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Yunginger Earns PIAA Swimming Gold March 19, 2018

Manheim Township senior Amy Yunginger won the 200-yard freestyle and finished fifth in the 100-yard butterfly as she and seven other swimmers represented the Blue Streaks in the PIAA Class-AAA Swimming & Diving Championships this past week at Bucknell University.

In the two days that the Township boys and girls competed at the Kinney Natatorium, the girls' team racked up 40 points and finished in a three-way tie with Downingtown West and Pennridge for 16th place. In fact, the Blue Streaks were the highest scoring girls' team among the Lancaster-Lebanon League schools.

The boys' team, which was represented by juniors Charlie Gingrich and Rob Perot, grabbed 17 points and finished in 35th place - just ahead of L-L League rival Conestoga Valley.

North Allegheny finished atop the team standings in the boys' championships with 301 points - more than 100 points ahead of second-place North Penn. And it was the North Penn girls' team that claimed first place with 258 points with Avon Grove (203) finishing second.

Yunginger claimed the 100 fly in exactly 54.0 seconds. She had pretty much owned that event that day as she had a winning time of 54.81 in the prelims earlier.

"Her win in the 100 butterfly enabled her to be an automatic qualifier for High School All-American," said head coach Dan Graybill. "In the past she has been in consideration and made it in, but never automatic. So, she is deserving of that.

"In the 200 freestyle, she had a better time in the prelims," Graybill added.

She swam the 200 freestyle at a time of 1:50.34 in the preliminaries on Wednesday, March 14. In the finals, she nearly matched that time with a finish at 1:50.47, earning fifth place.

Yunginger was one of three Blue Streak seniors participating. Freshmen Hope Boldizar and Olivia Pyott also made it to states as did junior Morgan Wylie-Thal.

Seniors Eva Salembier and Paige Newman joined Yunginger and Pyott in the 400 freestyle relay, capturing 14th place with a time of 3:35.04 in the preliminaries and a 3:34.65 in the finals.

"At the beginning of the season, I wouldn't have believed you if you had told me we would have a 400 free relay team that would break 3:40," Graybill remarked. "I put Amy first so she could build a nice lead for us, which she did.

"Paige Newman, in the relay, had one of her best lifetime splits," Graybill noted. "She kept us competitive and that had a huge impact on the relay, helping us drop our time."

Newman also had a time of 5:10.85 in the 500 freestyle prelims.

Though the 200 medley relay team did not place, the foursome that swam the event were: Wylie-Thal in the freestyle; Yunginger at backstroke; Pyott swam the breaststroke; and Newman took the butterfly.

Pyott also swam the 100 breaststroke and recorded a time of 1:07.31. Graybill commented on his two freshmen and their performance on the big stage.

"That's an accomplishment in itself," Graybill commented, referring to one qualifying for states. "Usually the jitters go away the second year - and that could be for any age. It's daunting. You usually do better the next year."

In the boys' events, Gingrich was eighth in the 100 butterfly preliminaries with a time of 50.41. He improved on that, however, in the finals with a sixth-place finish in 50.01 seconds.

"Charlie's time in the 100 fly put him in consideration for boys' All-American," Graybill noted. "I know next year he will set his goal to break 50 seconds. That's a big goal for a butterflier."

Perot finished 13th in the finals of the 500 freestyle on Thursday. He registered a time of 4:38.71 in the prelims and swam the finals at a 4:40.52 clip, earning four team points.

"Rob made the consolation finals," Graybill said. "This was his first year swimming with us. He had a 4:38.71, which was his best time.

"There are lots of good swimmers in that event," continued the coach. "The boys' 500 was loaded. He was close to breaking the school record and I dare say, as a senior he could break that."

The hard-working seniors, who helped continue Manheim Township's tradition for strong swimming programs, will be missed.

"They're just great kids with a will to succeed," Graybill explained.


Carter Hasson was the lone wrestler representing Manheim Township at the PIAA Class-AAA state championships, which were held at the Giant Center in Hershey on March 8-9.

The senior suffered a setback in his opening match in the 182-pound weight class as Alex Litz of Harry S. Truman School registered a pin late in the bout, claiming it at the 5:42 mark.

In the consolations, Hasson lost to Hollidaysburg junior Mason McCready. The 11-2 major decision ended Hasson's season with a 31-11 record.


Blue Raider Hoopsters, Matmen Compete in State March 19, 2018

The real fun begins now for the Middletown boys' basketball team. The Blue Raiders kicked off their PIAA redemption tour on Friday, March 9th with a 66-57 victory over District 4's champion, Montoursville. The PIAA-4A opening round affair took place at Shikellamy High School in Sunbury and marked Middletown's first step to surpassing last's year's PIAA quarterfinal loss to Quaker Valley.

The nine-point victory ended up being more difficult than many expected with head coach Chris Sattele citing his squad's nine day lay-off as the reason.

"I was proud of our kids because they really responded well and then we were able to get this match up and we felt we could play with District 4 teams," said Sattele.

The result of the layoff was a sloppy first half where Middletown managed just 28 total points. Despite the scoring trouble, the Blue Raiders still managed to take a two-point cushion into the break. The two sides traded buckets and miscues throughout the opening 16 minutes, combining for 15 turnovers, seven ties and eight lead changes. Neither team was able to gain more than a four-point edge but the Blue Raiders were able to enjoy that two-point halftime cushion thanks to the work of Ryan Hughes and Tre Leach. The pair tallied eight points over the final two minutes to help keep the Warriors at bay.

As the third quarter unfolded, Montoursville scored eight of the frame's first 10 points, swinging momentum and the score in their favor. Despite the opening surge by the Warriors, Middletown did not wilt, keeping the game close despite being outscored in the quarter. The 21-16 edge in the frame allowed Montoursville to take a slim 47-44 lead into the final eight minutes but the battle tested Blue Raiders responded by taking over the game in those eight minutes.

It actually only took Middletown about a minute to pull away but the Blue Raiders first had to fight though the first five plus minutes of the final stanza. During that time the Warriors did just enough to hang around making it a 54-53 game with 2:50 remaining. Tre Leach, who finished with 19 points, kicked off the decisive 9-0 run by making both ends of a one and one while Brady Fox scored his only point of the contest to cap the spurt and make it a 63-53 game with 75 seconds remaining. A couple of free throws from Chris Plummer (six points) and Hughes accounted for the final Middletown points.

"The intensity picked up in the second half. Both teams were fighting for their lives, its state playoffs," said Hughes, who scored 12 of his game high 33 points in the decisive fourth quarter. "We were preaching next play, next play in the locker room at half time and I think that is what motivated us never to put our heads down, just kept working."

Sattele echoed his star's thoughts about the halftime talk. "Their zone gave us some trouble but we found a way to make some adjustments at halftime and get Ryan the ball inside the post and I thought they did a nice job of that." Sattele was quick to credit one of his assistants (Coach Klinefelter) with spearheading the adjustments but added, "It was really a good combination of all our coaches kind of talking about it."

Up next for the now 18-7 Blue Raiders is a PIAA-4A second round affair opposite District 12's third place squad, Overbrook, at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Tuesday at 6 pm.


The boy's hoopsters were not the only Blue Raiders in PIAA action last week. Luke Fegley and Ryan Berstler took their talents to Hershey's Giant Center for the 2017-2018 PIAA Championship. The pair competed in the 2A field, going a combined 1-4 to find their weekend and season over earlier than they preferred.

Fegley was responsible for the lone victory, pinning Smethport's Bryent Johnson a mere 10 seconds before the final horn of their preliminary round match. Fegley would have picked up the win regardless, racking up a 10-3 edge before finally putting Johnson's shoulders to the mat. The Middletown sophomore found himself on the opposite side of things in his first-round match-up. Fegley was bounced from the championship bracket thanks to a 12-3 major decision loss to Troy's Sheldon Seymour. Fegley was unable to overcome a combination of a few early takedowns and escapes from Seymour with the Troy sophomore ending the match with back-to-back third period nearfalls.

Fegley saw his season come to a close with a 1-0 loss to Brandywine Height's Bailey Gimbor. The Bullet freshman scored the only point of the match on an escape with 55 seconds remaining in regulation. The loss put Fegley's season ending record at 34-12.

Berstler was unable to find a way into the winner's column, dropping both his matches to end his 2017-2018 season with a 35-11 mark. The junior opened his time in Hershey with a 13-2 major decision loss to Bryan Daubert of Forest Hills. The Ranger jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Berstler thanks to first period combination takedown and nearfall. Another takedown late in the second period countered Berstler's escape making it 7-1 with just two minutes remaining. Daubert continued his onslaught in the final frame, working an escape into another takedown-nearfall combo for his final six points. Berstler picked up one final point on another escape late in the period, setting the final at 13-2.

Berstler's season came to a close with a 4-2 loss to Hughesville's Luke Gorg. The Hughesville sophomore used a first period takedown to pick-up the bout's first points. Berstler was able to counter with his own takedown but the second period points only countered Gorg's two escapes in the frame. The pair battled through a scoreless third period to leave the final at 4-2.


Pioneer Hoop Teams Fall in PIAA Second Round March 19, 2018

Thirty-two teams qualify for the PIAA Class 5A basketball bracket but only one finishes its season with a win. Unfortunately, neither the Pioneer girls nor boys squads will be the final team standing as both bowed out with second round losses last week.

Both squads opened action as the underdogs but couldn't quite pull off the upset, though the boys managed an overtime period before bowing out Philadelphia power Archbishop Carroll 77-76 at Governor Mifflin last Tuesday night. They finish the year with the single season record 26 wins against 5 losses. And four of those losses were by three points or less.

"The kids just played hard," said second year head coach Ed Berryman. "They left everything on the floor. This was a different level of basketball and the kids played their hearts out."

L-S, the sixth place team out of District Three, sprinted to a 10-0 after just four minutes. But the Patriots, the No. 3 seed out of District 12, ended the quarter on a 10-3 run and closed the gap to 16-12.

