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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Week of Feb 19-25


Columbia Sees Big Lead Evaporate But Is Able To Hold Off Furious Camp Hill Comeback For 71-70 Victory

The Columbia job is certainly one of the most unique posts that there is in Lancaster Lebanon League basketball. Why? Well for starters, the checklist of some of the surrounding factors that go into the position sound like something out of a dream. Storied history? Check. Look up in the ceiling for the banner that reads State Champion. Passionate fanbase? Check. Watch as the whole town rallies around the team and travels to support the Tide at home and on the road. Homecourt advantage? Big time check mark there. The Hill is arguably the best environment in the LL.
However even for all of its seemingly positive marks, the head coaching duties of the Tide have exchanged hands over the last three years making it difficult for a solid foundation to be built considering there’s been a different foreman on the construction site offering their take on what needs to be done in order for the building to go up. Enter first year head coach Kerry Glover.

In the basketball sense, much like that of the construction of a building, the foundation is often the hardest part to see. Summer workouts, conditioning, early morning shooting. These are just some of the factors that go into building a strong base in which to build your program, often overlooked by the naked eye. From there, every victory and each hurdle overcome helps lay the groundwork as your program begins to ascend skyward. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest bricks that can be inserted is a playoff berth in your inaugural year. Put a big check mark to that box as well as the Tide were able to secure spots in both the LL and District 3 tournaments this season. Although the Tide fought valiantly before coming up just short against Ephrata in leagues, the Tide had a week off to get back to work and get ready for their opening round matchup against Camp Hill in the opening round of District play Monday night on The Hill.

Whether it was determination to make amends for last week’s Ephrata game, a team that just came out with laser-focus, or a combination of the two, Columbia started off red-hot as the Tide blitzed their guests from Camp Hill early and often. Elijah Swanigan started exceptionally well for the Tide as the junior guard paced Columbia early with 6, all from behind the arc, as the Tide built an 8-2 lead out of the gate. Columbia then continued their sensational start by rattling off the game’s next 5 points as a take to the hole by junior guard Meleik Crenshaw set the table for Tyler Harman as the senior found the stroke from deep as the Columbia lead ballooned to 13-2.

Although Columbia’s early success seemed to be centered on what they were able to do on the offensive end, the Tide was equally dominant on defense as well, especially altering shots in the paint. Never was that on display more than when Meleik Crenshaw rose up and swatted the Camp Hill shot out of bounds which appeared to be a perfect microcosm of Camp Hill’s initial start. Crenshaw was then able to turn defense into offense on the other end with a floater in the lane to put the Tide up by a dozen at 15-3. Camp Hill was finally able to put a band-aid on the wound as junior center Zack Kuntz, who is tabbed as a top 3 tight end prospect in the 2018 class according to most recruiting services, checked into the game and knocked down two freebies from the line to get the Lions within 10 at 15-5.

That would turn out to be all the closer Camp Hill would get to Columbia in Q1 as the Tide kept the pedal down and promptly ripped off a 7-0 run that culminated in an Elijah Swanigan triple to put Columbia up 22-5 with the sound inside the old gym on The Hill equal to that of a 747 taking off
When the dust finally settled on the opening quarter, a quarter that was colored by Crimson and Yellow, the scoreboard was not a misprint. Columbia really was leading 24-6.

When the second quarter began, Columbia showed no signs of stopping as yet another Elijah Swanigan 3 ball saw the Tide up their lead to the tune of 29-8. Camp Hill would respond with a pair of triples from Casey Caruso and Josh Goodyear, but Tide lead would swell to as many as 20 after two made free throws by Tyler Harman.
It seemed impossible to predict at the time, but Columbia would need every single one of those points down the stretch as Camp Hill quietly inched back into the ballgame. The Lion surge had already begun by the time junior guard Casey Caruso toed the line and converted a pair of free throws to get Camp Hill back to a baker’s dozen at 34-21. Caruso who was fantastic for his Camp Hill squad all night, later rattled off 5 straight Lion points to get the visitors with 11 at 37-26 inside of a minute left in the half. Zack Kuntz would end up putting the finishing touches on the late second quarter flurry as his stick-back made the score 37-28 Tide, but with the Lions being the ones with momentum after authoring a 14-3 barrage to close the first half.
Camp Hill would see their deficit be cut into single digits once the third quarter got underway when Casey Caruso nailed a triple to make it a 42-35 Columbia lead. On the night, the Lions’ junior guard would steal the show finishing as the game’s high scorer accounting for 28 Camp Hill points. As the third quarter moved along and ultimately wound down, Zack Kuntz was instrumental in helping his team finish the third frame strong. After a one-handed throwdown earlier in the quarter, the towering center later finished off a traditional three point play to set the stage for the final quarter with Columbia owning the 54-44 lead.

