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 BY JEFF FALK

 NEFFSVILLE – In many ways, it’s been a cinderella ride. They’ve been able to accomplish things that other teams haven’t, and things they weren’t sure they could do.

 But this task was difficult like no other. Still the Elco girls’ basketball team had to give it a go.

 On Friday night at Manheim Township High School, in the championship game of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, the Raiders gave it their all, but fell to mighty Lancaster Catholic, 66-42. The Raiders competed hard with the Crusaders for about a half, before Lancaster Catholic began to wear on them physically, mentally and then finally emotionally.

 The Section Four runner-up, Elco’s rare run to the league’s final game featured three straight inspiring wins, including two over Section champions. The Raiders’ runner-up finish, coupled with a league championship in girls’ soccer in the fall, also represented a one-two feat that one single group of core athletes had rarely accomplished in the L-L before.

 Three of 20-5 Elco’s losses this season have come at the hands of Lancaster Catholic. Up next for the Raiders is the District Three Class AAAA tournament, which they will open on Friday at home against Eastern York, as the fifth seed.

 The triumph moved Lancaster Catholic’s unbeaten record to 25-0. The Crusaders are the reigning PIAA Class AAAA champion and haven’t lost a game in two years, in over 50 outings.

 Lancaster Catholic had defeated the Raiders by similar scores during the regular season. On January 18th in Myerstown, the Crusaders bested Elco 68-44, then in Lancaster on February 5th, Lancaster Catholic downed the Raiders 67-31.

 It was Lancaster Catholic’s 14th Lancaster-Lebanon League championship overall.

 “It’s unbelievable when you think of it,” said Elco head coach Ashli Shay of the Raiders’ one-two finish in the league soccer and basketball tournaments. “They’re soccer players. The majority of our kids are soccer-first. We’ve got a couple who are basketball players. We have 17 girls on the roster and three of them play basketball outside of basketball season. This is a group who plays basketball from November to whenever it’s over. It’s just a testament to how hard they work and how they work together.

 “It’s good for us to play teams like them (the Crusaders),” continued Shay. “They’re a team that pushes us. It is what it is. It’s a great opportunity. These kids won’t play against a team like that again.”

 Though the Raiders battled, their challenge was made even more difficult by illness and injury to seniors Ryelle Shuey and Jordan Rosengrant. 

 After Lancaster Catholic tallied the first seven points of the contest, Elco faced an uphill fight the entire way. But the Raiders did battle back to within 10-8 of the lead late in the opening quarter, on free throws from Shuey and Amanda Smith.

 “We talked about trying to slow it down,” said Shay of pregame strategy. “Ninety-nine percent of the teams we play against, we’re yelling, ‘Go, go, go’. We wanted to try to make it a half-court game. They (the Crusaders) make it difficult to have a game plan. We wanted to set our offense and get good shots. But at the end of the day, that’s not in our DNA.

 “They (the Crusaders) force you to make mistakes,” Shay continued. “We were timid. We just weren’t aggressive and confident for 32 minutes. Once they (the Crusaders) get in a run, it’s hard to get out of that slump.”

 Early in the second quarter, the Raiders were still hanging around, thanks to a Kayla Gerber jumper that made it 14-10 and a Katelyn Rueppel free throw that drew Elco to within 16-11.

 But Lancaster Catholic scored six straight points after that, to push its margin to 22-11. The half ended with the Crusaders ahead 31-15.

  “These kids have battled all year,” said Shay. “They didn’t quit. They kept playing. They played to the end. They give you effort for 32 minutes. I’m just extremely proud of the effort.

 “I certainly hoped that it (having played Lancaster Catholic twice before) helped,” added Shay. “We were confident about what they were going to do. You can try to simulate it in practice, but when it’s live it’s a different element. But there were so many unforced turnovers.”

 With Shuey and Rosengrant on the bench, another Elco senior, Julia Nelson, stepped up with a team-high 22 points. At one point in the fourth quarter, while the Raiders were trimming a 32-point deficit down to 57-33, Nelson notched 14 straight Elco points.

 Shuey, who was battling the effects of an illness, picked up her third foul 3:31 into the second quarter. The 5-11 senior forward was whistled for her fourth foul 1:23 into the second half and never returned.

 Crusader superstar KiKi Jefferson poured in 30 points, on 11 field goals and eight-for-ten free throwing. Lancaster Catholic outscored Elco 42-20 on two-pointers.

 “She was out of her mind,” said Shay of Nelson. “We know she can do that. When teams leave her open, she shoots with confidence. It was a great little show she put on.

 “She’s (Shuey) struggling,” Shay added. “She has walking pneumonia. We were down two starters and some size.”

 Lancaster Catholic registered the first seven points of the second half to extend its lead to 38-15. The Crusaders also posted the final eight points of the third quarter to make it a 55-23 game.

 “I think it’s a little different if Rye and Jordan are 100 percent,” said Shay. “But you don’t know. If you let them (the Crusaders) go on a run and your head goes down, you’re in trouble.

 “Nobody likes moral victories,” Shay continued. “To be in the top two of 26 teams in the league, that’s impressive. No one outside of our locker room thought we could do this. For them (her players), it’s fantastic to be here.”