Ryan Smith, who led all scorers with 32 points and hauled in 22 rebounds, scored the first eight points of the second quarter while the Patriots went 6-for-6 from the line and scored the last eight points of the frame, leaving the halftime score at 32-26.

AC took its first lead of the night, 41-39, with 3:05 left in the third quarter. They outscored the Pioneers 22-11 that frame and held a 48-43 lead with eight minutes remaining.

The Patriots took its biggest lead, 53-45, with 6:56 left on the clock but the Pioneers rallied. Jordan Sweger converted back-to-back old fashioned three point plays, Smith scored in the paint, and Seth Beers buried a triple to put L-S back in front, 56-53. Over the last 1:23, however, the Pioneers missed four free throws, including the front end of two one-and-ones, leaving the door open for the Patriots. Isaac Beers, who finished with 11 points, was fouled with 13.3 left to play. He hit the front end of the two shot foul to tie the game. Smith rebounded the miss but was mugged down low and eventually lost the ball. AC frantically got off a pair of last second shots but came up empty, forcing the extra period.

That extra period was as tight as the rest of the game. Two free throws by Seth Beers with 1:47 left gave L-S its last lead, 71-70. Two free throws by AJ Hoggard (19 points) gave the Patriots a four-point cushion with 6.7 seconds left, leaving Isaac Beers' three at the buzzer short in the comeback.

Patrick Holmes (7), Zach Kingsley (6) and Peyton Denlinger (4) also contributed to the final points total.

But a season is not defined by the final loss. The Pioneers won the Section Two crown and secured its first ever Lancaster-Lebanon League title. They finished as a District Three 5A quarterfinalist and broke the single season wins record (24) by two games. Individually, Ryan Smith not only went over the 1,000 career points mark but was voted as Section Two Player of the Year. He led the league in scoring with a 20.3 average and was the only L-L player to score 30 or more points multiple times (7) throughout the season. He will continue his education and basketball career at East Stroudsburg. Also in the individual accolades department, Isaac Beers was voted as a Section Two first team all-star and coach Berryman was named Section Two Coach of the Year.

"To win the L-L League championship was awesome," lauded Berryman. "That was definitely a highlight. This senior class (Smith, Beers, Sweger, Denlinger, Cam Neimeyer and Marc Wilson) showed great leadership. They will be missed."


The girls also faced a tall task, both literally and figuratively, in going up against Southern Lehigh, the District 11 champs at Hamburg High School last Wednesday night. The Spartans (27-2) advanced with a 76-20 mercy rule win over Palumbo in the PIAA opener. They led from start to finish in topping the Pioneers 45-29 in round two. That result was their 21st straight victory this season. They went on to hold off Harrisburg 42-36 and advanced to the PIAA final four for the first time ever.

"They were bigger and stronger," said head coach Tony Fink. "And Amanda Mobley is a D-1 player (Rider University). They are the real deal," he added. "We took it as far as we could. When you are undersized, bigger teams in the playoffs are generally skilled and make you pay."

The Spartans jumped out to a 7-2 lead before a triple by Laura Horner, whose team high 12 points was just under her average this season, a free throw by Emma Gochnauer (10 points) and a jumper by Sarah Gawne closed the gap to 8-7. Two possessions later, Gochnauer's putback knotted the game at 10-10. The Spartans, however, ran off seven straight and never looked back.

They led 17-10 at the end of the frame and opened the second with a steal and a layup. L-S fell behind by as many as ten, 25-15, before a 5-2 run, including four free throws by Horner, closed the half and cut the lead to 27-20.

"We gave up nine offensive rebounds in that second quarter," noted Fink. "But a lot of that was their size. We shot poorly, and missed some bunnies and free throws but their size bothered us."

But a third quarter run, similar to that first quarter, extended the Spartans' advantage. They held L-S to three points - a putback by Gawne (4 points) and a free throw by Hanna Garber (3 points), and pushed the lead to 38-23.

Despite a tightly contested fourth quarter, L-S, still diving on the floor for possession of the ball late in the game, failed to close the gap and capped the season with a 16 point loss.

Olivia Snyder led all scorers with 21 points.

"I love my team and will miss my seniors (Horner, Gawne, Garber) greatly," said Fink. "We finished at 25-5, were Section Two repeat champs, and won the Penn Manor and Hershey tournaments. Our losses were all to district and state playoff teams."

Their team success also featured some individual accolades. Gochnauer, a junior, passed the 1,000 career points plateau and was Lampeter's floor general. She averaged 15.8 ppg was named Section Two Player of the Year and a first team all-star. Garber and Horner were both Second Team all-stars while Brittney Zameroski was selected as an Honorable Mention all-star.

Coach Fink, in his sixth season, went over the 100 win mark, led his team to their second L-L League title at 14-0 and was selected as Section Two Coach of the Year.


2OT PIAA Loss Ends Hempfield's Standout Season March 19, 2018

The Hempfield boys' basketball team battled Section 12 champion Lincoln into a second overtime period in Wednesday's PIAA Class 6A playoff game at Pottstown High School. With the score tied 53-53, the Railsplitters held Hempfield to only two points in the second extra period for a 65-55 victory. In doing so, Lincoln not only advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, but made it to the semis by eventually nixing Neshaminy on Saturday.

The Black Knights, who wrapped up their season with a 24-5 record, were led in scoring by Andrew Alston's 20-point tally. The senior guard drained four three-point buckets.

"We played against a very skilled team and were able to go into double overtime," stated head coach Danny Walck.

The Knights were out-sized by the Railsplitters (23-6) but kept the game close through regulation time. Foul trouble for key Hempfield players eventually resulted in Lincoln gaining the edge in that second overtime frame.

"We got into some foul trouble," Walck explained. "Eli Washington fouled out in regulation. Ryan Moffatt fouled out in the first overtime and Donovan Green in the second overtime period. So we had three starters out. They capitalized on that."

Alston and Moffatt (18 points) were instrumental in scoring the key baskets. The team also avoided having Lincoln dictate the tempo of the game.

"They're a very athletic and very skilled team," Walck commented. "They are a team that likes to get up and down the floor. We couldn't allow that.

"You sometimes have to play defense with offense," continued the coach. "You can't quick-shoot the ball. If you do, you better make the shot because they want that transition game."

With timely rebounding and mixing the outside shooting with drives to the basket when possible, the Knights kept pace and at times led the Railsplitters. It was 20-18 Hempfield at the half. The Railsplitters took the lead by outscoring the Knights 16-11 in the third quarter. They were led in scoring by Khalif Meares and Sahnu Day, who finished with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

"Throughout regulation we rebounded the ball well against their height," said Walck. "We were able to get to the rim with some good possessions. We had seven or eight passes at times with good finishes."

What was remarkable about dominating the boards at times was the size of the opposition.

"They are a tall team," said Walck. "They have a 6-foot-3 guard and they have kids who are 6-5, 6-8 and 7-1. Our rebounding effort was outstanding."

David Martin-Robinson scored seven points for the Knights. Green matched that total, converting all three of his free throws.

The loss marked the end of a stellar season, which included earning the crown in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. The team loses Moffatt, Alson, Green, Martin-Robinson, Teagan Hazel and Drew Groft to graduation.

Walck praised the effort these seniors and underclassmen alike put forth in the 2017-18 campaign.

"It was an honor to be the coach for this group - especially the seniors," he said. "This group is made up of very good basketball players and individuals. Their body of work included 24 wins."


The Black Knights were represented by seniors Andrew Eyster and Sophie Lear in the PIAA Class-AAA state championships. The two swimmers competed in the 50-yard freestyle at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium in the two-day championships which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, March 14-15.

Eyster finished 27th in the 50 free preliminaries on Wednesday. He registered a time of 22.07.

Head coach Brittany Bertoli said that Eyster's great effort in the District Three Class-AAA championships pushed him forward.

"He was tied for 16th and was the 16th at-large person to make into the state meet," she pointed out. "He did very well in districts. His time [21.79] was one of his best ever - lifetime best."

Prior to competing, Eyster and his coach reviewed the competition, Bertoli said.

"At practice, we went through the other districts to see where he might finish," she explained. "We went district by district."

Lear also competed in the 100 freestyle. In that event, she finished 19th with a preliminaries time of 52.60, which was nearly identical to her districts time of 52.62.

"She was seeded 22nd, so she was able to move up," Bertoli noted. "It is still an accomplishment.

"She was in states last year as well," she added. "She came in to this year's meet pretty confident and ready to race.

"In the 50 free she placed 13th and made it back to the finals," continued the coach. "She placed 10th, so she moved up several places.

Lear's prelim time of 23.99 saw a slight improvement in the finals as she posted a time of 23.90. It earned Hempfield seven team points.

"I think in the 50 free, especially, anything can happen with a couple of tenths difference," Bertoli said. "It can move you many places. We have a lot of talent in Pennsylvania and it keeps getting better every year. The whole meet was challenging and very fast."

Bertoli was asked if she anticipated a higher presence by the Knights at states.

"We definitely would have liked some more," she replied. "I felt everyone put forth their best at districts."

As for the team losing both swimmers to graduation, Bertoli commented on the positive impact they each brought to the program.

"Andrew was definitely a leader on the team this year," she commented. "He took some of the underclassmen under his wing, directing them to where they needed to be. He led the team with his hard work and perseverance. He'll be missed. We wish him luck at Penn State.

"Sophie has a positive attitude and is always happy to swim," added the coach. "That kind of spread throughout the team and helped carry the team through. She was a big leader in helping the underclassmen and getting them prepared."


Michael Finishes 14th in PA State Bowling March 19, 2018

Tanner Michael finished 14th out of 24 bowlers in the PA State boys' bowling championship Friday at Princess Lanes in Pittsburg, scoring 1170 for his six games in the tourney.

