Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Houseal sparks Donegal BY ED GRUVER, Sports Staff
Dylan Houseal is Donegal's defensive stopper.
Tuesday night at Lampeter-Strasburg, the senior guard picked the most opportune times to go on the offensive.
Twice, he drilled 3-pointers in the second half to preserve tenuous leads, and by game's end, his 13 points helped the Indians remain unbeaten and all but end the Pioneers' reign as two-time L-L League Section Three kings with a 49-42 final.
"I love playing defense, trying to stop the other scorer," Houseal said. "When I have open threes, I'm going to take them. Tonight, they were falling.
"Why not take them?"
Indians boss Ryan Butt said it's all part of Houseal's determination to help his team any way he can.
"He's the kind of guy who will go out and do whatever we want," he said. "He's kind of an unsung hero for us. He plays his heart out."
Donegal (12-0 L-L, 18-0 overall) needed every bit of heart it got from Houseal, Martin Dietrich (team-high 16 points and game-best 9 rebounds), Jason Dietrich (14 points) and the rest of the squad.
L-S (8-4, 10-7) led twice, at 4-0 and 6-5 following a rebound basket by Jake Sweger (12 points). The Pioneers trailed 19-11 at halftime but closed to within two early in the third quarter and to tie the game at 38 midway through the fourth.
Their comeback was keyed by Jordan Cunningham, a starter who came off the bench Tuesday in head coach John Achille's new-look lineup.
All Cunningham did in his new role was score a game-high 17 and drain a game-best five threes.
His final trey of the night forged the aforementioned tie at 38 with 4:45 left.
"He got it going and he was on fire," Achille said. "For a guy his size (6-foot-4), he's always been a good shooter; he has a feathery shot.
"He kept us in it."
Cunningham drilled three 3-pointers in the first 3:15 of the fourth, erasing the eight-point lead Donegal had carried into the quarter.
"We had to make sure we covered (Number) 40 (Cunningham) a little better," Butt said. "We were trying to rotate on the ball and he made us pay for it."
Houseal countered with a 3-ball, and Michael Banwell, Martin Dietrich and Jason Dietrich combined to score all of Donegal's points in a decisive 11-4 game-ending run.
The victory marked the Indians' second this season over the defending section champs -- the Tribe earned a 38-28 win in Mount Joy on Dec. 21 -- and moves Donegal one game closer to its first section title since 1983.
"We know we've got to close out strong," Houseal said of a schedule whose final four games of the regular season are home dates against Manheim Central, Garden Spot, Northern Lebanon and Elco.
"It's been a long time since Donegal has won a section title. We want to give that to the school."
While the Pioneers concede their crown -- "(Winning the section) is obviously not going to happen," Achille said -- they're battling Northern Lebanon (8-4, 12-5) and Manheim Central (7-5, 11-5) for the runner-up spot and a berth in the L-L playoffs.
The Barons beat the Vikings, 55-54, Tuesday. L-S hosts Central next Tuesday and closes its season Feb. 5 at Northern Lebanon.
"We have (four) games left," Achille said. "We plan on winning the rest."
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