Andy's Take!

ED Note: LLhoops welcomes Andy Herr. An ex-Warwick player, Andy gives LLhoops a new veiwpoint. Enjoy! @andybrackets

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Jan 9-15

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Week of Jan 30 - Feb 10

CV Seniors Go Out On Top With 56-48 Win Over Penn Manor On Senior Night

Senior night. If there is one night that can be both the most dreaded yet the most joyous, this most definitely is it. In one aspect, coaches and players have to come to the realization that this will be the last time they ever lace ‘em up and put on the white jerseys in front of the home crowd, while at the same time being acknowledged for their years of service and commitment to the program. For the 2017 Conestoga Valley basketball senior class, their last rendezvous did not go as they would have liked as far as the wins and losses are concerned, but make no mistake about it, they can certainly look back with pride on the positive imprint they have left on the Buckskin program. A list of accolades that includes winning a Section 2 championship in 2015, and making it back to back trips to the postseason last with appearances in both the LL and District 3 playoffs last year. For them, their last game ever at Rill Gymnasium would take place this past Monday night against Penn Manor, another team that was equally hungry to end their season on a high note.

Although the game got out to a slow start with both teams turning it over, the Bucks were able to right the ship first as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead fittingly with buckets by seniors Theo Blantz and Sean Holmes before Colin Morrison got the Comets on the board with a bucket with 3:20 to go in the opening quarter.

After they had their initial lead cut to 2, CV responded by eventually going up by 10 with treys by Grant Stoltzfus and Theo Blantz before a pair of free throws by Logan Monroe made it 12-2 Buckskins. Penn Manor would then be able to get it under double digits when Drew Greenawalt nailed a trey of his own, but CV had the answer with the Monroe connection as Austin kicked it out to Logan, left alone in the corner, for the triple to push the lead back up to 10 at 15-5 to close the first quarter.

Logan Monroe stayed hot to open the second quarter as the junior splashed another one from downtown as the early Buckskin dominance rolled on. Fortunately for the squad from Millersville, Cameron Lovett was there to get the Comets back into it by starting outside with a trey and then following that up with a bucket inside to trim the Buckskin lead to 8 at 20-12.

The Comets then got even closer when a traditional 3 point play from Greenawalt suddenly made it a two possession game with CV maintaining the 20-15 cushion with 4:30 left in the opening half. Conestoga Valley would be able to keep the Comets at arm’s length to close it out when a lob play to Austin Monroe turned into a 3 point play as the junior guard got the hoop plus the contact to make it 23-19 Bucks with 3 minutes remaining with the Bucks adding 2 more to make it a 25-19 CV lead at the break.

Coming out of the intermission, Penn Manor got back into the thick of things as buckets by Colin Morrison and a Cameron Lovett jumper helped cut CV’s lead to 25-23 with just one minute having expired off the clock. Penn Manor would then officially come all the way back when senior guard Mike Hreben was money from behind the arc to put the Comets in front for the first time all night at 26-25. The Comet lead would not last for long however as Ll’Rae Robinson drove to the tin and finished through the contact and promptly finished off the 3 point play to put the Bucks back in front at 28-26.

CV would then expand upon their lead when Robinson continued to step up on his senior night by showing he has touch from outside as well by hitting the trifecta and having fellow senior Jalen Ransing bully his way to the bucket for the Buckskin deuce to put CV up 33-28.

Try as they might, CV was not able to put Penn Manor away as the Comets came back to tie it up at 33-33 when Mike Hreben hit his second trey of the quarter, and eventually having the bigger number on the scoreboard after Cameron Lovett sank 4 free throws in a row to put PM up 37-36, although CV would have the final say of the quarter as the Bucks led 38-37 at the end of 3.

Playing with the lead, CV began to stir up the makings of a final close-out when Logan Monroe drove along the baseline and finished at the cup to put the Bucks up 6 at 43-37 with 5:28 to go. CV then made it an 8 point ballgame with Theo Blantz making good on his trip to the foul stripe by going 2-2 to make it 47-39 Bucks with 3:10 left in the season.

Penn Manor would try to claw back in it when Cameron Lovett hit a turnaround jumper for the Comets to make it 48-41, but CV pushed the lead back up to 9 at 50-41 with 1:15 left after a pair of Austin Monroe freebies, and Logan Monroe later following suit to make it a 10 point Buckskin lead at 53-43. From there, CV was able to put the finishing touches on a 56-48 victory to close the 2016-2017 campaign, while also adding to their sensational end of the season by winning 3 of 4 against fellow Section 1 opponents.

Although the Buckskins lose a bevy of senior talent and leadership off of this year’s squad, CV will bring back arguably the most talented duo in all of the LL next year in Austin and Logan Monroe. Two critical pieces of the puzzle that will play into Conestoga Valley’s quest to keep the Rill rockin’ and make good on a return trip to the postseason this time next year.