The champion was Lewisburg's Anthony Neuer with a six game 1455 total.

Michael was a little nervous for his first game in the state bowling championship, but his main issue was trying to learn what the lane was giving him, he said.

The Manheim Central senior shot a 156 in that first game, well below his 209 season average.

"After the first game I was like, 'Alright, I've got to pick it up,' " Michael said.

He did in the second game, shooting a 191. He switched balls for the third game and something clicked, as he collected a 279, the second highest score for a single game of the day.

He adjusted and got in a groove, posting 180 in the fourth game, 181 in the fifth and 183 in the sixth, but it was not enough to overcome his opening game score.

"As we changed lanes, I was slow to adjust and didn't score the way I wanted," he said. "I usually throw my normal shot that I use on my house floor (at Cain's Lanes). When nothing happened, I knew I had to throw a straighter ball, one with less of my normal hook."

Michael said bowlers found out the lane pattern five minutes before the tournament started. The oil pattern used is called a sports shot. He said he competed in a few tournaments with the pattern, but never on the scholastic level.

With district, regional and state tournaments, officials do not want bowlers to have an advantage by knowing the patterns prior to the event. Bowlers switch lanes for each game.

Michael said he made adjustments by lining up his shots with the arrows on the floor, but the oil gets pushed around differently on each lane and moves the ball differently. A bowler must make adjustments for ball movement.

"I thought it went well for the conditions they had," Manheim Central coach Chuck Ruhl said. "He adjusted well to bowling on different lanes."

Putting things into perspective, Ruhl said Michael finished 14th out of hundreds of bowlers who competed this season, noting that Michael placed sixth in districts and eighth in regionals. Only the top 12 in the east region and top 12 in the west region make the state tournament.

Michael said he was satisfied with his performance in states and learned a valuable lesson.

"I needed to be more confident with how I throw my shot," said Michael, 17, who has bowled since he was six years old. "A couple of times I thought, 'I think this is what I should do' I needed to be confident in what I was doing. It is important to stay calm and stay confident."

He said he plans to major in computer science next year, though he is undecided where he will attend college. He would like to continue bowling, even if it is on a club team in college.

"This was a real good way for him to end the season," said Ruhl, who previously coached Aerika High in the girls' state tournament. "I think we had a really good season as a team and as individuals. Tanner was named one of the MVPs for the season in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and was an all-star in Section Three."

Ruhl, who has coached the Barons since the program began 14 years ago, said this season was a milestone for wins with a 14-5 overall record and 11-2 in league-play.

"I think we had a great year," Michael said. "The most important thing is to not get angry. You can get frustrated when you bowl, but you have to stick together as a team and not do your own thing. This is something that can be learned."


Blue Raiders Cap Season in PIAA Second Round March 18, 2018

The Blue Raider boys' basketball team saw their magical two season run come to a close last Friday, March 16th. The culprit, a 79-60 loss to the defending 4A champ, Imhotep Charter. The quarterfinal defeat ends Middletown's current postseason run in the same round where last year's 22-6 squad saw their season come to a close. The difference this year being the location, Reading's Geigle Complex versus last year's Altoona's High School Fieldhouse and the opponent, Quaker Valley versus the Panthers of Imhotep.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions," said head coach Chris Sattele of the loss that ended his squad's campaign with a 19-8 mark. "It was a lot to handle, it was tough, end of the season, and these guys are going on their ways and won't be a part of this anymore."

For the Blue Raiders the battle was lost in the opening frame where Imhotep charged out to a 22-7 lead leaving Middletown searching for answers. "The first four or five minutes, I think, was one of those things. We're playing at the Geigle, we're playing against a nationally ranked team, we're playing against division one players' and then they settled in and realized this is basketball," was Sattele's explanation of his team's 8-0 deficit after just three minutes. While the Panthers continued to expand their lead Tre Leach made sure Middletown erased the zero on their side of the scoreboard.

The senior guard proceeded to score all seven of Middletown's first quarter points, on his way to 16 for the game, starting with a pull-up jumper with just under four minutes remaining in the half. Unfortunately, while Leach was doing what he could, including a three-ball that pushed him over the 900-career point mark, Imhotep was still doing their thing which led to that 22-7 deficit.

As Sattele mentioned, his charges settled down after the opening frame. The result was a 16-11 advantage in the second stanza that shrank the Panther lead to 10, 33-23, when Tyler Petroski nailed a corner three just before the halftime buzzer. Ryan Hughes and Kyle Truesdale led the second quarter charge with the pair each scoring their first five points of the contest.

Middletown came out of the break intent to continue their march toward Imhotep. Truesdale stepped up to lead that charge scoring back-to-back buckets within the first 60 seconds of the third. The quick points trimmed the Blue Raider deficit to six but the Panthers came right back with a 7-0 run of their own to stretch the lead back to 13, at 40-27.

The Blue Raiders continued to claw behind the long-distance shooting of Tymir Jackson. The freshman sandwiched his two made three-pointers around a pair of Imhotep free throws and a long-range bomb from Petroski to shrink the margin down to five points with just under three minutes remaining in the frame. Imhotep would not allow the Blue Raiders to get any closer despite the best efforts of Hughes. Hughes, who scored four of Middletown's final five points of the quarter, only managed to keep the deficit in single digits heading into the final frame.

The senior guard continued his attempt to carry his squad into the lead, scoring the final 10 of his team high 19 in the fourth but it was not enough as Imhotep was able to salt the game away from the free throw line. The Panthers connected on 13 of their 17 fourth quarter freebies and 31 of 40 for the game, enabling them to slowly stretch the advantage to the 19-point final.

"I'm super proud of our kids," said Sattele. "I mean that is a nationally ranked team, they are very well coached and those kids played their tails off, it was sort of like playing a college team."

Middletown earned their quarterfinal spot opposite Imhotep with a 47-45 victory over Overbrook a few days prior.

The two clubs squared off in New Holland at Garden Spot High School and Middletown needed another dose of Hughes heroics to seal the victory. Hughes, who last year sent Middletown into the District 3-4A title game via a last second catch and release buzzer beater off a full court heave assist on the same court, came through in the final seconds again to give his Blue Raiders the win.

Hughes heroics were needed because the Blue Raiders found themselves in a deadlocked affair as the final seconds ticked away. That is when Hughes picked off a cross-court pass, took off for the hoop and converted a layup while getting fouled, providing the game winning points with six seconds remaining. Hughes did miss the and-1 free throw but redeemed himself by snagging the offensive rebound then finding Leach before falling out of bounds. Leach was promptly fouled by Overbrook sending him to the line with a chance to ice the game. The senior saw both attempts roll out but the additional time taken off the clock left Overbrook with only a last second full-court desperation heave that was off the mark.

"Hustle plays always help us out, its what we do, it's what we are based off of," said Hughes of his game winning steal and layup with Sattele adding, "Par for the course when you're here at Garden Spot, seems like Ryan is always here in the stretch."

Of course, those last second Hughes heroics took place because Overbrook mounted a fourth quarter comeback that erased what had been a 10-point Middletown lead. The Blue Raiders enjoyed that double digit cushion for nearly a minute early in the fourth before the Panthers began chipping away. Leach gave Middletown their second 10-point lead of the game with a bucket just 30-seconds into the frame.

Overbrook's Khalif Washington spent the next few minutes leading the charge to erase that gap. He started with a personal 6-1 run over a two-plus minute stretch that trimmed Middletown's lead from 37-27 to 38-33. A single Hughes free throw put a temporary hold on Washington's march and made it 39-33 with 4:38 remaining. A Raquon West (13 points) free throw proved to be the only Panther point not scored by Washington during an 11-2 Overbrook run that made it a one-point affair with 3:32 left on the clock.

After two Chris Plummer (10 points) free throws made it 41-38, West answered with an old fashioned three-point play to tie the game for the first time since the second quarter. The two sides exchanged free throws over the next two minutes with Petroski's single make knotting the score at 45-45 with 45.08 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Hughes' heroics.

"Credit to our kids. We had a double-digit lead going in there and they could have crumbled, they didn't," said Sattele. "They overcame that adversity and that embodies what Middletown is, the grit we have with our student athletes, they are unbelievable."

A similar pattern played out over the opening half with Middletown jumping out to an 8-0 lead just three minutes into the game. As a preview for the fourth quarter theatrics, the Panthers mounted a comeback march over the next three minutes that put the two sides in the first of four deadlocks, this one at 10-10.

As they did at the end of the game, the Blue Raiders were able to reestablish enough control to maintain a slim lead, this one leading to a 24-21 lead at the break. Middletown was able to stretch that slim three-point cushion to eight as the third quarter unfolded thanks to Leach who scored six of his 14 points in the frame.

Hughes finished the win with a game high 16 points while Petroski (three points), Truesdale (two points) and David Alcock (two points) provided the final Blue Raider points.

"One thing we always talk about is 'next play, next play, next play', we can't worry about the past and our kids' kind of did that tonight," Sattele summarized.


Warriors Well Represented in PIAA Swimming March 18, 2018

High school swimmers from across the state gathered last week at Bucknell University to test themselves and find out who is the best in the pool during the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Three individual swimmers from Warwick were included in that group as well as two girls' relay teams.

Held over a period of four days with Class 3A schools competing Wednesday and Thursday and 2A schools on Friday and Saturday, each event took the best 16 swimmers out of a preliminary heat and broke them down into A and B groups with the top 8 making the championship finals and the next 8 the consolation finals.

Making an impressive mark on the field was Joe Moll who medaled in two events, breaking two Warwick school records along the way, both of which were held by Moll himself. He swam to a fifth-place finish in the 200 IM on Wednesday and finished fourth in the 100 backstroke the following night.

Knocking a full two seconds off his school record in the individual medley, Moll medaled with a time of 1:50.13, in turn shaving 2.10 off his preliminary heat, before returning a day later and swimming the backstroke in 50.08 to set the bar 0.37 above his Warwick record of 50.45 which he also swam at Bucknell in last year's PIAA Championship.