 

 

 

 

 To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 2018-19 Elco Girls’ Basketball Results
 
 
 
Date Opponents Outcomes  
12/07
6:00 pm
Susquehanna Township
Elco
at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament
22
46
 
12/08
7:30 pm
Elco
Middletown
at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament
46
55
 
12/11
7:30 pm
Fleetwood
at Elco
24
34
 
12/14
7:30 pm
Cocalico
at Elco
39
57
 
12/17
7:30 pm
Elco
at Manheim Central
49
33
 
12/19
7:30 pm
Solanco
at Elco
39
40
 
12/21
7:30 pm
Elco
at Lampeter-Strasburg
32
39
 
12/27
4:30 pm
Elco
Pine Grove
at Pine Grove Holiday Tournament
47
30
 
12/28
6:00 pm
Elco
Kennett
at Pine Grove Holiday Tournament
43
36
 
1/04
7:00 pm
Octorara
at Elco
12
75
 
1/08
7:30 pm
Elco
at Donegal
63
59
 
1/11
6:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
31
19
 
1/12
2:30 pm
Elco
at Lebanon
51
28
 
1/15
7:30 pm
Elco
at York Catholic
51
46
 
1/18
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Elco
68
44
 
1/22
7:00 pm
Elco
at Octorara
68
13
 
1/25
7:30 pm
Donegal
at Elco
59
78
 
1/26
6:30 pm
Elco
at Oley Valley
50
27
 
2/01
7:30 pm
Garden Spot
at Elco
38
54
 
2/02
1:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
49
26
 
2/05
7:30 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Catholic
31
67
 
2/07
6:00 pm
Elco
Ephrata
at Garden Spot
61
44
 
2/09
7:00 pm
Elco
at Solanco
55
38
 
2/13
7:30 pm
Elco
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
36
34
 
2/15
7:00 pm
Lancaster Catholic
Elco
at Manheim Township
   
2/22
7:00 pm
Eastern York
at Elco
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 PIAA District Three
 Final Class AAAAA Power Rankings
 
AAAA School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP  TWPW  OWPW  TWPL  OWPL
1 Lancaster Catholic 21- 0- 0  0.809768  1.000000  0.577262  23.4  265.1  0.0  194.1
2 Bishop McDevitt 19- 2- 0  0.800883  0.930283  0.642726  21.4  298.5  1.6  165.9
3 Kennard Dale 20- 2- 0  0.751993  0.922131  0.544046  22.5  258.2  1.9  216.4
4 Eastern Lebanon County 17- 4- 0  0.713756  0.834452  0.566239  18.7  260.3  3.7  199.4
5 Eastern York 15- 7- 0  0.681454  0.732906  0.618568  17.2  301.2  6.3  185.7
6 Big Spring 14- 6- 0  0.629746  0.740196  0.494750  15.1  212.1  5.3  216.6
7 Bermudian Springs 15- 7- 0  0.614414  0.679545  0.534809  15.0  248.9  7.1  216.5
8 Susquehanna Township 11- 11- 0  0.603616  0.570455  0.644147  12.6  315.6  9.5  174.4
9 Wyomissing 14- 8- 0  0.587937  0.685990  0.468094  14.2  217.5  6.5  247.2
10 Northern Lebanon 13- 9- 0  0.570943  0.637778  0.489256  14.4  232.3  8.2  242.5
11 Oley Valley 14- 8- 0  0.544753  0.628959  0.441835  13.9  200.4  8.2  253.1
12 West Perry 11- 11- 0  0.511226  0.506637  0.516836  11.5  237.2  11.2  221.7
13 Fleetwood 9- 12- 0  0.511012  0.486420  0.541069  9.9  239.5  10.4  203.1
14 James Buchanan 11- 11- 0  0.490770  0.532895  0.439285  12.2  193.0  10.7  246.4
15 Schuylkill Valley 11- 11- 0  0.490253  0.537209  0.432862  11.6  196.0  10.0  256.8
16 Littlestown 9- 13- 0  0.468523  0.405963  0.544984  8.9  258.1  13.0  215.5
17 Boiling Springs 9- 12- 0  0.468042  0.461358  0.476212  9.9  212.2  11.5  233.4
18 Middletown Area 7- 13- 0  0.453423  0.379227  0.544107  7.9  231.3  12.9  193.8
19 Hamburg Area 8- 14- 0  0.417688  0.386473  0.455840  8.0  212.9  12.7  254.2
20 Octorara Area 0- 21- 0  0.267241  0.000000  0.593869  0.0  249.0  19.9  170.3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Lancaster-Lebanon League
 Final Section Four Standings
 
 
  League Overall
  W L PCT W L PCT PF PA
Lancaster Catholic 13 0 100.00 25 0 100.00 1658 909
Elco 10 3 76.92 20 5 83.33 1191 895
Northern Lebanon 7 6 53.85 13 9 59.09 928 764
Donegal 4 9 30.77 10 12 45.45 1209 1162
Octorara 0 13 0.00 0 22 0.00 403 1378
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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