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What's the difference between a slow start and underachieving? Mid-season improvement. 

IMG_8167BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – You can try, work hard and persevere. But ultimately, that effort must be rewarded.

For it to matter, there must me some sort of pay off.

On Thursday night at Elco High School, in a match up of local boys’ basketball squads seeking to piece together runs to the playoffs, the host Raiders handled rival Northern Lebanon, 59-52. Ironically, the key to the Elco triumph was the same man-to-man defense which will be critical to the Raiders’ postseason chances.

After Northern Lebanon netted the first five points of the contest, Elco rattled off 20 of the next 25 to open a double-digit advantage it would never relinquish.

IMG_8295To this halfway point of the season, the 2016-17 campaign has been a disappointment for both the Raiders and the Viking. But each still has hope. With the outcome, Elco improved to 4-8 overall and 3-4 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, while Northern Lebanon dipped to 4-8 on the season and 2-5 in the section.

“From here on, we’re 1-0 in the second half of the season,” said Elco head coach Brad Conners. “If we take care of business, there’s no reason we can’t make a push towards the playoffs. We have the talent. I’m optimistic, and I’m going to stay optimistic about this group.

“We haven’t made defense a priority,” continued Conners. “We talk about it in practice. There have been times where we wanted to get the rebound and go the other way. But I’ve seen a little different look in their (his players’) eyes lately. I think that’s why the outcome hasn’t been decided.”

“They’re fighting,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George of his group. “It does help that we’re young. The future is bright. We’re almost all juniors. They know they’re all back. But we can’t shoot for next year. We’re right there for the playoffs. If we get there, that would be huge for this team.

IMG_8224“At the beginning of the year, we blew four games,” added George. “In all honesty, we should be 6-6. But we’re not. You are what your record is. We can focus on the positives and we can focus on what’s going right. We gave ourselves a chance at the end (tonight).”

With the rivals locked in a 10-10 deadlock, Raider Kyle Knight drained a three-pointer to close out the opening quarter. The shot sent the Raiders off and winging on a 10-0 run that spilled over into the second period and featured a Ryan Eshleman stick-back, a Mason Bossert drive and a Nate Beamer charity toss.

Then with 2:43 to go before the beak, Bossert nailed a three-ball to give Elco a 27-13 bulge. But Northern Lebanon did end the half with a 6-0 burst, courtesy of trey from Caleb Light, a foul shot by Alex Yeager and a buzzer-beating banker by Henry Hubbard.

IMG_8292“Any time you can beat your rival, it’s a good thing,” said Conners. “It’s a border war. We’ve been struggling to get a win. It was important to get a win, and the fact that it’s Northern Lebanon, it’s just the cherry on top.”

“The effort was pretty good. We didn’t execute consistently,” said George. “The effort was a B-plus. The execution was a C. You’ve got to execute a little better when you’re playing a team as experienced as Elco. Give credit to their big guy (Eshleman). He affected our shots around the rim. He alters shots, but we need to finish better.”

The Vikings pulled to within 29-24 of Elco two minutes into the second half on a Light three-pointer. But the Raiders held Northern Lebanon to just three points over the rest of the third period, while using eight points by Bossert and a hard ‘take’ from Beamer to push their advantage to 39-27.

“The last three games we’ve show signs of improvement on defense,” said Conners. “We’ve been improving defensively and I think you saw that tonight.

“Tomorrow at practice we’re going to talk about Solanco (Saturday’s opponent),” Conners continued, “and talk about how we can get ‘stops’. We’re going to look to hold them under their average. Who knows what happens?”

IMG_8188“If you watched tonight, besides a few breakdowns, we played pretty good defense,” said George. “They (the Raiders) hit some tough shots. They always will. But I think that was one of their lowest point totals of the season. I thought our defense was pretty good, and I thought our offense got better in the second half.”

The teams traded baskets through most of the early moments of the final stanza, before a stick-back by Beamer gave Elco a 54-37 margin with 4:19 to go. Although the Vikings outscored the Raiders 15-5 behind Light and Yeager the rest of the way, the outcome was never in doubt.

“Number one, it’s Northern Lebanon,” said Conners. “Number two, it’s the first game of the second half of the season. We talked about wiping the slate clean. We’re 1-0 starting the second half of the season.

“It’s always a battle playing Northern Lebanon,” Conners added. “They battled to the end. You never know. But you know they’re (the Vikings) not going to quit.”

“Annville-Cleona, Elco and Columbia are the big three for us,” said George. “They’re 50-50 games. We’ve got to get them. I’m measuring ourselves against them. They’re seniors, we’re juniors. But the effort was there. If you relax on the court, Mason (Bossert) is too talented.”

Bossert and Light tied for game-high scoring honors with 25 points apiece. Beamer supported Bossert with 17 points, and Yeager aided Light with 19.

Elco scored 15 two-point baskets compared to the Vikings’ ten.

IMG_8177“We truly are more than a one-man show,” said Conners. “Nate Beamer can go for 30. Ryan Eshleman can score 20 accidentally.

