Pioneers roll on L-S has little difficulty with struggling Elco
BY JASON FULGINITI, Sports Staff
Same team. Same gym. Same problem for Elco's girls' basketball team.
"We always seem to struggle getting out of the gate here at (Lampeter-Strasburg)," Raiders coach Ashli Shay said Thursday night.
As was the case again Thursday.
Powered by eight first-half points from center Lexie Lantz and six more from guard Isabella Miranda, Lampeter-Strasburg stormed out to a 26-9 halftime lead before rolling to a 51-28 L-L League Section Three victory over Elco in Lampeter.
With the win, L-S (12-1 L-L, 17-1 overall) maintained its two-game lead in the section standings over Northern Lebanon (10-3, 13-7) with three regular-season games remaining.
The Pioneers could clinch at least a tie for the section title with a win at Manheim Central on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Elco's L-L playoff hopes took a serious hit with Thursday's loss, which dropped the Raiders (8-5, 11-8) two games behind Northern Lebanon for the section's second and final playoff berth.
Still, L-S coach Tony Fink isn't taking anything for granted, despite the Pioneers' current position.
"Tomorrow when they come into practice, they're going to work," Fink said. "The last thing we want to do now is get sloppy."
There were spells of sloppiness for L-S on Thursday -- most notably its eight first-quarter turnovers and a mediocre third period during which it scored only one field goal on 1-for-9 shooting.
But those issues were hardly enough to hurt the Pioneers against Elco, which coughed it up 11 times on its own in the first two quarters, during which it shot a dismal 3 for 21.
The Raiders didn't have a single field goal in the first quarter, after which they trailed 9-3.
"Their court is so big, which is always a factor for us," Shay said afterward. "They beat us up and down the floor in the first half. And I thought that really enabled them to grab the momentum and put that first half away strong."
An 8-2 run to end the second quarter gave the Pioneers their 26-9 halftime edge, which was only mildly threatened when Elco began the second half with an 8-2 surge of its own to get within 28-17 with 3:08 remaining in the third.
"I thought we played three really good quarters and one (not so much)," Fink said of the third period, during which his team was outscored 11-8. "But even though we didn't play well (in that quarter), they (Elco) only cut the lead to 12 or 13.
"(The Raiders) made some tough shots in the second half," Fink continued. "They might have had three open shots the whole game. So I thought our defense was pretty (solid)"
All of which could explain Elco's 11-for-40 performance from the floor by game's end.
Still trailing 40-26 with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders watched L-S put it away with an 11-2 game-ending run.
Fortunately for Fink, the Pioneers managed to do that without Lantz, their leading scorer, who spent most of the final quarter on the bench in order to take pressure off some torn ligaments in her right thumb.
Despite playing with a taped up right hand, Lantz still finished with game-highs in points (15) and rebounds (9).
She was the only player on either team to score in double figures.
"Tomorrow when they come into practice, they're going to work. The last thing we want to do now is get sloppy."