Camp Hill started the last quarter clearly on a mission as the Lions roared back into the thick of things with a 6-0 volley that culminated with a Darien Perez reverse finish to get Camp Hill within 4 at 59-55 with half a quarter to play. Camp Hill was then able to dwindle the Tide lead down to just 1 with 2:45 left after a Casey Caruso reverse lay in at the cup.

When Camp Hill brought the ball down the floor with a little under two minutes left to go, the Lions had the opportunity to tie down 64-61. Camp Hill decided to try their luck with a drive but Columbia’s Elijah Swanigan had different plans. The 5’10” junior played much bigger than his advertised size as he stood tall and took the momentum-shifting charge for his Crimson Tide team, giving the ball back to Columbia after a critical squandered opportunity by Camp Hill
After Elijah Swanigan and Jaden Neal added to the Columbia lead with each contributing a free throw, Camp Hill came back down the court having to chip into the 6 point deficit immediately with under a minute to go.

There are a few Cardinal Rules in the game of basketball and one without question, is to not foul a 3 point shooter. Well in this case, Columbia failed to abide as Casey Caruso who was fouled in the act, went 2-3 from the stripe to bring the Lions within 4 at 67-63. After Meleik Crenshaw put the Tide up by 4 following a free throw, Caruso came right back and answered with 2 more from the line to make it a one possession game with Columbia now clinging to the 68-65 lead with just 25 ticks left.

After Columbia completed the initial inbounds pass, they called timeout and were forced to remain stationary while inbounding the ball along the sideline when action resumed. When play did resume, it was Camp Hill with the ball in their hands after the Lions forced Columbia into a 5 second call.

The game giveth and the game taketh away. After Camp Hill was able to complete their inbounds play, the Lions stepped on the sideline almost immediately, giving the ball back to the Crimson Tide with time ticking away.Columbia was ultimately able to put the game away at the foul line as the Tide went 3-4 in the waning moments, needing every one of them as Camp Hill’s Darien Perez was able to hit a 3 ball right as time expired, but it was too little too late as Columbia was able to advance to the second round by securing the dramatic 71-70 victory.

Without question, The Hill was in all its glory Monday night. The Tide fans were loud and raucous from the outset. An atmosphere filled with passion and intensity that Columbia head coach Kerry Glover hopes to continue seeing during his Tide tenure. “This is what I’ve been waiting on all year,” coach Glover offered postgame before he paused and added, “It was a blessing. It definitely helped us out.”

To some, Columbia’s appearance in the postseason may seem like a surprise. Following what appeared to be meager preseason expectations set before them, Columbia took the challenge to heart and have responded with a hard-nosed, no nonsense approach to prove the doubters wrong. In some ways, an effort symbolic to the town of Columbia itself.

“I told my guys at the beginning of the year when we were told that we were a 5 win team that our motto was to make everybody respect us,” Glover added in the aftermath. “We want to leave each game earning everyone’s respect and I think we’ve done that.”

Central York Tames Cedar Crest To Advance In District 3 6A Playoffs

Alright LLHoops fans, time for a little pop quiz. Don’t worry, we have a feeling that you’ll enjoy this type a little more than the ones that your math teacher used to give out after you hastily scrambled to get the answers from last night’s assignment off a friend in homeroom. Not that I would be speaking from experience or anything of course. So let’s get out those Dixon #2’s or make sure there’s enough lead in the mechanical pencils before we begin. Heck, we’ll even let you use pen if you feel so inclined. Ok, here we go. Who has been the most successful LL basketball team over the last half decade? See, that wasn’t so bad was it?

If you haven’t figured out by now, there really is no one correct answer. Each response is totally subjective and is certainly up for sound debate, but one cannot argue that the Cedar Crest Falcons deserve to have a seat at the table when it comes to that discussion. Consider this, the Falcons have participated in the LL Tournament every year since 2013, before a rare absence this year. Once inside the bracket, Cedar Crest has typically found a successful formula as the Falcons have been able to march into the league finals every one of those seasons, including winning the title two straight seasons in 2014 and 2015.

