said Conners. “We had a couple shots that just rimmed out. I think right now, Mason puts a lot of pressure on himself to do things. That’s very difficult to do by yourself. (Nate) Beamer’s role is different this year. We’re asking him to do a little more. But through the struggles, we’ll fix it.
“Offensively, it felt like we were better in the first half,” added Conners. “We struggled down the stretch. We scored six points in the third quarter.”
Despite not shooting the ball well, Bossert led Elco with 20 points. The 6-0 senior guard was named to the all-tournament team.
But the Raiders converted just nine two-point baskets and attempted only three free throws all night.
“We were way better early,” said Conners of his side’s defense. “We gave up nine points in the first quarter, and only three came in the paint. Offensively, we struggled a little bit. But I don’t recall too many guys hitting the boards.
“We knew our schedule was going to be tough,” Conners added. “This is what we wanted. We’ll be better down the stretch. This is good for us.”
Bossert tallied the final four points of the opening stanza to stake Elco to a 15-9 lead. The Raiders’ biggest advantage of the evening came at 20-11, 5:18 before the break, on a Bossert drive to the ‘cup’.
But Red Lion concluded the first half on a 9-3 run.
“We want to win our section,” said Conners. “But the goal is right in front of us, to get better everyday. That’s it right now. Improve offensively, defensively, as a team, chemistry-wise. We’re not going to put the cart before the horse. But this is a tough tournament.”
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|12/04 #||@Muhlenberg||6:00 PM||W 78-35|
|12/05 #||@Lebanon||7:30 PM||W 61-60|
|12/09||Conestoga Valley||7:30 PM||W 69-61|
|12/11 *||Lebanon Catholic||7:30 PM||W 69-55|
|12/14 *||@Columbia||7:30 PM||W 80-59|
|12/16 *||Lancaster Catholic||7:30 PM||W 67-51|
|12/18 *||@Cocalico||7:30 PM||W 61-57|
|12/21 *||Lampeter-Strasburg||7:30 PM||L 42-62|
|12/23 *||Manheim Central||7:30 PM||W 72-50|
|12/28 #||@Mahanoy Area||6:00 PM||W 70-42|
|12/29 #||@Nativity BVM||7:30 PM||W 74-44|
|01/05 *||@Northern Lebanon||7:30 PM||W 83-57|
|01/08 *||Donegal||7:30 PM||L 68-70|
|01/09||Tulpehocken||7:30 PM||W 72-30|
|01/11 *||@Pequea Valley||7:30 PM||W 80-54|
|01/13 *||Annville-Cleona||7:30 PM||W 61-30|
|01/15 *||@Lancaster Mennonite||7:30 PM||W 65-47|
|01/19 *||Cocalico||7:30 PM||W 64-50|
|01/22 *||@Lampeter-Strasburg||4:00 PM||L 60-70|
|01/28 *||Northern Lebanon||7:30 PM||W 72-52|
|01/29 *||@Manheim Central||7:30 PM||W 52-47|
|02/02 *||@Donegal||7:30 PM||W 68-60|
|02/06 #||@McCaskey||6:00 PM||L 55-71|
|02/16 #||Steel-High||7:00 PM||W 80-58|
|02/19 #||@Eastern York||6:00 PM||L 63-64|
|02/22||Berks Catholic||6:00 PM||W 63-52|
|02/25||@Gettysburg||6:30 PM||W 74-66|
|03/04 #||Neumann-Goretti||7:30 PM||Archbishop Ryan High School|
LEBANON SPORTS BUZZ’s
Preseason All-Lebanon County Boys’ Basketball Rankings
1. Cedar Crest
3. Lebanon High
5. Northern Lebanon
7. Lebanon Catholic
Lebanon Sports Buzz’s
Preseason All-Lebanon County Boys’ Basketball Team
Isaac Blatt of Palmyra; Mason Bossert of Elco; Cole Laney of Cedar Crest; Shaquell Ortiz of Lebanon; Noah Myers of Annville-Cleona