Tyler Mandrell also represented Warwick well by finishing 16th overall in the girl's 50 freestyle with a time of 24.26 on Wednesday and then placing 13th in the 100 backstroke on Thursday when she touched in 57.81 while taking 0.25 off her preliminary qualifier.

More impressive, however, was the feat accomplished by the 400 freestyle relay team of which Mandrell swam second leg.

With Catherine Chen leading and Lauryn Ober and Sophie Gutheridge finishing, the girls placed 11th in a time of 3:32.12 and broke their own school record for the third time this season. In fact, it was the third time in the last two weeks, and second of the day on Thursday.

Swimming in Districts two weeks prior at Cumberland Valley High School, the ladies set the new mark at 3:33.74 while finishing fourth. Then, during their PIAA preliminary heat, they finished 11th with a new record of 3:33.45 before besting it yet again in the consolation finals.

Mandrell, Ober, and Gutheridge were joined by Hannah Greenway on anchor during Wednesday's 200 medley relay in which they finished in 12th place with at time of 1:47.99, and Chen posted a time of 52.77 in the 100 freestyle preliminaries barely missing the cut by 0.63 behind North Penn's Caroline who claimed the 16th spot with a time of 52.14.


Solanco Claims Five Basketball All-Stars March 18, 2018

Solanco's venture into the PIAA playoffs and their 17-11 overall record did not go without some individual accolades as well. Jess Cabrera, with a 13.1 scoring average, was named as a Section Two First Team all-star while Grace Kreider (11.2 ppg average), who led the team in both steals (103) and assists (82) received Second Team recognition. Team rebound leader (238) Aleksa Burger (10.3 ppg) and sophomore Jenna Dombach (8.6 ppg) were Section Two honorable mention all-stars.

"All four of these young ladies had spectacular seasons and are all deserving of their all-star selections," said head coach Chad McDowell. "However, if you ask any one of them, they would tell you that they could not have been as successful as they were without their teammates. The support and togetherness this team had all season long was a huge factor in our success," he added. "No one player cared who got the credit, as long as we got the outcome we desired each night."

The Mares, who went 9-5 in Section Two and finished second behind Lampeter-Strasburg's 14-0 mark, averaged 52.2 points per game and gave up 47.2. Four of those losses were by six points or less.

"Every game in Section Two was a fight and to finish second was a testament to this team's determination and heart," said McDowell.

Solanco secured that second place spot on the last night of league play with a win over Garden Spot. "Winning so many "must win games" down the stretch gave us confidence heading into playoffs," noted McDowell.

Those playoff games, five in all, started with a home win over West York in the district opener.

"Playing on our home court was electric," said McDowell. "The fans were our sixth man. Last year we missed districts by percentage points so to get a home game this year was awesome. Getting to play multiple district games was a great opportunity for our program to gain valuable experience against quality teams.

"And to qualify for the PIAA tournament provided our young team an opportunity to play at the next level for the first time," he continued. "It was a learning experience and a gauge of how far our program has come and how far we still need to go.

"Overall, it was an outstanding season. This team demonstrated growth as the season progressed," the coach added. "They played as one on the court. They worked together and never quit on themselves, their teammates or their coaches. They played with tremendous heart, passion and dedication every night. I am beyond proud of this team and their commitment in "changing the culture" of the program."


In other all-star action, senior Aaron Constein, named as a Section Two second team all-star, was the boys' only representative. Constein led team with a 12 ppg average and 34 made three pointers. He tallied a season-high 32 points in Solanco's win over Gettysburg where he was named to the all-tournament team. The senior finished with 485 career points and 55 made threes. He will attend St. Joseph's University in the fall.


Grayson Charles (138), AJ Wilson (160) and Ben Root, via a fall at 170, all contributed wins as the Lancaster-Lebanon League all-stars defeated the Berks All-Stars 34-18 last Tuesday night at Tulpehocken High School.


Spartans Compete in State Playoffs March 16, 2018

The Garden Spot boys' basketball team entered the PIAA Class 5A state playoffs having claimed eighth place in District Three. The Spartans traveled to Scranton to face Abington Heights in the first round of states.

The District Two champion Comets, who had only lost three games through and including their district playoffs, overcame an early Garden Spot spurt and went on to post a 75-47 win.

Garden Spot, which ends its season at 15-14, took a 19-18 lead into the second quarter. The Comets soared ahead in the second stanza, however, grabbing a 34-27 lead by halftime.

Led by the game-high scoring of Jackson Danzig, whose 18-point total included a pair of three-point field goals, the Comets went on a 19-5 run in the third quarter and held off a Garden Spot comeback attempt in the final period.

Keontae Nunn led Garden Spot with 15 points. The junior made four baskets and went 7-for-8 at the foul line.

Senior Jordan Shewbridge was one of a handful of Spartans playing their final basketball game in a Garden Spot uniform. He finished with 11 points, connecting from three-point range three times. Matthew Sharp scored eight while 6-foot-4 sophomore Andrew Zentner added seven points.


Garden Spot senior Connor Finkey competed in the PIAA Class-AAA state championships, which were held at The Giant Center in Hershey on March 8 and 9. Finkey moved through the opening round of the 145-pound weight class and, following a second- round setback, claimed a consolation victory before bowing out of the tournament.

On Thursday, March 8, Finkey began with a first-period pin, putting down Michael Kistler of Northampton just 1:03 into the bout.

Finkey suffered an 8-1 loss to Kiski Area's Cam Connor in the second round, sending him into the consolation matches the following day.

Finkey came out with a 7-2 victory, defeating Garrett Rigg of Bald Eagle Area. The following match was an 8-2 loss at the hands of eventual fifth-place finisher Jobe Chishko of Penn Tellford.

The Spartan senior finished the season with an overall record of 31-3.


Gabe Miller Finishes Sixth in State Wrestling March 16, 2018

Pequea Valley featured five wrestlers at the PIAA Class-AA Southeast Region Championships, which were held at Wilson High School on March 2-3. Of the five wrestlers, junior Gabe Miller and senior Tanner Ball moved on to the state championships the following week at the Giant Center with Miller finishing in sixth place.

In the Southeast Region championships at Wilson, Ball finished strong in the 132-pound weight class with consolation bracket victories over Jack Coulston of Boiling Springs and Zach Rupp of Upper Dauphin.

Earlier in the tournament, Ball beat Pierce Demetriates - a sophomore out of Tamaqua - by a 4-0 score. Following a gritty battle and 7-4 victory over Sebastian Corrales of Church Farm School, Ball suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Ryan McGuire of Notre Dame Green Pond - the top seed out of District XI.

Ball battled back through the consolations with the 5-1 defeat of Coulston and a 12-4 major in the third-place match with Rupp.

Connor Walsh suffered a one-point loss to Zavery Lester of Wilson Area in the opening round of the 138-pound bracket. The PV senior pinned T.J. Alderfer of Faith Christian Academy 2:56 into the first consolation match and pinned Lucas Shoop just 2:41 into the second-round consi battle.

However, a loss to Colin Rex of Northwestern Lehigh ended the quest for Walsh. Rex would go on to claim fifth place.

Miller's finish in the Southeast Region was in fourth place at 145 pounds. He opened with a powerful 18-3 technical fall, defeating Lehightown's Chris Whiteman. He downed a tough opponent in Bermudian Springs sophomore Trenton Harder, winning 11-4.

Though he suffered a loss to eventual champ Nathan Haubert of Palisades, he pinned Newport's Mike Capozzoli in only 55 seconds before losing the third-place match in a shootout. Lucas Christman of Palmerton won 16-12.

The 220 and 285 pound weight classes had Joey Coblentz and Nate Miller, respectively, battling for Pequea. Coblentz pinned Quinn Moyer of Northwest Lehigh but suffered a tough 10-7 loss to Bishop McDevitt's Nessir Pettus.

The consolation victory over Micah Springer of Camp Hill came in overtime by a 6-4 score. However, Wilson Area's Kolby Plank - the third-place finisher - eked out a 3-2 victory.

Nate Miller also opened with a win, registering a pin in 3:42 against Eddie Goldsmith of Springfield Township. Though he was pinned by eventual champ Dan Scheib of Tri-Valley, he did post a 5-4 consolation win before bowing out.

Ball would earn his 120th career victory before being ousted in the state championships in Hershey. Though he started in the hole with a 7-0 loss to Rocco Bartolo of Reynolds, he pinned Northwestern's Caiden Mooney in only 57 seconds and blanked Coulston - the same Coulston he had defeated in the Southeast Region consolation semis - by a 5-0 score. That was victory 120.

However, a tough 4-2 loss to Mark-Samuel Sallot of Harbor Creek - the eventual fourth-place wrestler - ended Ball's season.

Gabe Miller's season would end on a heartbreaking 8-6 overtime loss in the fifth-place match of states. He extended his wrestling competition into a third day after going 4-2 over the first two days.

Miller gained an 8-0 major over St. Joseph Academy's Evan Courts and blanked Montoursville freshman Dylan Bennett 7-0 on March 8. The following day had the first of three close losses for Miller. Tyler Griffiths of Southmoreland edged the PV junior 6-5. The pin versus D.J. Erickson of Hanover Area righted his path in the consolations and he strengthened his hold with a pin against Mike Doerfinger of Slippery Rock only 10 seconds into the second period.

Caleb Hetrick of Brookville shaded Miller 1-0 in the consolation quarterfinals and the 8-6 overtime loss to Hunter Michaels of Reynolds resulted in the sixth-place finish.


Lady Pioneers Rally Past Dover in District Opener March 14, 2018

After a disappointing shooting night that led to a nine-point loss to Lebanon Catholic in the L-L League playoffs, the Pioneers were looking to get that shooting form back as they hosted Dover in the opening round of the District Three Class 5A tournament last Tuesday.

