BY JEFF FALK
HERSHEY – The Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team has never experienced difficulties taking care of its business on the court. Where the Falcons have run into trouble is staying hungry and humble off of it.
Yesterday, for the first time this season, the Falcons’ off-court extra-curricular activities adversely affected their on-court performance.
It is not a shame that Cedar Crest isn’t the best Class AAAA basketball team in District Three. The shame is that no one will never know whether or not the Falcons are.
On Saturday afternoon at Giant Center, a Falcon club ravaged by disciplinary suspensions put forth a gallant and valiant effort, before falling to York High 56-53, in the District Three Class AAAA championship game. With suspended senior teammates captain Andrew Eberhart, captain Josh Bucher, Jimmy Kern and Marq Kintzer watching from the CCHS student section, Cedar Crest played its collective heart out, then left it on the floor.
Despite its short bench, Cedar Crest still had a chance to win it down the stretch. Down 55-53 with 12 seconds remaining, Falcon star Evan Horn was whistled for a charge, on a hard, bang-bang play in the lane. It was Horn who had, 18 seconds earlier, pulled the Falcons to within two points of the Bearcats with a huge trey.
Actually, Cedar Crest trailed 50-42 with 1:51 to go, before Nick Miller scored on a drive, Horn hit a different ‘three’ and Dom Garloff completed a three-point play to move the Falcons to within 52-50, with 50 seconds remaining.
Friday’s suspension of Eberhart, Bucher and Kintzer for reportedly posting a tasteless rap video on social media was the latest of three disciplinary actions taken against the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team this season. Kern has not played since the semifinal of the Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament.
Cedar Crest High School principal Nicole Malinoski, assistant principal John Schaeffer and athletic director Rob Snyder declined to comment on the suspensions, citing legal and student-privacy concerns. When asked if the prior 24 hours had been the toughest time during his tenure as Cedar Crest’s head coach, Tom Smith replied, ‘easily’.
“I feel frustration, on behalf of the kids who make good choices,” said Smith. “I don’t want to talk about the kids who didn’t play today.
“I think they (Eberhart and Bucher) will be back,” added Smith. “I’m not 100 percent sure about all the penalties. We’re not allowed to talk about suspensions. I really don’t want to be a jerk.”
“We just wanted to prove we were more of a team, and not individual players,” said Garloff. “I thought it (the suspensions) made us stick together more.”
The result was the second controversial loss to York High in the District Three Class AAAA championship game in as many years for the Falcons. Top-seeded Cedar Crest, which has never won a District Three championship in the sport, had fallen to the Bearcats 54-52 in last season’s district final.
The Falcons will head into next week’s PIAA Class AAAA with a 26-3 overall mark and a cloud of ambiguity hanging over their heads. Cedar Crest will take on the sixth-place finisher out of District One, Lower Merion, on Saturday at Lebanon High School.
York High improved to 25-4 on the season.
“The best team won today,” said Smith. “The best team on the court won.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Smith added. “They battled their butts off. We didn’t adjust anything. We do what we do. We put a little more emphasis on offensive possessions.”
“I don’t think we changed our game plan at all,” said Garloff. “One thing we didn’t have was 6-7 (Eberhart). We just kept it going. We have the mentality, ‘Next man up’.”
After York High had used some full-court pressure and transition offense to torch the Falcons for 24 third-quarter points, Horn got Cedar Crest back on track early in the final stanza, with back-to-back drives that knotted the score at 40. But the Bearcats answered with the next eight points to take a 48-40 advantage they would never relinquish.
“I don’t think we ran out of gas,” said Smith. “We didn’t handle their pressure very well. That was the difference in the basketball game. I don’t think it had anything to do with fatigue.
“They’re (the Bearcats) so good, one-to-five on the court,” Smith added. “Our biggest thing was making them play half court, and in the first half we did a good job of that. But we didn’t do as good of a job in the second half. They’re at their best in transition.”
“The way I was approaching it today, I was going to leave it all out on the court,” said Garloff. “I was going to go a hundred miles an hour.”
The Falcons led 26-18 moments into the second half, on a stick back from Horn and a Garloff charity toss. But York High, which appeared a step quicker in the second half, outscored Cedar Crest 22-10 over the next six minutes of action to forge a 40-36 advantage.
“They’re as mentally tough as any team I’ve every coached,” said Smith of his troops. “They’re one great group of guys. We told them, ‘Don’t have any regrets’.”
Horn, an unselfish player who defers to teammates until he is needed, was simply spectacular. The 6-1 competitor handled the ball, rebounded on both ends of the floor, got teammates involved and posted a game-high 21 points, on a trio of three-pointers. With 14 points, the under rated Miller had his back.
On 14-of-22 shooting, the Bearcats outscored the Falcons by five points at the foul stripe. Cedar Crest out rebounded bigger York 35-30.
“It looked like he went to the rack. It looked like he was pushed in the back,” said Smith of the charge called on Horn with 12 seconds to go. “He’s special. He’s made plays the entire year. He just does what he does. He played the entire game with foul trouble.
“Nick (Miller) is always at the right place at the right time,” Smith added. “He’s a very unheralded player. He had another terrific game.”
Feeding off emotion and its in-your-face man-to-man defense, Cedar Crest put on a clinic of inspired team basketball in the first half. Miller tallied four points, Horn drained a three-pointer, Soren Frost contributed a bucket and Garloff scored off the dribble, as the Falcons raced out to an 11-2 lead five minutes in.
“My feeling was that these guys were motivated to play,” said Smith. “I was happy with the bench we had. We took the approach, ‘Let’s do what we do’.”
Cedar Crest scored seven unanswered points in a matter of a minute in the middle of the second period, to open up a 21-10 advantage. Raymie Ferriera worked inside for a deuce, Garloff connected from distance and Miller laid in a pair.
But York High closed the half on a 6-2 burst to trim its intermission deficit to 23-16.
“It’s tough,” said Garloff of the late charge call that went against Horn and the Falcons. “I would’ve let them play. I thought he got shoved, but it was tough to call.”
On a number of occassions throughout the contest, the Falcon student section chanted in unison ‘Hope, you’re happy’, in the direction of the members of the Cedar Crest administration in attendance.
|6:30 PM||W 62-44|
|5:00 PM||W 70-60|
|7:30 PM||W 50-48|
|7:30 PM||W 65-27|
|7:30 PM||W 68-53|
|7:30 PM||W 74-45|
|7:30 PM||W 57-48|
|7:30 PM||W 46-43|
|7:30 PM||W 80-61|
|7:30 PM||W 53-42|
|7:30 PM||W 58-56|
|7:30 PM||W 55-33|
|7:30 PM||W 45-44|
|7:30 PM||W 66-23|
|7:30 PM||W 67-52|
|7:30 PM||W 59-42|
|7:30 PM||L 54-58|
|7:30 PM||W 58-54|
|7:30 PM||W 52-38|
|7:30 PM||L 57-60|
|7:30 PM||W 72-43|
|8:00 PM||W 68-46|
|7:00 PM||W 56-33|
|7:00 PM||W 45-40|
|7:00 PM||W 70-66|
|8:00 PM||W 52-38|
|1:00 PM||W 76-49|
|8:00 PM||W 58-49|
|1:00 PM||L 53-56|