“They’ve (the Vikings) got some really nice pieces,” added Conners. “Him (Michigan Daub) and Eshleman were a good match-up. Eshleman is an energy kid too.”

“Michigan has been playing great for us,” said George. “He was a little bit off tonight. But he’s been our best offensive player. Alex (Yeager) got it going, but he struggled down the stretch. Caleb (Light) was fairly consistent throughout.

“But we need more contributions than just from those three,” George added. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get more out of those other guys.”

IMG_8254Northern Lebanon’s Yeager notched the first five points of the game. But Elco answered with an old-school three-point play from Beamer, a Knight three-pointer and a pair of charity tosses by Bossert.

“Yeah, we can,” said George when asked if his squad can qualify for the District Three tournament. “Obviously this would’ve helped. But in the second half we have all three 50-50 games at home. Our kids are going to be much better. Hopefully we’ll be a different team.

“We have some winnable games,” continued George. “We can get to double-digit wins. We can get six or seven more. I hope we don’t reflect our record. We’re better than that, and so is Elco. They’re (the Raiders) still playing very well. Elco came in playing a little better.”

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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2016-17 Northern Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/09 #
@Donegal
7:30 PM L 46-58
12/10
Susquehannock
6:00 PM
12/13
Middletown
7:30 PM
12/15
@Conrad Weiser
6:00 PM
12/16 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM
12/19 *
Lebanon Catholic
7:00 PM
12/21 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM L 52-61
12/27 #
Schuylkill Valley
7:30 PM W 66-55
12/28 #
Penn Manor
7:30 PM
01/03 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM
01/06 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM
01/10 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM L 50-77
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
01/12 *
@Elco
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/17 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/20 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:00 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/21
Tulpehocken
4:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/24 *
Columbia
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/26
@Manheim Central
7:30 PM Manheim Central High School
01/27 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Pequea Valley High School
01/31 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
02/03 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
02/07 *
Elco
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School

 

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2016-17 Elco Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/09 #
@Cedar Crest
6:00 PM L 63-87
12/10
@Red Lion
6:00 PM
12/13
Manheim Central
7:30 PM L 69-76
12/16 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM L 58-68
12/19 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM
12/21 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM
12/27 #
Palmyra
4:00 PM
12/28
@Oley Valley
4:00 PM
01/03 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM
01/06 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM
01/10 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
01/12 *
Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/17 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/20 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Lancaster Mennonite High School
01/21
@Conrad Weiser
2:30 PM Conrad Weiser High School
01/24 *
Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/25
Middletown
7:30 PM Elco High School
01/27 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Annville-Cleona High School
01/31 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Elco High School
02/03 *
Columbia
7:30 PM Elco High School
02/07 *
@Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School

 

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 PIAA District Three

 Class AAAA Power Rankings

 

AAAA School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP
1 Lancaster Catholic 11- 1- 0  0.770553  0.917969  0.590377
2 Eastern York 10- 2- 0  0.704125  0.870229  0.501110
3 Middletown Area 7- 2- 0  0.670943  0.798942  0.514501
4 Bishop McDevitt 6- 4- 0  0.646995  0.666667  0.622951
5 Berks Catholic 6- 4- 0  0.588139  0.640000  0.524752
6 Wyomissing Area 7- 3- 0  0.579947  0.722826  0.405317
7 Littlestown 6- 4- 0  0.543289  0.627451  0.440425
8 Schuylkill Valley 7- 5- 0  0.505921  0.618421  0.368421
9 Biglerville 6- 6- 0  0.479845  0.512397  0.440059
10 Kennard Dale 6- 8- 0  0.469120  0.470588  0.467326
11 Northern Lebanon 4- 7- 0  0.456670  0.373206  0.558683
12 James Buchanan 4- 9- 0  0.454566  0.367347  0.561166
13 Susquehanna Township 3- 9- 0  0.448967  0.299107  0.632128
14 Eastern Lebanon County 3- 8- 0  0.431483  0.273632  0.624412
15 Hamburg Area 3- 9- 0  0.325663  0.247967  0.420624
16 Boiling Springs 1- 9- 0  0.301363  0.087209  0.563107
17 Bermudian Springs 1- 12- 0  0.298511  0.092369  0.550462
18 Oley Valley 1- 10- 0  0.268358  0.094527  0.480817
19 Susquenita 1- 9- 0  0.265666  0.087156  0.483844

 

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Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Section Three Standings

League Overall
  W L PCT W L PCT PS PA
Lancaster Mennonite 6 0 100.00 12 1 92.31 870 623
Lancaster Catholic 6 0 100.00 11 1 91.67 734 534
Columbia 4 2 66.67 10 2 83.33 767 618
Annville-Cleona 3 3 50.00 9 3 75.00 684 660
Northern Lebanon 2 4 33.33 3 7 30.00 528 572
Elco 2 4 33.33 3 8 27.27 722 701
Pequea Valley 1 5 16.67 5 9 35.71 821 851
Lebanon Catholic 0 6 0.00 3 9 25.00 484 733

 

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