Hitting just one of its first seven three-point attempts, things were not shaking out as L-S had planned. They fell behind 17-13 before a Hanna Garber layup cut the lead to two. Then, three straight triples by Laura Horner, including a buzzer beater, capped the first half scoring and put the home team in front, 24-18. It was the spark the Pioneers needed as they went on to win 62-50.

"We had the same shots we had against Lebanon Catholic only we knocked them down after a slow start," said Pioneer boss Tony Fink.

The Pioneers, who improved to 22-3, took control with a 21-15 third quarter effort as both teams knocked down 17 fourth quarter points with L-S doing the bulk of the damage from the free throw line. The hosts, who canned 18-of-22 free throws for the game, converted on 15 straight attempts, offsetting Rajah Fink's 13 point fourth quarter.

"Fink (30 points) is a heck of a scorer but we did enough defensively and we won the rebound battle with team effort," said Fink.

Horner finished with 23 points, including five three balls and a 4-for-4 effort from the foul line. Emma Gochnauer was 7-for-8 from the stripe, added a pair of treys and finished with 21 points. Garber put up eight points and was 4-for-6 from the line while Brittney Zameroski (4), Sarah Gawne (4) and Nora Holmes (2) rounded out the scoring.

Due to early deadlines, the results for Lampeter's quarterfinal matchup against defending 5A champ Susquehannock will appear in the March 7 issue.


Fresh off their first ever L-L League Championship, the boys' squad had two days to refocus for the District Three-5A tournament. L-S took care of business last Monday, dispatching No. 16 Northern York 55-35 in the opening round.

Tied at 4-4 early, the top seed used a 14-4 run to take control for good. Ryan Smith, who knocked down seven points in the fourth quarter, and Isaac Beers combined for 10 of Lampeter's 16 first quarter points.

The Section Two champs held the visitors to five second quarter points while building a comfortable 27-13 lead at the break. Zach Kingsley came off the bench with four points that frame and finished with seven for the game.

Northern came out of the half with determination, scoring nine straight over the first 3:25 to cut the lead to 27-22 but that was as close as they would get. Beers, who finished with 17 points and three triples, hit from downtown with 15.2 left in the quarter to extend the lead to 38-26.

The Pioneers finished strong, outscoring Northern 17-9 in the final frame to advance to the quarterfinals opposite No. 8 Lower Dauphin Thursday night. Unfortunately, it was there that Lampeter's hopes of obtaining another title went by the wayside as LD upended the hometown favorite 46-49 in overtime.

The Pioneers appeared to have caught the same bug that bit the girls' team in the L-L playoffs - a poor shooting night. Patrick Holmes had the hot hand, draining four three-pointers and scoring all 13 of Lampeter's second quarter points, but it wasn't enough. The Pioneers connected on just 6-of-24 three point attempts for the game.

Both teams seemed more focused on the defensive end in the first half and neither shot particularly well. The visitors held a slim 9-7 edge in the first quarter before Holmes, who scored all 17 of his points in the first half, fueled a 13-7 second quarter that put L-S in front, 20-16 at the break.

Smith, who was double and triple teamed all night, got going a bit in the third quarter, scoring seven, but L-S struggled to solve LD's zone defense. The visitors, on the other hand, netted the first four points of the second half and neither team led by more than two points the rest of the quarter. The Pioneers, with a chance to take the lead on their last possession, came up empty on three consecutive three point attempts.

LD scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter, a trey with 4:55 left, for a 34-31 advantage. Chase Broderick, fresh off the bench, drilled a three with 2:16 left to knot the score at 36-36 and Jordan Sweger's back-door bucket again tied the game at 38-all with 44 seconds left.

The visitors, looking for the last shot, instead turned the ball over, giving L-S new life and four more minutes to pull out a victory.

That extra period, however, went to Lower Dauphin (19-5) who connected on 9-of-14 free throws and outscored the Pioneers 11-8 to advance to the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, L-S (24-3) did secure a berth in the PIAA Class 5A tournament. They now compete in the consolation bracket for the fifth through eighth seeds for the state tournament.


Black Knights Top Coatesville in PIAA Opener March 12, 2018

In the opening round of the PIAA Class 6A boys' basketball playoffs, the Hempfield Black Knights fought back from an early deficit and managed to solve an aggressive Coatesville defense on Saturday night at Warwick High School.

Hempfield's 66-53 victory improved the team's record to 24-4 while Coatesville - the fifth-place team out of District One, ended its season at 21-6.

The Red Raiders double-teamed the Black Knights' top scorer Ryan Moffatt on multiple occasions, yet the Hempfield senior scored a game-high 29 - most of which came from the free throw line.

"We knew that they were going to bring that pressure," said head coach Danny Walck. "It's hard to simulate in practice. It's different when you're out there and it's coming at you."

"They were playing physical and the refs were calling it pretty tight," Moffatt said after the game. "So, I did whatever I could to knock 'em down."

Knock 'em down he did, converting 21-of-24 free throw attempts. In fact seven of the nine points he scored in the first half alone came from the charity stripe.

"Earlier this season I was actually struggling from the line so I changed my routine a little bit," Moffatt added. "Yesterday, I did take a few more [foul shots] at practice. This time of the year, you have to make your foul shots."

The Knights faced a 13-11 deficit after one quarter. Their defense adjusted and helped hold the Raiders to only seven points in the second quarter.

"They're too good off the bounce. We had to go to zone," Walck said. "You have to keep them out of rhythm. If you don't, you allow them to run their stuff."

The Knights, who were playing without injured senior forward Teagan Hazel, outscored Coatesville 21-7 in the second quarter, punctuating that period with Anthony Alston's three-point jumper from the corner of the court with two seconds to go. It gave Hempfield a 32-20 halftime lead.

"The three-point shot is a great momentum swing," Walck remarked. "It can go the other way on you too when somebody makes the shot against you. It was a huge shot.

"Anthony got tremendous confidence out of it," continued the coach. "He had to play a different role tonight."

The "different role" not only referred to the injured teammate, but also seeing David Martin-Robinson and Eli Washington getting into foul trouble in the fourth quarter. Along with that came a number of Hempfield mistakes - namely turnovers - that helped Coatesville chip away at what was once a huge Hempfield lead. The Raiders battled back to within five points with 1:26 left to play.

"I didn't think that clock could go fast enough," Walck laughed. "There was no lead that was going to be big enough."

"That 'next play' mentality is a big part of it," Moffatt replied when asked about how Hempfield regained composure after nearly giving up the lead. "I turned the ball over too and I take pride in taking care of the ball.

"The only way to get through it is moving on; you can't dwell on it," he added.

Alston not only delivered the huge three-pointer at halftime, he was second in scoring for Hempfield, finishing with 15 points. Washington and Martin-Robinson finished with six and five points, respectively. Adam Wernoch came off the bench and made two baskets, including a three-pointer, finishing with six points.

"It was difficult because with Keegan being out and David and Eli both fouling out - and those are guys who are always there at the end of the game - different guys were coming in," Moffatt said. "We found a way to win."

The Knights began the third quarter with an 8-2 run, claiming the biggest lead at 18 points (44-22) with 5:24 to play in the third. Following two baskets by Coatesville, the Knights took charge again and ran their lead up to 44-28 as Wernoch scored from the top of the key off a Moffatt assist.

From that point, the Raiders went on an 8-2 run, making it 46-36 after three quarters. Sophomore Jhamir Brickus scored nine of his team-leading 20 points in the fourth quarter for Coatesville, helping his team draw closer.

Brickus not only led Coatesville with 20 points, he reached a milestone in the process. He scored his 1,000th career point - yes, as a sophomore - and will start his junior year with 1,006 career points.

Senior center Tyrel Bladen, whose 6-foot-9 presence seemed to always be there for an offensive or defensive rebound, finished with 12 points for Coatesville. Dapree Bryant finished with 11.

The Black Knights will face District 12 champ Lincoln High School on Wednesday at 7:30 pm at Pottstown HS. The Railsplitters defeated the Upper Darby Royals 67-46 on Saturday evening, improving their mark to 22-6.


Blue Streak Hoop Teams Fall in State Openers March 12, 2018

The Manheim Township girls' basketball season came to an end on Friday night at Council Rock South as Souderton topped the Streaks 58-34 in the opening round of the PIAA Class 6A state playoffs.

The Indians, who had claimed the District One title prior to entering the PIAA's, used an outside shooting attack that resulted in 10 three-point baskets.

"They shot incredibly well, especially from three-point range," said head coach Sean Burkhart.

The Blue Streaks (19-8), who came into the state playoffs after having claimed seventh place in District Three, were down by 13 points at the half, but held the Indians (25-2) in check for the third quarter. The Streaks were within striking distance, but Souderton went on a 17-7 run in the fourth.

Burkhart gave Souderton credit.

"I think that from what I've seen among the teams that are left, Souderton might wind up winning the state championship," he said.

Megan Beaver connected on five of those three-pointers for Souderton. She finished with a game-high 18 points. Kate Connolly had 17 points while Megan Walbrandt, who sank a pair of three's, tallied 13.

"They were in the final four last year and have everyone back from that team," continued the coach. "For us to have played well against the potential favorite to win it all says a lot."

Burkhart praised his team's effort, especially extending the season into the state playoffs.

"It's tough when you get to this point," he said. "I told the players, 'Only one team ends the season the way they were dreaming of ending it.' Saying you were one of the best 32 teams in the state and what we've been through, shows the work these girls put in.

"To be playing on March 9 - a month beyond the end of the regular season and having that extra month to be together and practice will give the returning players a lot of great experience," he added.

"We had a long layoff between the league and district playoffs," continued the coach. "We hit a skid in districts, but the girls came out and played very well when our backs were against the wall in the [District Three Class 6A] seventh-place game."

Katie Bushong led the Streaks with 11 points. Alijiah Bonano added seven points, scoring one of the team's three-pointers. Megan Baldassarre netted six.