Ephrata Withstands High Tide To Move On In 43-39 Victory over Columbia

Playoff time. There’s really nothing quite like it. It doesn’t matter what the level, high school, college, professional, every team dreams of advancing to play in the postseason. Although every squad starts out with aspirations to ultimately “survive and advance,” only those who truly earn it throughout the regular seasons are invited to do so. As far as the LL basketball landscape is concerned, two teams that fit that description to dance in the league playoffs were Ephrata out of Section 2, and Columbia who would be carrying the banner for Section 3 on Friday night at Conestoga Valley. After 32 minutes, one thing became perfectly clear. If Friday’s appetizer is to serve as any indication of what the main course may turn out to be, LL fans are sure to rate this year’s playoffs with 5 star service come this Friday night when a new champion is crowned.

Columbia opened the game by scoring the first 6 points of the contest capped off by Jaden Neal’s sweet reverse finish at the rim to put the Tide up by half a dozen just over the halfway point of the first quarter. Exceptional Crimson Tide defense around the rim and cold shooting from the Mounts helped contribute to the early Columbia bulge, but the Mounts would respond with a Xavian Rodriguez lay in off transition to make it a 6-2 ballgame in favor of Columbia before Micah Krauter made his introduction with a putback later on, and then tallying three blocks the ensuing Tide trip down the floor to help ignite the Ephrata comeback which concluded the first quarter of action with Columbia in front with the 7-4 lead.

Ephrata officially completed the comeback with Brendan Holbritter’s triple to start the second quarter, but Columbia had other intentions as the Tide ripped off the next 6 points to answer with Jaden Neal being an key factor as the junior guard drove to the rim to make it 11-7, and later dished it off to Elijah Swanigan to make the 6-0 run complete with 5:30 to go in the half.

Much like they did in the first quarter, Ephrata refused to back down from the challenge and they would once again meet Columbia on the scoreboard later on. The Mount march began with Brad DaBella’s traditional 3 point play which made it 15-10 Columbia before Micah Krauter got the Mounts within a point at 15-14 with a nice move inside. DaBella would later help Ephrata overtake the lead from the opposition with a straight on trey and a follow off a missed shot to send Ephrata into the halftime break with the 21-17 advantage.

Playing with the lead for the majority of the first half, Columbia was determined to keep playing from the front and it showed with Jaden Neal’s steal and finish right off the bat to get the Tide back into a one possession ballgame at 21-19. The score would later show 21-21 following Tyler Harman’s spot up jumper for the Tide, but junior sharp-shooter Brendan Holbritter pumped in another 3 ball to put Ephrata back in the catbird’s seat at 24-21.

Including Holbritter’s trifecta, the Mounts closed the third frame on an 11-2 run that featured two buckets by the ever-crafty Micah Krauter, and a Xavian Rodriguez lay in which put the capper on the run to conclude the quarter with Ephrata in control leading 32-23.

With the final quarter set to begin, it was now Columbia’s turn to mount a charge, which they did in spades. Junior guard Meleik Crenshaw got things started with a bucket plus the foul, before Tyler Harman got in on the act as well by knocking down two freebies from the stripe to trim Ephrata’s lead to 33-29 with 4:40 left to play.

The Tide attack kept coming as Elijah Swanigan’s lay in made it a 2 point game, before Jaden Neal pulled one out from behind his head, literally, as the 6’1 junior flipped it backward expecting contact, but earned an even greater prize with the highlight deuce to tie things up at 33-33 and send the Columbia fans into a frenzy now under the 3 minute mark. The Crimson Tide fans got even louder when they saw their team take the lead back after Andrew Sheckard’s clutch 3 pointer in the corner to put the Tide up 36-34 with just 2:10 left to play.

Just as he had at other checkpoints the ballgame, Brendan Holbritter shined brightest at critical junctures as Ephrata’s outside threat stepped up once again with key call from downtown to put Ephrata back in front 37-36. Ephrata’s lead would later grow to 3 as Dilyn Becker made the most of his first two points of the night as the junior guard put the Mounts up 39-36 with time running out.

Even though Ephrata was now playing with the lead and time of the essence, Columbia continued to make Ephrata earn it as Meleik Crenshaw drove to the cup and finished to slice the Mounts’ lead down to just 1 at 39-38 with 21.3 left to go. Once the ball was inbounded, Columbia was forced to foul which sent Becker back to the line having to knock down the big time free throws to make it a 3 point game once again. Just as he had done moments earlier, Dilyn Becker delivered the goods for his Mounts teammates by converting the pair, yet still keeping it a one possession ballgame.

Columbia’s ensuing trip down the floor ultimately ended in Tide free throws which saw CHS go 1-2, however they were able to grab the offensive board with 9.6 left with the ball in the halfcourt and the chance to tie or take the lead coming out of the timeout.

What’s that old adage about big players stepping up in big time games? Well Ephrata’s Micah Krauter fit that description to a T on Friday as the senior ended up getting a steal on Columbia’s last possession and having the presence of mind to flip it out to teammate Xavain Rodriguez running ahead of the pack who layed it in just before the buzzer sounded giving Ephrata the thrilling 43-39 win in the opening round of the playoffs to earn a date with Lebanon to start the next round on Monday.

This Week’s Starting Five
Cameron Lovett (Penn Manor)
Jaden Neal (Columbia)
Micah Krauter (Ephrata)
Logan Monroe (Conestoga Valley)
Brendan Holbritter (Ephrata)