Their success on the District stage takes a backseat to no one as well. Following a quick turnaround at the conclusion of the league playoffs, Cedar Crest has been able to replicate that same success as evidenced by qualifying for Districts every year since 2013, highlighted by two appearances in the then District AAAA Finals in 2014 and 2015.

While it’s clear that Cedar Crest has been a dominant force within the LL League, they likely see a mirror-image of themselves when they look across the river into York County and see the Central York Panthers.

During that same span, Central York has been no slouch come District play in their own right. The Panthers have earned a bid to Districts every year since 2014, including a trip to the finals last season. Even with both programs achieving success from afar, the Panthers and Falcons have locked horns recently in both the postseason and regular season. Cedar Crest was able to defeat Central York to advance to the 2014 District semifinals before a pair of regular season matchups that were nothing short of spectacular followed the next two years.

In the December 2014 contest, Evan Horn was able to hit a buzzer beating shot on the road to take down the Panthers, but Central York was able to return the favor last season at The Cage as the Panthers clipped the Falcons 75-69, despite a double-double output from Horn which included a 36 point outburst. The same night that he cracked the 1,000 point plateau.

With the calendar now having turned to 2017, Cedar Crest and Central York found themselves having to prepare for one another once again, however this time in somewhat foreign territory in an 8/9 matchup in the newly-christened 6A tournament.
With having last week off due to missing the LL playoffs, Cedar Crest came out like a team rejuvenated with a newfound focus as they pounced on their guests early. It didn’t take long for the onslaught to begin as Cedar Crest senior big man Louis Minaya collected the offensive rebound and finished with the stick-back just 10 seconds into the game, before he was able to do the same just minutes later to put the Falcons up 6-3 with 5:40 to play in the first.

The early separation that Cedar Crest was able to achieve would not have been possible without their work on the defensive end. The Falcon D seemed to cover Central York like a blanket in the early going with CY’s Evan Czulada being the only Panther to find an answer to the Cedar Crest riddle as he was the lone Panther to crack into the scoring column after the opening eight minutes.

While taking a no nonsense approach on the defensive end, Cedar Crest continued to add to their lead as the first quarter moved along. After 6’5” Cole Laney was able to splash a 3 for Cedar Crest, he then took his act inside the arc with a sweet spin move in the lane put the Falcons up 13-5 which is where things stood at the end of the opening quarter.

Central York was able to turn the tide in the second quarter and the Panthers wasted little time in doing so. After a Niko Sobestanovich drive to the rim got CY on the board at the outset of the quarter, Courtney Batts followed it up by raining in a 3 ball to get Central York within 5 at 15-10. In almost no time at all, the Panthers were able to cut the Cedar Crest lead to just 1 after a pair of Sobestanovich freebies made it 15-14 Falcons now inside the 6 minute mark.

Cole Laney was able to push the Cedar Crest lead back up to 4 with a 3 ball of his own, but Central York rallied back with a 5-0 run to take their first lead of the contest at 19-18 following a Courtney Batts triple. Even though Central York was playing with their first lead of the ballgame, the home-standing Falcons were able to reel the Panthers back in as sophomore Logan Horn hit from downtown to knot things up at 21 apiece with 3:15 to play in the first half.

From there, the Panthers answered back with another run, this one of the 6-0 variety, as junior Garrett Markey put his name into the scorer’s book with a triple to send the Panthers into the break leading 27-21.

Coming out of the intermission, Central York was able to continue distancing themselves from their hosts as back to back 3 balls by Landyn Ray and Garrett Markey put Central York up 33-24, forcing Cedar Crest to burn a timeout just 1:13 into the half.

The timeout appeared to be just what the doctor ordered as Louis Minaya was able to score underneath for Cedar Crest which helped ignite a Falcon charge. Following the Minaya bucket, Cole Laney was able to score inside before Tate Seyfert took a steal coast to coast for the Falcon deuce making it a one possession game with Central York leading 35-32. The Panther lead would later be sliced down to just 1 following a bucket by Cedar Crest junior guard Jaiden Melendez with 1:57 showing on the third quarter clock.

