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BY JEFF FALK

SOUTH LEBANON – It’s good to be tall.

But Jason Eberhart and Ileri Ayo-Faleye are more than just tall. In much the same way that the Cedar Crest boys’ basketball team is more than just Ayo-Faleye and Eberhart.

Eberhart and Ayo-Faleye are a pair of 6-7 senior ‘bigs’ who play the game of basketball in different ways. During the regular season, their play-making abilities and the difficult match-ups they present for opponents were big reasons Cedar Crest went 19-3 and won the championship of Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

While they will make Cedar Crest a tough out in the upcoming postseason, Ayo-Faleye and Eberhart are looking for a little more than just that.

“We’re a lot more than our size,” said Ayo-Faleye, speaking to the Falcons’ team concept. “Every one of our players is skilled. At the end of the day, it’s who wants it more. We’re nowhwere near done or satisfied. We want to raise that bar. Not only do we want to put a league championship up there (in the rafters), we want to put a district championship up there.”

“I think it’s a pretty big compliment if that’s what they’re thinking of,” said Eberhart, of how teams prepare for the Falcons. “It’s hard to guard two 6-7 kids. It presents a lot of challenges.”

On Monday at 7 p.m., within the friendly confines of ‘The Cage’, the Falcons will be the overall top seed when they open their quest for a Lancaster-Lebanon League championship, against Section Three runner-up Cocalico.

On Friday, February 21st, Cedar Crest will host either Central Dauphin or Manheim Township in the quarterfinals of the PIAA District Three Class AAAAAA tournament. The Falcons are seeded third for that event, and are guaranteed at least two district playoff contests. If they win either of them, they will earn a trip to the PIAA postseason.

Eberhart and Ayo-Faleye have promised to bring their ‘A’ games for both events, within Cedar Crest’s team concept.

“We’re tough to match-up against, especially when we’re playing together,” said Eberhart. “He’s outside and I’m down low. It gives teams challenges, and we find each other a lot. A lot of teams try to get to the basket, but it’s hard against us. They kind of see us, and back it right back out.

“I definitely think it’s an advantage,” Eberhart continued. “In the L-L, not every team can match our size. We try to pound the ball inside. But we know teams in districts are going to have the size to match up with us, so we need to work all the aspects of our game.

“I would say our advantage is being a better team,” said Ayo-Faleye. “Our depth is our advantage. It’s in our numbers, our game plan, our coahces. Height only gets you so far in basketball. If you’re not making plays, you’re not doing anything for your team. I like feeding off my teammates. We’re strong. We play for each other. That’s what gives us our advantage.”

During the regular season, Ayo-Faleye and Eberhart were first and third, respectively, for the Falcons in scoring. Ayo-Faleye averages right around 14 points per outing, while Eberhart scores at a 10 points-per-game clip.

They also can block shots, change shots and rebound, on both ends of the floor.

“The thing that makes Jason a great player is his attitude on the court,” said Ayo-Faleye. “Sometimes things don’t go his way, but he pushes through. He’s all about winning. His energy is contagious. The way he plays improves our chances of winning every night. He loves the game. We’re seniors. We want it.

“We’re both inside-out players,” Ayo-Faleye continued. “We both like to get to the rim, but we’re versatile. His post moves are better than mine.”

“Ileri is easily the most athletic guy in all of District Three,” said Eberhart. “He’s 6-7. He can shoot and he can play inside, and he can dunk. He’s so passionate about the game. He’s always trying to improve.”

Eberhart and Ayo-Faleye are two different people, who have two different demeanors and who approach the game in two different ways. That’s what makes the Falcons overall a difficult check. But they are more similar than different.

Eberhart is more cerebral, he likes to play with his back to the basket and he’s very instinctual and active around the rim. Ayo-Faleye is more physical, he prefers to face the basket and he is all but unstoppable in the open floor.

“I think a lot of people think I’m a post player and rebounder,” said Eberhart. “I can do a lot more. I think I’m a really good passer.

“When I play Ileri in practice, I try to give him a step,” continued Eberhart. “He’s so explosive. He can blow by anyone. I just try to contest him at the rim.”

“First and foremost, I want to be a leader,” said Ayo-Faleye. “I’m a senior. I want to be in the position of leading this team. When things go bad, I want to be a person to lean on. I’m just trying to be the best player I can be.”

More than simply teammates, Ayo-Faleye and Eberhart’s personal relationship off the court has evolved into a friendship. That has helped Cedar Crest’s chemistry and their understanding of each other on the court.

“He’s a high character kid,” said Ayo-Faleye of Eberhart. “Off the court, we’re good friends. On the court, we’re best friends. I feed off his energy, and we want everyone to feed off our energy.”

“I think last year, we were just teammates,” said Eberhart. “Over the summer, we became really close and it’s helped on the court. It’s respect. We have mutual respect for each other’s games.”

For some, Cedar Crest may be overachieving a little bit this season. But this version of the Eberhart/Ayo-Faleye -led Falcons is just the latest product of one of Lebanon County’s most successful sports programs.

“We had really high expectations at the beginning of the season,” said Eberhart. “The first goal is always to win the section. Now we want to win leagues and districts. I think every one of the seniors on the team has stepped up.

“We’ve definitely been playing good all year,” added Eberhart. “But we always want to raise the level of our play. We want to improve every day.”

