Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
LANCASTER-LEBANON LEAGUE BOYS' BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK Handling the Bears' necessities
nKoser and Jewell are both leaders who, according to coach Dolan, lead by deed, not by words. But they're just part of reason why blue-collar Elizabethtown has already clinched the Section Two title, its second straight section crown. BY ED GRUVER, Sports Staff
They're all about hustle.
And, hard work.
Walk into Elizabethtown High's steamy, crowded gym on a mid-winter's evening, watch the Bears banging bodies beneath the boards, diving on the hardwoods and yes, at times dripping blood, and you wonder why their home-town white-and-blue uniforms don't include high-top Chuck Taylors.
And by the way, does E-town film its games in grainy black-and-white?
They should, because these Bears are old school. Those blue collars are on their unis? They signify more than just a fashion statement.
To a man, the Bears reflect their boss, Kevin Dolan, who played at E-town back in the early 1970s and prefers a scrappy approach.
"I've been very lucky to have teams I've enjoyed coaching, and I've enjoyed this team as much as any," Dolan said.
"They're not the most talented basketball players, but they work hard."
And they win.
The Bears have done something this season no other team in program history has ever done -- repeat as L-L League section champions.
Depending on how Lancaster Catholic fares over these final three regular season games, the Bears could be the lone L-L boys' team to repeat.
At the very least, they've made program history. On top of that, they've won three section titles in Dolan's six years at the wheel.
Impressive, considering that until Dolan's arrival as head man -- he had previously been an assistant with the Bears' girls' and boys' basketball teams -- E-town hadn't claimed a section crown since 1977.
To his credit, Dolan deflects praise.
"It all starts," he said, "with Tyler and Lucas."
That would be Tyler Koser and Lucas Jewell, seniors both, who start at power forward/center and point guard, respectively.
They are the only two starters back from last year's Section Two championship squad. And they are similar and dissimilar at the same time.
Koser leads the team in scoring (18.8 points per game average) and ranks second in free throws made (69) and third in made 3-pointers (15).
Jewell is second in scoring (15.8) but first in free throws (77) and threes (21).
Koser, a three-year starter, is the section's reigning MVP. Jewell, a four-year starter, is a section All-Star.
They're both leaders, and according to Dolan, they lead by deed, not words.
"Tyler works extremely hard on the offensive and defensive end," Dolan said. "He's physical. He took five charges in a game (against Manheim Township). Five charges from your leading scorer? That's a phenomenal example to set for the younger players. Last year, he took four charges in one game.
"Lucas always knows what we want. We're a tough team to press, having a guy like Lucas handling the ball."
This is not to suggest that the Bears are a two-man team. Kirby Breault, T.J. Stephens, Jordan Jones, Mike Kinderwater, Tyler Rosepink and Ryan Mascia have played significant roles this season.
"They have," Dolan said, "done quite a job."
Each has their role, and each has fulfilled it.
Breault is the Bears' defensive stopper, a guy who draws assignments on players as diverse as Hempfield guard Drew Johnson and McCaskey forward Devonne Pinkard. Against the latter, the 5-8 Breault yielded almost a full foot to the 6-6 McCaskey forward.
"He's just a bulldog, a gamer," Dolan said. "He's one of the best competitors I've ever coached."
Jones and Kinderwater are shooters who own the Midas touch, having combined for more than 200 points and 30 threes this season.
Kinderwater is a physical presence. "He puts bodies on people," Dolan said.
Mascia, one of seven seniors on the team, is, in the words of Dolan, a "program guy" who has been with the Bears since his junior varsity days.
Dolan said the sophomore has "meshed very well" with the veterans.
And it's this veteran group that has helped E-town's boys' basketball program become one of the best in the league and in the district, where they're ranked seventh in Class AAAA.
And while Dolan praises his players, they're quick to return the compliments.
"Coach teaches us to play hard," Koser said recently. "He dwells on that."
These Bears are blue-collar, yes. But they've become blue chip as well.
Games to Watch: Not counting Section Four, where Lancaster Catholic (10-3), Lancaster Mennonite (9-4) and Lebanon Catholic (7-6) are still fighting for the top spot with three games remaining in the L-L's regular season, the race is for second place in Sections One, Two and Three.
Tuesday night, Lancaster Catholic is at Pequea Valley and Lebanon Catholic is at Columbia. Mennonite hosts Annville-Cleona.
In Section One, Cedar Crest (8-5), Manheim Township (8-5), Warwick (8-5) and Hempfield (7-6) are within a game of each other.
Tuesday, Crest, one of the hottest teams in the league and winners of seven straight, is at Warwick. Hempfield hosts Penn Manor and Township is at section champ McCaskey.
It's a two-team race in Section Two between Cocalico and Lebanon, both 6-7 in the L-L, and they meet Tuesday night in Lebanon.
In Section Three, defending champ Lampeter-Strasburg is 9-4 and tied with Northern Lebanon for second behind Donegal. Manheim Central (7-6) is two games back. The Barons are at L-S Tuesday, and Northern Lebanon is at Elco.
Friday night offers more of the same, with numerous games having L-L playoff implications.
In Section One, Township is at Hempfield, Warwick hosts Penn Manor and Crest is at McCaskey.
In Section Two, Cocalico is at Ephrata and Lebanon travels to E-town.
Section Three sees Central at Elco, L-S hosting Garden Spot and Northern Lebanon at Donegal.
In Section Four, Lancaster Catholic is at rival Columbia, Mennonite at Pequea Valley and Lebanon Catholic at county rival Annville-Cleona.