As for the non-returning players, Baldassarre and fellow seniors Eden Miller and Olivia Matto will be moving on.

"We lose three seniors who, all in their own right, played huge roles for us," commented the coach. "We lose two kids (Matto and Baldassarre) who had over 1,000 points in their careers. We lose a lot of punch.

"Eden was always matched up against the other teams' best scorers," Burkhart remarked. "We were in a lot of the games because of the defense she played."

However, as the case is with high school athletic programs, you reload the roster and look to replace the talent lost to graduation.

"We're going to have to find some people to step into their shoes," Burkhart said. "I think we have a group of kids who have seen enough of these big games that coming back will give us a lot of potential. Some of them are very excited to fill those spots.

"They had a chance to see what's out there," added the coach. "I pointed out to them that the Souderton seniors, in their freshman year, won only seven or eight games."


The Blue Streaks were facing the possible end to their season, heading into the fourth quarter of Saturday's playoff game at Bensalem. The Streaks, who entered the PIAA Class 6A playoffs as the fourth-place team out of District Three, carrying a 19-8 record, drew the Lower Merion Aces in the PIAA's opening round.

Township came out with just enough fight to send the game into overtime. The Streaks outscored the Aces 25-22 in the fourth quarter, evening the score at 77-77.

In the extra frame, however, the Aces were one bucket better, posting an 88-86 victory and improving to 22-5.

"Lower Merion was the number three seed out of District One, which is suburban Philadelphia," said head coach Matt Johns. "Their storied history has seven state titles. They have several shooters with at least one, possibly two players committed to NCAA Division I schools."

In this wild, high-scoring contest, each team had five players reach double digits in points, including Steve Payne's game-leading 26 points for Lower Merion.

The Streaks were led by Tyler Crespo, who poured in 17 points. Hilton Ridley and Tyler Vicidomini each made six baskets and three foul shots to tally 15 points on the night while Tommy Mann, with the help of four three-pointers, scored 14. Brendan Mellott added 10 points as he went 4-for-4 at the foul line.

"Tommy Mann had a career high with his 14 points," Johns noted. "He made three of his three-pointers in the fourth quarter and the other one in overtime.

"He has always been a 'Team first' player for us," added the coach. "He played a lot of minutes off the bench for us."

The Streaks' comeback was even more impressive considering they fell behind by more than the three-point deficit that separated them from the Aces after three quarters.

"We were actually down by seven or eight points with three minutes to go," Johns explained. "We started making key shots. I'm extremely proud of our kids."

Township took a slim one-point lead into the second quarter and headed into the locker room at halftime up 38-37. The Aces regained the lead with a solid third quarter.

Johns is looking toward the Streaks' next season as one with a great deal of promise.

"We're going to be returning five starters," he noted. "Will Greiner, who was one of our three-point shooters, will also be back.

"We graduate Reece Sachs, who was injured in the league play-in game against Garden Spot," continued the coach. "Cameron Mulcavage was our big man off the bench. He gave us inside points when we needed them."

And another of those seniors is Mann, who saved his career-high 14 points for his final game at Manheim Township.

"He played more and more as the season went on," Johns said.

The sophomore class of 2018 as well as a freshman could contribute significantly next year.

"Nick Kurtz will be a sophomore who might fill one of the roles next year," said Johns. "He's a rising sophomore who'll be important for us next year."

He also remarked that sophomore Mickey Stokes and junior Braydon Alaimo could be key players in their 2018-19 hoops campaign.

"Off season will be important for us," he added. "Just because you're somewhere now, doesn't guarantee you'll be there again next year.

"I think this was a team that showed we could go toe-to-toe with anybody," Johns said when asked about the legacy of this year's Township team. "We made it to the district semis and qualified for states. Those were big steps and we competed in both of those games.

"The goal for next year is to get over the hump," concluded the coach.


Michael Qualifies for PA State Bowling Tourney March 12, 2018

Tanner Michael captured an eighth place medal out of 200 male bowlers at the Eastern Regionals Tournament held at Leisure Lanes on March 2 and qualified for the upcoming PA State Tournament at Princess Lanes in Pittsburgh on Friday, March 16.

Michael is just Central's second bowler to ever roll in the state championship tournament since the sport was started in Manheim 14 years ago.

"I am very proud of Tanner for qualifying for the State Championship Tournament," said head coach Chuck Ruhl. "He has worked very hard this year and has managed to stay focused and consistently hit his mark. Tanner's technique and smooth approach has served him well and I am confident that he will be able to stay calm and relaxed during tournament play and will perform at his best ability," added Ruhl. "This achievement is a great way for him to finish his high school bowling career. Tanner has been an asset to the bowling team since he was a freshman and was named "Rookie of the Year". Every year he improves his game and has proved himself to be a quiet leader amongst the bowling team," ended Ruhl.

Olivia Good and Lauren Michael represented the girls' team and also participated in the Regional Championships that took place at Dutch Lanes. Good finished in 30th place and Lauren Michael finished in 80th place in a field of 180 bowlers.


Grappling it out against the best of the best from all across the entire state of Pennsylvania for three straight days, Will Betancourt and Zack Zeamer well represented Manheim Central in the PIAA Class AAA State Championship Tournament at Hershey's Giant Center on March 8-10.

Betancourt, a two time district gold medalist at the 113 pound weight class, contended against five top rated opponents and finished with a 3-2 record for a seventh place finish.

Beginning his tournament campaign, Betancourt (35-2) in championship round one was outmuscled by Hempfield Area's bronze medal winner Kyle Burkholder (40-5) by a 3-1 decision and knocked into the consolations round.

In his first matchup of consolations he pounded Pottsville's Nick Onea (31-9) to the mat for a pin fall at 3:20 and then edged West Allegheny's Jordan Watters (32-8) by decision 2-1 in the next round.

Andrew Smith (27-9) the sixth place finisher of Nazareth then defeated Betancourt in the next consolations bout by a 5-3 decision but Betancourt stayed alive in his next match winning by injury default against Christian Fisher (33-10) of Mifflin County to earn his seventh place finish.

Zack Zeamer, making his first ever tournament appearance, tangled with four highly ranked participants and ended his trip to chocolate town with a 2-2 record.

Zeamer (37-8), wrestling at the 132, started his tournament in the preliminaries round escaping Chartiers Valley's Zach Macy (29-11) by decision 5-2 and then moved on to championship round one where he survived East Stroudsburg South's Patrick Gould (29-5) in overtime by pin fall at 6:56.

Tyler Williams (32-10) the sixth place finisher from Souderton, then overpowered Zeamer in a quarterfinals round quarrel via a 6-1 decision and was sent into the consolations bracket.

Council Rock South's seventh place finisher Ben Radner (35-12) eliminated Zeamer from the tournament with a 3-2 consolation round affair.


Pioneer Hoop Teams Win State Openers March 12, 2018

The Pioneer basketball teams used strong fourth quarter efforts to pull off a pair of PIAA first round victories last week. The boys' team knocked off District 11 runner-up Bangor (22-3) 54-42 while the girls' upended Mastery Charter North 66-58.


Behind a career-high 33 points from Emma Gochnauer, the Lady Pioneers handed Mastery Charter North a 66-58 loss this past Saturday, March 10, in the opening round of the PIAA Championships at South Philly High School. It is their first state game victory since the 2008 season when L-S defeated Villa Maria 47-33 and advanced to the finals where they settled for second place after a 68-45 loss to Archbishop Carroll.

"We were the underdogs and pulled out the upset of the No. 2 team out of Philadelphia," said head coach Tony Fink. "Anybody in the L-L League, other than Lancaster Catholic, would struggle against their athletes. We gave up an early lead and rallied in the last five minutes of the game to win, essentially a home game for Mastery North. That says a lot about the girls and the program."

But this eight point win was closer than it appeared. After falling behind 15-12 in the first quarter, L-S used some long distance shooting to break down the Lady Pumas' 3-2 zone defense and took a 32-26 lead at the break. Gochnauer and Laura Horner combined for five 3-pointers as L-S outscored the home team 20-11 to go in front. Their biggest lead was 32-23 on a Gochnauer three ball with less than two minutes left in the half.

The Pumas, however, extended their defense in the third quarter and took advantage of five Pioneers turnovers to knot the score at 41-41.

The bulk of the fourth quarter, however, proved to be a free throw contest as both squads scored more points from the charity stripe than the field. L-S connected on 17 of 22 attempts and hit four field goals. Gochnauer led the charge with 11 points, including 5-of-8 from the stripe with Horner going 6-for-6 from the line. Mastery also connected on four field goals and went 10-of-14 from the stripe. They did, in fact, take a 48-43 lead with 6:31 left to play.

Four straight free throws by Gochnauer and Horner cut the lead to one, 48-47 but it wasn't until Horner completed a traditional three point play that L-S took its first lead of the final frame, 53-51 with 3:33 left.

Mastery knotted the score at 53-53 but Gochnauer, with seven straight points, provided the Pioneers with their biggest cushion, 60-53 with 1:42 left to play. The visitors closed the game making 7-of-10 free throws. They were 21-of-33 for the game.

Gochnauer's 33 point effort included 8-of-14 free throws and three treys. Horner netted 20 points on four triples and was 6-of-8 from the stripe. Hanna Garber added seven points, and Brittney Zameroski and Sarah Gawne netted three each.

Mastery connected on 12-of-22 free throws and got a 32 point effort from Alanis Hill.

Next up for the Pioneers is three time defending District 11 champ, Southern Lehigh (24-2). That game will take place Wednesday, March 14 at Hamburg High School at 7:30 pm.


In a back-and-forth game at Easton Area Middle School Friday, March 9, the Pioneers switched defenses in the fourth quarter and used a 16-0 run to hand Bangor a 54-42 loss. Two years ago L-S topped Berwick in the state opener.