It appeared at that point that we were setting up for a fantastic finish, but two back-breaking 3s by Central York’s Garrett Markey put the Panthers up 5 at 41-36 just 40 seconds later helped swing things into the Panthers’ favor for good. Landyn Ray was then able to finish off the dominating last minute of Central York basketball with lay in just before the horn sounded with Central York in command leading 43-36.

Down by 7 staring at the possible end of their season, Cedar Crest needed to mount a charge. Unfortunately for the Falcon brigade, the final quarter seemed to serve as a coronation for Central York junior guard Landyn Ray who put on a show the last eight minutes.

The feature presentation got underway with Ray tallying the first 5 Panther points of the final quarter as the Central York lead had swelled to 50-37 with just 6:15 left to play. Ray showed no signs of slowing down as the quarter trudged along as his drive to the cup put CY up 54-39, before he hit from downtown to increase the Panther lead to 57-41 with 3:30 left to go.

With time winding down, Cedar Crest seniors Greg Munnion and Jabin Joseph checked into the contest and delivered meaningful minutes in their final game as Falcons. Munnion got in the mix defensively with a rejection in the latter stages of the game before Joseph knocked down a 3 ball for Cedar Crest to close it out, much to the delight of the student section.

When all was said and done, it was Central York who kept their season alive to earn a trip to Reading to take on District 3 behemoth Reading in the quarterfinals. Cedar Crest on the other hand saw their season come to a close. Despite coming up short on this night, the Falcons project to have a lot of returning talent including the likes of Blake Thomson, Dylan Miller, and Cole Laney. Laney showed that he will be a matchup nightmare for Section 1 opponents next season as he delivered a game-high 22 point night against Central York.

While this year might not have been reminiscent of recent Cedar Crest success, the pieces are certainly in place for another Falcon return to the top of the Section 1 standings in 2018. A place where Cedar Crest is more than comfortable living.

Hempfield Hangs On For 49-46 Victory To Advance To Hershey, 6A Semifinal L-L Duel With Lebanon

When teams get together in the preseason and go over their list of goals and aspirations for the year to come, you’re likely to hear many some of the answers. Make the league playoffs, get into Districts and advance, and hopefully have it all culminate with a state playoff berth. For those teams that are located right here in our own backyard of District 3, there is likely one more goal to add to that aforementioned list. Make it to Hershey and play in the Giant Center. Unlike previous years due to the PIAA classification reformat that went into effect this season, local teams had to now wait until the semifinals, or in some cases the finals, before stepping foot onto the esteemed palatial floor. On Friday night in Shillington, Hempfield and Governor Mifflin squared off in a matchup between two teams that were eager to get their shot playing on the big stage, literally, as they met in the District 3 6A quarterfinals.

Hempfield who came into the game fresh off a dramatic overtime victory against rival Manheim Township last time out looked like they were going to pick up right where they left off as Hempfield junior guard Ryan Moffatt canned a 3 ball 15 seconds into the contest to give the Black Knights the ultra-early 3-0 lead. Mifflin’s initial points were certainly dramatic as star guard Bubba Peters drove to hole to put the Mustangs on the board, while also scoring his 1,000 career point. Peters would stay on the attack later on in the quarter with another take to the rim which tied things up at 5-5 with 4:30 to go.

The Knights were able to continue their hot shooting from behind the arc this time with senior Bryan Karl stepping out and knocking it down to get the Hempfield lead back up to 3 at 8-5 later on in the first. Mifflin would later trim the Hempfield lead down to 1 following a floater in the lane by Ben Walmer, but Javon Mitchell was able to continue the 3 point bonanza with a trey of his own with 30 seconds to go, which gave Hempfield the 13-11 lead after one.

With Governor Mifflin plagued by cold shooting to start the second quarter, Hempfield started to add to their lead. The Knights came up with a 4-0 to start the second quarter, culminating with Bryan Karl finding Ryan Moffatt with a sweet dime in the lane to put Hempfield up by a half dozen at 17-11. Mifflin however would answer back with a 4-0 charge of their own as senior guard Dylan Patton drove along the baseline to get Mifflin back within 2 at 17-15 with 5 minutes to go in the half.
Hempfield was able to keep Mifflin at bay for the rest of the half as they leaned on their strong interior defense to either block, or significantly alter Mifflin shots around the rim. Playing with the lead, Hempfield began to build upon it once more as Bryan Karl splashed home a triple before Javon Mitchell continued the Black Knight salvo with a pullup jumper to increase the Hempfield margin to 24-16 under the 2 minute mark. The Hempfield first half advantage would grow to as many as 10 with David Martin-Robinson bullying his way to cup to make it 26-16 before the curtain fell on the first half with the Black Knights in front leading 28-18.