“Coming into seasons, I’m always confident we can do well as a team,” said Ayo-Faleye. “I thought we were going to be very competitive. I trust my teammates. They put in the work during the off-season. We’re just trying to get better every day. Personally, I wanted to take big leaps forward in my game.

“I think it’s trust,” added Ayo-Faleye. “We all trust each other. We don’t play for ourselves. We play for each other. It shows on the court and it shows in life.”

Win, lose or draw, Cedar Crest’s marvelous season is winding down. But what happens from here on out will determine the Falcons’ legacy and how they will inspire future generations of CC ballers.

“For the postseason, we have to keep on progressing,” said Ayo-Faleye. “We’ve been growing as a team. Every team needs to raise the level of intensity for the playoffs. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s just a different game, a different beast. I think we’re ready.”

“Right now, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time,” said Eberhart. “I’m a senior, but we’re trying to build a legacy here. Hopefully it won’t come to an end for a while.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2019-20 Cedar Crest Boys’ Basketball Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
12/06
6:00 pm
Red Land
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
29
70

Nonleague
12/07
7:30 pm
Elco
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
55
59

Nonleague
12/09
7:30 pm
Wyomissing
at Cedar Crest
47
59

Nonleague
12/13
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Elizabethtown
45
41

League
12/16
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
55
57

League
12/18
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Ephrata
57
26

League
12/20
7:30 pm
Warwick
at Cedar Crest
50
55

League
12/21
7:00 pm
Cedar Crest
at Palmyra
60
40

Nonleague
12/27
7:30 pm
Oxford
at Cedar Crest
38
51

Nonleague
12/28
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
49
59

Nonleague
1/02
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Conestoga Valley
52
46

League
1/04
4:30 pm
Cedar Crest
Lower Dauphin
at Lebanon Valley College
46
58

Nonleague
1/08
7:30 pm
Hempfield
at Cedar Crest
47
61

League
1/10
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Penn Manor
70
40

League
1/11
3:00 pm
Cedar Crest
Bishop McDevitt
at Manheim Central
58
55

Nonleague
1/14
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at McCaskey
48
62

League
1/17
7:30 pm
Manheim Township
at Cedar Crest
49
58

League
1/22
7:30 pm
Carlisle
at Cedar Crest
43
56

Nonleague
1/24
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Hempfield
56
51

League
1/28
7:30 pm
Penn Manor
at Cedar Crest
52
65

League
1/31
7:30 pm
McCaskey
at Cedar Crest
52
53

League
2/04
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township
42
61

League
2/10
7:00 pm
TBA
at Cedar Crest

PIAA District Three

Class AAAAAA Power Rankings

AAAAAASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1Wilson21-1-0 0.845174 0.970930 0.691473 25.1 331.3 0.8 147.8
2Central York18-3-0 0.776569 0.897704 0.628515 21.5 288.3 2.5 170.4
3Reading15-5-0 0.765355 0.825581 0.691744 17.8 297.5 3.8 132.6
4Cedar Crest19-3-0 0.757192 0.906375 0.574857 22.8 267.1 2.4 197.5
5Central Dauphin16-5-0 0.745888 0.838013 0.633290 19.4 291.3 3.8 168.7
6Cumberland Valley17-4-0 0.744994 0.874214 0.587060 20.9 265.9 3.0 187.0
7Warwick17-4-0 0.735487 0.861635 0.581305 20.6 262.8 3.3 189.3
8J P McCaskey15-7-0 0.720336 0.773859 0.654918 18.7 306.6 5.5 161.6
9Chambersburg Area15-6-0 0.699255 0.796976 0.579817 18.5 259.7 4.7 188.2
10Harrisburg13-7-0 0.698244 0.751185 0.633537 15.9 269.0 5.3 155.6
11Governor Mifflin13-9-0 0.691726 0.692478 0.690807 15.7 338.2 7.0 151.4
12Manheim Township13-8-0 0.682612 0.720824 0.635908 15.8 291.9 6.1 167.1
13Central Dauphin East13-8-0 0.670731 0.702407 0.632015 16.1 286.1 6.8 166.6
14Exeter Township13-9-0 0.658504 0.681193 0.630774 14.9 301.1 7.0 176.3
15Dallastown13-9-0 0.651956 0.680617 0.616926 15.5 289.4 7.3 179.7
16Lebanon12-10-0 0.609652 0.642857 0.569067 14.4 270.3 8.0 204.7
17Waynesboro Area12-9-0 0.596010 0.633570 0.550103 13.4 253.9 7.8 207.7
18Red Lion10-12-0 0.566625 0.533019 0.607699 11.3 285.0 9.9 184.0
19Carlisle7-14-0 0.546481 0.451697 0.662328 8.7 307.9 10.5 157.0
20Penn Manor8-14-0 0.530882 0.463054 0.613782 9.4 296.2 10.9 186.4
21HEMPFIELD6-16-0 0.504876 0.365979 0.674639 7.1 331.5 12.3 159.9
22Conestoga Valley7-15-0 0.482745 0.401515 0.582027 8.0 276.6 11.9 198.6
23York County School Of Technology4-15-0 0.305387 0.197403 0.437369 3.8 176.9 15.5 227.5

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Final Section One Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTPFPA
Cedar Crest1120.8461930.86412381046
McCaskey1030.7691570.68215261310
Manheim Township760.5381380.61912001075
Hempfield490.3086160.27310091165
Penn Manor3100.2318140.36410661230

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