"I think our defense was the difference in the fourth quarter," said head coach Ed Berryman. "We went to what I call a reverse triangle and two and they didn't adjust."

Jordan Sweger and Seth Beers went man-to-man on Bangor's top threats and Patrick Homes, Ryan Smith and Isaac Beers guarded the lanes with Smith taking over the baseline. Bangor, averaging around 60 points coming in, tried to close the gap from long range but missed more than they made (2-for-9).

"Their top scorer, Tony Jones (13.5 ppg) was their conference player of the year and Jordan held him to four points," Berryman pointed out. "Ben Holland had 16 points but Seth made him work for those points."

The game was tied seven times and L-S pushed a 10-8 first quarter deficit to a 20-13 second quarter advantage with three straight buckets by Holmes, Sweger and Zack Kingsley. The Pioneers held a 22-18 lead at the break.

Tied at 31-31 with 1:47 left in the third quarter, the Slaters buried a deep three just before the buzzer to go up 34-33 with eight minutes remaining.

Then the momentum started to shift. Tied again at 37-all on a pair of free throws by Ryan Smith at the 6:26 mark, the Pioneers went on a 14-0 run that included back-to-back three balls by Isaac Beers and lasted almost five minutes.

Smith, with just eight points in the first half, sparked the second half effort with 18 points including 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in that fourth quarter run.

"I thought the guys were very patient with trying to get Ryan the ball," said Berryman. "Seth had some excellent lob passes in and Jordan was effective with some quick bounce passes.

"Defensively, though, I felt we needed to minimize their offensive rebound opportunities," he added. "A couple of times they had two and three chances. In fact, both of the 3-pointers they hit in the fourth were on second and third attempts."

The Pioneers also extended that fourth quarter lead with a perfect 13-for-13 performance from the free throw line. They were an impressive 18-for-23 overall while the Slaters were a perfect 8-for-8.

"We haven't shot free throws that well all year," Berryman pointed out.

Backing Smith was Isaac Beers with 13 points, including three triples. Holmes knocked down seven, Sweger and S. Beers added three points each and Kingsley had two.

Next up for the District Three sixth place team is the No. 3 seed out of District 12, Archbishop Carroll (19-7). That game is slated for Tuesday, March 13 at 7:30 pm at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School.


Wilson, Root Earn PIAA Wrestling Medals March 12, 2018

While every athlete dreams of playing in the state playoffs, not many actually get that chance. This past weekend, however, two matmen and the girls' basketball team represented Solanco on the biggest stage of high school sports.

AJ Wilson and Ben Root made the trek to the Giant Center in Hershey to compete in the PIAA Class 3A Individual Wrestling Championships which got underway Thursday, March 8. They battled through and came home with 6th and 7th place, respectively, state medals.

Wilson, wrestling at 160, earned a bye into the Round of 16 and faced Luke Stout of Mt. Lebanon who happened to defeat the Solanco senior 6-1 in the first round of consolations last year at 152. This year Stout topped Wilson again. An escape with 1:52 left was all the scoring needed to drop Wilson into the consolation bracket.

Root drew sophomore Maximus Hale (47-6) in the Round of 16 and also came up short, 3-2. Using a second period escape to take the lead, Root gave up an escape and a takedown to fall behind 3-1 in the third. Root managed a late escape but couldn't grab the lead.

"After those first round bouts I thought maybe we'd be coming home," said head coach John Little. "I felt both had a chance to win those first bouts. Now it's one more loss and they're out. For both of them to come back and place is incredible. It was a grueling task but they accomplished it.

"I reminded them, after that first loss, that they were ready and rested," said Little. "That they shouldn't just hang around and keep things close. They needed to go after it and take some chances. You have to force the pace and hope it works out. It doesn't always, but that's the goal."

Wilson rebounded against Selinsgrove's Coy Bastian. After a scoreless first period against the freshman, Wilson used an escape and a takedown for a pivotal 3-0 lead as neither wrestler scored in the final period.

"That was AJ's 100th career win," noted Little. "He finished with a 102-20 record."

The third consolation round pitted Wilson against Kiski Area sophomore Nick Delp (37-8). Tied at 4-4 in the second period, Wilson gave up an escape but then rallied with a takedown and three nearfall points in the final 30 seconds to advance.

Waiting in the fourth round was another sophomore, Ethan Baney of Southwestern. Wilson got out to a 7-0 lead and earned a 4:49 fall. With a chance for third place, Wilson met up with Stout, again. Failing to avenge his first round loss, Wilson suffered a 9-0 loss. Then, in a battle for fifth place, Wilson came up short, 10-3 against Scranton senior Jacob Burgette (36-7).

He finishes his season with a 40-4 record that includes 14 falls and a sixth place PIAA medal. Erie Cathedral Prep junior Carter Starocci won the 160 pound bracket with a 42-0 record.

Root rebounded in his first consi bout as well, posting a solid 5-2 decision over Hershey's Nyiem Flucas. He used a second period escape and two third period takedowns to advance to consi round two where he went up against Pottsville's Cole Painter. Holding a 4-3 lead after two periods, Root took control in the final seconds, scoring a takedown and two nearfall points to win 11-3.

Root notched his third straight win with a 13-7 result over Kyle Homet (39-6) of Waynesburg. Root used a seven point second period to push out to a 9-3 lead and added a late takedown and nearfall to advance to the fourth consi round opposite Greensburg Salem's Jesse Quatse. Despite a 2-0 first period lead, Root suffered an 11-2 loss just one match away from a chance for third.

He came back to finish seventh overall with a hard-fought 9-6 decision over sophomore Tyler Mousaw of Unionville (35-9). Tied at 5-5 in the second, Root sandwiched Mousaw's escape with a reversal and takedown to earn a PIAA medal. He finishes the season with a 32-4 record and posts a 117-41 career mark.

"After those opening losses I thought AJ and Ben wrestled more up to their potential," said Little. "They both wanted to place higher, of course, but last year they didn't place at all. This is a huge achievement and I'm very pleased and proud of their accomplishments."

In other wrestling news, Wilson, Root and Grayson Charles will compete in the Berks vs. L-L League all-star meet at Tulpehocken this Tuesday.


While seniors represented the wrestling team, a team of underclassmen, with just one senior, gained valuable experience with their trip to Marywood University Saturday night. The Mares had a tall task in their PIAA first round game against three time District Two champ Abington Heights. The Comets were playing in their third straight PIAA opener at Insalaco Center and, after losing for two straight seasons, were looking to advance. They did, posting a 53-34 win over the Mares.

The Comets (19-7) scored the first 16 points of the game as they took control early, nailing back-to-back threes for a quick 6-0 lead.

"This was quite a challenge. They have a ton of experience and two college bound athletes," noted head coach Chad McDowell. "Their point guard, Hannah Kowalski (14 points) is heading to the University of Scranton and forward Cassie Ksiazek is heading to East Stroudsburg University.

"When you reach the state playoffs, 31 of 32 teams lose their last game of the season," he continued. "When you get placed in the brackets it is all luck of the draw. We ran into a very good team."

Koisalski and Ksiazek (career high 9 blocks) combined for 13 of the Comets' 23 first quarter points. The Mares managed six points in a valiant effort and four came from reserve Liz Mowrer who finished with a team-high 11 points.

"Liz had a nice game," McDowell praised. "She took advantage of some holes within the zone and got some good looks.

"But overall, we got off to a slow start," the coach continued. "There was some nervous energy and we committed multiple turnovers and had many empty possessions. And we did not shoot very well against their 2-3 matchup zone," he added. "We got good looks, but nothing seemed to fall. We tried to weather the storm, but once Abington Heights took the lead, they never let up," he added. "We needed better execution and more stops on defense. When we are able to run, we are more efficient but we couldn't get into our transition game."

Things settled down after that first quarter with Solanco holding the Comets to 30 points over the next three frames while scoring 28 but the 32-12 first have deficit was too big a hole to dig out of. The Mares were held to 3-of-24 shooting in that first half with Mower hitting all three.

"Our biggest strength was our heart and never quit attitude," McDowell said. "Even though we were down, we never quit playing. This team plays with heart every possession. Our second half execution was much better and we started making shots."

Jess Cabrera followed with 10 points, including 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Grace Kreider scored all five of her points in the fourth quarter, which Solanco won 15-10, dished out three assists and grabbed four steals. Jenna Dombach netted four points and Aleksa Burger, who hauled in seven rebounds, and Jade Eshleman chipped in with two points.

"We met and exceeded many of our expectations and goals this year," McDowell remarked. "We qualified for and played in the league, district and state playoffs and I am proud of these girls for their efforts and accomplishments. They love basketball and continually work on their own to get better. It has been a great season."


Stewart Sixth In PIAA Wrestling March 11, 2018


Lady Bears Challenge Crusaders in LL Playoffs March 9, 2018

The Elizabethtown girls' basketball team had their run at history derailed in Lititz on February 13th. The culprit, a 53-35 semifinal loss to Lancaster Catholic in the Lancaster-Lebanon League Playoffs that ended the Lady Bears quest for their first L-L league title in 40+ years.

Despite the loss ending his club's title dreams, head coach John Myers remained positive. "I was proud of our effort. We came to play and worked hard on every possession."

That effort allowed the play-off newbies to hang with battle tested Lancaster Catholic for the first half but the Lady Crusaders used an overpowering third quarter to pull away from Elizabethtown. Marena Lonardi provided the fuel for the first half work, scoring 11 of E-town's 15 first half points, keeping the Lady Bears close at 22-15.

Catholic's do it all junior, Kiki Jefferson, led the Lady Crusader's third quarter surge. Netting eight of her team high 18 points in the frame, helping Catholic to an 18-8 edge. That turned a manageable seven-point deficit into an intimating 17-point hole with only eight minutes remaining. Another strong quarter by Lonardi allowed Elizabethtown to keep pace in the final frame but the damage had already been done.

