MT Tops Spartans, Bears in LL League Playoffs February 15, 2019
The Manheim Township boys' basketball team reached the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship game for the first time in 14 years with a 63-52 defeat of Elizabethtown on Thursday night. In the semifinal game held at Conestoga Valley, the Blue Streaks (16-7) won the first game of a doubleheader with Cedar Crest and Warwick squaring off in the nightcap.
Playing in the championship game has special meaning for the Blue Streaks head coach Matt Johns.
"It has been played at Manheim Township for the past 10 or 11 years," Johns said. "It's means a lot for our kids to get to the championship game."
The Streaks' win in the semis was the team's sixth straight L-L League victory, including a stretch that helped the team claim the Section One title by one game over Cedar Crest.
"It was great to see our kids respond when we were down a couple of weeks ago," said Johns. "We played it one game at a time."
Thanks to a big second quarter, the Streaks went into the locker room at halftime leading 36-27. The second half was much closer with E-town nearly matching Township point-for-point.
"We got ahead with a nice lead in the first quarter and stretched it out by halftime," Johns explained.
The Bears' comeback made it a closer game down the stretch, however.
"We were up by only one in the fourth quarter," Johns continued. "We knocked down some key baskets.
"We had a few three's against them," he added. "Will Greiner had three three-pointers and finished with 11 points. Zac Oldac and Tyler Crespo each had a big game."
Oldac finished with a game-high 20 points and Crespo poured in 18.
The championship game will have the Streaks facing Warwick. The Warriors defeated Cedar Crest 72-47 in the other semifinal game. Results of that game will appear in the February 27 edition.
On Tuesday, Township took advantage of several Garden Spot turnovers in a 70-34 victory that advanced the Streaks into the Lancaster-Lebanon League semifinals.
"We gave away the ball 13 times in the first quarter, and had 27 turnovers in the game," said Garden Spot head coach Nate Musselman. "Give Manheim Township credit, certainly, but you can't turn the ball over in a playoff game at that rate."
"It was definitely a key factor in the game," Johns said of the high turnovers by Township's opponents.
"We started the game by pressing," Johns explained. "We've done that a handful of times where we've had success and stuck with it."
The quarterfinal match was actually played on the Streaks' home court, having been rescheduled twice due to weather conditions until it was finally played on Wednesday.
Therefore, the Streaks as well as the opposition - the Section Two runner-up Elizabethtown Bears - didn't have any off days before the semis. E-town eked by Lampeter-Strasburg 47-44 on Wednesday.
The Streaks jumped out to a 23-11 lead and extended that to 39-16 by halftime. Township finished strong with a 17-8 run in the fourth quarter.
Brendan Mellott led all scorers. The Streaks' senior guard poured in 18 points, including a three-point basket. Zach Oldac added 14 points which also included a three-pointer. Tyler Crespo, who went 5-for-5 at the foul line, and Mickey Stokes each scored seven points.
"Tyler Crespo was distributing the ball well. He had a lot of assists," said Johns. "He was making the right reads and getting them the ball. It was a game where the guys were unselfish."
Andrew Zentner and Keontae Nunn each scored 10 for the Spartans.
Township's top finisher in the L-L League bowling championship was Rhiannon Kott. In the championships, which were held at Leisure Lanes on Wednesday, Kott finished eighth to earn a medal. The winner on the day was Cedar Crest's Paige Boyd, who defended her title.
Warwick Tops Blazers, Falcons in LL Playoffs February 15, 2019
Go big or go home. Warwick's boys' basketball team is certainly claiming that as their mantra in a season for the ages, or at least the past three decades. That is how long the Warrior's drought of not winning a single game of the L-L League tournament ran, but the dam burst Wednesday night when Joey McCracken's coast-to-coast layup barely fell through the net before the final buzzer sounded on Warwick's 64-62 quarterfinal victory over Lancaster Mennonite.
Playing on their home court, the Warriors trailed by seven after the first quarter before shaving one point of that deficit by halftime where they trailed 25-19. But whatever transpired in the locker room during the break brought out an inspired McCracken who was held scoreless in the first half but opened up for 17 points, including a perfect 6-6 from the foul line, in the second to lead the team.
With the score tied and Lancaster Mennonite controlling the final seconds of the game, the Blazer's Elijah Terry, with McCracken contesting, put up a three-point shot with only seven seconds remaining. Standing in the key, McCracken gathered the resulting rebound of Terry's failed attempt and with just under six seconds showing on the clock dribbled the length of the court to deliver the game winner.
Warwick followed a lackluster first half, in which the Warriors only scored eight points in the second quarter, with 22 in the third and 23 in the fourth. Brock Fassnacht tallied 16 followed by Colby Martin and Ryan Shirk who each scored nine, Trysten George with seven and Conor Adams, Caleb Schmitz, and Broden Price contributing two apiece.
With that win, the Warriors advanced to Thursday's semifinal matchup against Cedar Crest at Conestoga Valley. Playing the late game following Manheim Township's 63-52 victory over Elizabethtown, Warwick continued its winning ways with a definitive 72-47 win over the Falcons to earn a finals showdown with the Blue Streaks which was played on Saturday following press time.
The trio of Martin (16), Fassnacht (13) and McCracken (12) led the Warriors who jumped out to a 15-9 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. With a barrage of treys raining down on them, 11 to be exact, the Falcons couldn't find traction and wilted under Warwick's offensive attack as its top three scorers accounted for nine of those three-pointers alone.
A strong second half, in which they held a 39-21 advantage, helped cement the Warrior's dominant effort as did a solid showing by Warwick's bench in a total team effort. George, Adams, and Kai Cipalla all tallied seven points each, while Shirk and Schmitz each had five.
Looking to improve on her third-place finish in last year's L-L League bowling championships, Warwick's Ashley Sham worked her way up to take on defending champ Paige Boyd of Cedar Crest in the ladder formatted semifinals at Clearview Lanes last Wednesday. Despite her efforts, she came up just short of making the finals and again finished third when Boyd barely edged the Warrior 180-179 before defeating Northern Lebanon's Aliza Shirk 203-200 to maintain her crown.
Sham's 218 average heading into the tournament was a league best and she and teammate Isaac Erickson, whose 229 average was tops for the guys, will look to help Warwick claim a team title on the 19th of this month. Originally scheduled to precede the girl's and boy's championship, the team meet was postponed due to weather and Erickson will have already taken part in the boy's meet which took place on Friday the 15th, also after press time.