Hempfield was able to up their lead to 12 once inside the third quarter when Bryan Karl connected on two free throws to put his squad up 32-20 with 5 minutes left, but Bubba Peters helped get the lead back down to 11 a minute later with a 3 ball to now make the score 32-23. Hempfield continued to keep Mifflin at arm’s length for the remainder of the quarter as seemingly every Mustang trip down the floor resulted in a one and done which ultimately helped Hempfield get the lead back up to 12 following a Javon Mitchell slip to the rim which made the score 36-24 in Hempfield’s favor with under two minutes left in the third. Mifflin would be able to get just slightly closer during remaining two minutes as Hempfield carried the lead into the final quarter up 37-26.

With time running out on a possible trip to Hershey, Bubba Peters stepped up and started to take the game over. The newly-minted 1,000 point scorer stopped and fired from beyond the arc to help swing momentum back over to the Mifflin cause, with the Mustangs now trailing 41-35 with 4:16 to play as Hempfield took a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Governor Mifflin slapped the press on and began trapping on the first pass, making Hempfield earn all 94 feet. When they were able to maneuver pass the press, Tyler Hilton was there for some timely free throws as the senior guard went 2-2 to earn his first points of the night, which put the Black Knights up 43-35 with 4 minutes remaining.

Unfortunately for Hempfield, they still had to contend with Mr. Peters as the Mustang senior was able to finish off the traditional three point play which cut the Knight lead back down to 4 at 43-39 with 3:10 left to go. On the evening, Bubba Peters paced all scorers with a 24 point effort.

With Hempfield getting past another press attempt by Mifflin, Tyler Hilton was big time yet again as he knocked down another critical freebie from the stripe to increase Hempfield’s lead to 44-39 with now just 3:10 to go before Mifflin was able to put a huge dent into the lead at 44-42 after an Isiah Tisdale trifecta.

With game hanging in the balance, Ryan Moffatt was able to score a gigantic bucket for Hempfield as the Black Knight lead then grew to 6 after a Tyler Hilton hoop off the assist from David Martin-Robinson.

Try as they might, Hempfield was not out of the woods yet as Mifflin senior Rece Harman followed a missed Mustang shot, scoring the goal plus the contact to get GM back within a deuce at 48-46. After Ryan Moffatt was able to counter with an enormous free throw after he was sent to the line on the other end, Mifflin got the ball back, down 49-46 with just seconds to play.

The Mustangs would get three cracks at sending the game to overtime after grabbing two offensive rebounds off of missed shots, but Hempfield’s defense was stifling on Mifflin’s final attempt with 6.5 seconds left as the buzzer finally rang out signifying Hempfield’s return trip back to Chocolate Town after posting the 49-46, a game in which the Black Knights never trailed.

For a team that came into Districts slotted in the #7 position, seeing their name on the final four line may seem like a surprise to some, but Hempfield head coach Danny Walck knew that the ingredients were there for a successful season all along, it was just a matter of finding the right recipe. “I thought we had the makings of that and then we had the serious injury to Bryan (Karl) which changes rotations, dynamics, and it sort of knocked us back on our heels,” Walck admitted. “We had to regroup through that.” Regroup they did.

Even though everything may have appeared to be in place at least initially, a veteran coach like Walck knows that it takes more than just a good feeling in the preseason in order for a team to maximize its potential and hopefully be playing come postseason. It takes cohesion and having everyone be on the same page pulling in one direction. The same types of characteristics that he sees in this year’s group of Black Knights who are putting it together at the right time. “There’s a lot of teams that have different parts, but do they have the chemistry? Do you want to make your teammate better? If you can get buy in to that, then good things can happen. The last four weeks we’ve had pretty good buy in.”

With Hempfield’s win coupled with Lebanon’s triumph over CD East, also on Friday night, the Lancaster Lebanon League is assured of having a representative in the inaugural District 3 6A title game against either Reading or Harrisburg. Two of the very best names that District 3 has to offer.

This Week’s Starting Five
Elijah Swanigan (Columbia)
Cole Laney (Cedar Crest)
Tyler Harman (Columbia)
Tyler Hilton (Hempfield)
Ryan Moffatt (Hempfield)