Lonardi ended up with a game high 19 points but she was the only Lady Bear to reach double figures. Amber Orban was next up with six points, followed by Sydney Pierson's four points. Sam Stackhouse, Autumn Royer and Elise Hassinger each finished with two points.

Myers took his positivity even further, using the loss as a solid teaching point. "This was a great game to get us prepared for District playoffs," said Myers. "We still have a lot to play for and more goals in front of us."

The district game Myers mentioned is a February 22nd District 3-6A quarterfinal tilt against the winner of a first-round game between Penn Manor and Governor Mifflin that takes place on the 20th. The quarterfinal game with the Penn Manor/Mifflin winner with be in Elizabethtown with tip-off set for 7pm.

The Lady Bears kicked off their L-L title quest with a 69-55 win over Solanco on Saturday, February 10th. E-town controlled from the tip, outscoring the Golden Mares in all but the final frame, leading to the 14-point victory. Lonardi was the catalyst, dropping a game high 23 points but she was not alone. She enjoyed the company of three teammates in the double-digit club, led by Royer's 15 points. Orban (12 points) and Pierson (10 points) rounded out the quartet.


The rifle season officially came to a close on Saturday February 10th with the annual league individual tournament. The Bears took home top team honors, edging out the two Manheim schools, by placing four shooters in the top 20. That incredible performance included Caleb Flores continuing his scorching hot late season run. One week after teaming up with Matthew Risbon to win the Pairs Tournament, Flores stepped up his game to take home the L-L individual crown. The senior sniper recorded a perfect 200 with four centers, topping Ephrata's Joel Potts who also had a 200 but only two centers.

Madison Garner and Risbon joined Flores in the top 10 with Garner finishing sixth and Risbon ninth. Garner, a senior, notched a 198 with three centers while Risbon ended up with the same 198 score but managed only one center. Daniel Bert and Gage Schatz joined Garner and Risbon as members of the 198 club but Bert was shuffled down to 11th thanks to just one center and Schatz down to 13th with no centers. David Buckwalter was the final Bear to crack the top 20, settling into 17th place thanks to his 197 with one center.

Flores, Risbon and Bert also picked up All-Star honors thanks to their sterling regular season. Flores finished his final season tied for the top average in the L-L, his 99.5 matching Manheim Central's Cade Ginder and Manheim Township's Hana Musser. Risbon finished just behind that trio with his 99.42 average while Bert rounded out the 14-person All-Star squad with his 98.92 average.

Elizabethtown also finished out the regular season on a five-game winning streak courtesy of a 497-481 throttling of Wilson on February 8th. Flores, Risbon and Aaron Tetkoskie all shot perfect 100s with Schatz (99) and Bert (98) nipping at their heels.


The swimming teams took the plunge into the postseason on Friday, February 9th and Saturday, February 10th. The boy's side was up first, making the trip to West Lawn on the 9th to splash around in Wilson's Roy G. Snyder Natatorium for the L-L League championships. The Bears collected 25 team points for their work, good enough for seventh place in the team standings.

Four different swimmers combined to collect those 25 points and a total of five medals. Ben Azzalina and Daniel Mueser led the way, along with Stuart Readinger and Dylan Quinn. The quartet picked up two relay medals while tallying a combined three solo trips to the medal stand.

The foursome opened the meet by shaving over two seconds off their best 200 medley relay time, posting a 1:46.93 to finish seventh. Later in the proceedings they picked up a sixth-place medal for their 1:36.09 in the 200-freestyle relay, trimming nearly a second off their previous best time.

The shrinking time theme continued in the individual events as Mueser picked up two solo medals by going faster. He trimmed 0.21 seconds off his best 50-free time, his 22.03 placing him fourth. Another second disappeared from his 100-freestyle seeding time, a 48.35 pushing the senior up to third in the event. Azzalina picked up the final medal for the boy's, placing fifth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.71, also faster than his seeded time.

The Lady Bears hit the pool on Saturday and behind their own quartet, finished sixth in the team standings. Their 36 team points nestled them just behind Cedar Crest and just above Ephrata and Penn Manor.

Olivia Rachael led the way, taking part in two medal winning relays while also grabbing two solo medals. She teamed with Gabby Walsh, Lexi Fink and Abbi Dehmey to clock a 1:54.06 in the 200-medley relay, taking fifth while trimming over four seconds off their previous best time. They also swam faster than their seeded time in the 200-freestyle relay, taking fourth with a time of 1:44.63.

Rachael's solo work began in the 50 freestyle where her 24.55 was not only quicker than her seeded time, it was good enough for fourth on the day. Rachael moved up a couple places in the final 100-freestyle pecking order where she entered as the sixth seed. She went nearly two seconds faster in the L-L meet and took home the silver medal as a result.

Walsh captured the final Elizabethtown medal, nearly breaking the one-minute barrier in the 100-backstroke. She finished the event with a time of 1:00.93, good enough for a bronze medal on the day.


Breitbach, Bowlers Qualify for States March 9, 2018

The goal of any athlete is to compete on the biggest stage possible. For Alaina Breitbach and the Penn Manor bowling team, that stage is the PIAA Championships. Breitbach punched her ticket at the District Championships while the bowling team handled the competition at the PA East Regionals.

After a three week layoff, the Comet swimmers, with a couple of medals and a pair of school records, took to the pool with a vengeance at the District Three Championships held March 3 at Cumberland Valley High School.

Breitbach, seeded second in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:06.46, improved her time, grabbed her second consecutive bronze medal and qualified for the PIAA championships. The sophomore also broke a 1990 school record in the 200 individual medley and placed tenth with a time of 2:10.61. She was seeded eighth but with a 2:13.21.

Also in record-breaking mode was Sam Lutter. The sophomore, seeded 12th in the 100 breaststroke, clocked a 1:00.80, breaking a school record set in 1993. He also dropped five seconds in the 200 IM, posting a time of 2:02.31.

"It was an awesome weekend," said head coach Eric Urban.

The girls 200 medley team of Erica Shaub, Breitbach, Jalyn Clow and Anna Sugra also finished 12th with a time of 1:54.07.

"Anna also PR'd in the 200 free with a 1:59.59 and she PR'd in the 100 free with a 54.88," noted Urban. "Jared Stephan dropped five seconds in the 200 IM and placed 17th with a 2:00.37 and dropped 11 seconds in the 500 free, placing 14th with a 4:52.54."


Also with a chance to extend their season, the Comet bowlers took to the lanes March 2-3 and punched their ticket to the big dance by winning their first East PA Regional Championship by upending Wilson.

"We've been second the past couple of years so it was nice to finish on top," said head coach Chris Vital. "This is such a nerve-wracking day as only the top six teams qualify for states and only the top 12 individuals."

As for the individual competition, that got underway Friday with the boys again competing at Leisure Lanes and the girls at 222 Dutch Lanes. In a pool of 191 qualifying bowlers, the Comets had five chances to break into the top 12 but managed just one. Dan Mease, with a third place finish, became just the fourth Comet to qualify for states in 14 years, joining Tanner Simet, Cody Johnson and Brandon Yarnell.

"Only two boys qualified from the L-L League," noted Vital, "Dan and Tanner Michael from Manheim Central. It's a tough task."

Dan rolled a 246, 247, 250, 238 and 227 for a 1208 total. Danville's Cody Kizis earned the top total with a 1223 and Hunter Mikosz, of Muhlenberg, followed with a 1210.

In the bracket finals, Dan faced Lewisburg's Anthony Neuer in the quarterfinals where he suffered a 278-201 loss. For his efforts, Mease was one of five named to the Eastern PA Boys All-Star Team.

Joining him in the singles competition was Gavin Davidson (43rd with a 1046 total), Nick Mease (57th - 1025), Michael Morris (108th - 944), Mark Smith (109th - 941) and Jimmy Mahler (12st - 924).

"To have five guys qualify is an accomplishment," said Vital. "They all kept battling. And, because of their efforts, I had a pretty good feeling going into the team competition on Saturday."

In the girls' individual competition at Dutch Lanes, Katelyn Welsh was Manor's top finisher, rolling a 948 five game total for 41st place. Carrie Shertz (107th - 774), Lisa Strausner (125th - 739), Lauren Shroyer (140th - 691) and Stephanie Mohn (146th - 651) also competed.

In team competition on Saturday, starters Mark Smith, Davidson, D. Mease, Michael Morris, and N. Mease rolled a 1056 in their first game. "We were in fifth place after that and Dan rolled a 267," noted Vital. "But because of the importance of qualifying for states, I actually made some substitutions, bringing in Jordan Kahler and Jimmy Mahler and Jordan wound up throwing five of the last six strikes. We did better in the second game with everyone throwing over 200."

Davidson (225), D. Mease (242), N. Mease (217), Kahler (245) and Mahler (238) contributed to an 1167 second game score.

"After that second game we were in second place but the lanes started to dry out and most teams were struggling," noted Vital. "We finished with a 1018 and that kept us in second place heading into the baker sets where five bowlers each bowl two frames. We got off to a slow start with a 168 but the rest of our games were over 200 and we finished with a 4569, behind Neshaminy with a 4637."

In the bracket finals, the Comets edged Daniel Boone 2-1 in the semifinals. They rallied from a 244-213 loss to win 217-150, and 232-213 and faced Wilson, who knocked off Neshaminy 2-0, in the finals. Again the Comets got off to a slow start, bowing out 189-184 but came back strong, winning 225-157, and 201-193.

"It was a total team effort," said Vital. "We got contributions up and down the lineup. Now we see if we can secure our third straight PIAA crown."

The girls' team (Welsh, Shertz, Strausner, Shroyer, Michala Harvey, Leila Abbas and Natalie Whiteside) had a rougher time, finishing 12th (3289) out of 31 teams. Shikellamy was the top squad with a 4388 while Elizabethtown finished fourth (4008).


Donegal Swimmers Qualify For States March 7, 2018

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