Clutch Koser lifts Bears
nSenior's 1,000th career point ties L-S with 3:46 to play, before he scores game-winning bucket in 47-43 nod over Pioneers. BY ED GRUVER, Sports Writer
It was quite an opening act.
Saving the biggest shot of his career for one of the bigger games of his career, Elizabethtown senior forward Tyler Koser drilled a game-tying 3-pointer with 3:46 left in Monday night's L-L League boys' playoff opener opposite Lampeter-Strasburg.
And if that isn't enough drama for you, try this.
Koser's timely trey gave him exactly 1,000 points in his career, and 2:11 later, the power forward made it 1,002 with a rebound basket that served as the eventual game-winner in an emotional, 47-43 comeback victory amid a packed, raucous house in E-town.
"It's the biggest three of my career," said Koser, whose game-high 19 points and nine rebounds helped lead the Section Two champions into the semifinal round for the second straight season and fourth time in five years.
The Bears (17-6) face Section One runner-up Cedar Crest (15-8) Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hempfield.
E-town defeated Crest 62-56 on Dec. 14.
"They've gotten much better since," Bears boss Kevin Dolan said of the Falcons, who handled Section Four champ Lancaster Catholic on Monday night for their ninth win in 10 games.
Said Koser, "We'll go in, play hard and play our game."
E-town played its game Monday night, picking up 16 points and three steals from slick guard Lucas Jewell as well as another outstanding effort from defensive stopper Kirby Breault.
The latter helped limit Pioneers' star swingman J.D. Achille to 6 points, half his season average.
"I thought we had all the momentum," L-S coach John Achille said. "We had opportunities. Give (E-town) credit. They hung in there and fought back."
Austin Smucker scored a team-high 11 for the Section Three runners-up (15-8). Seven of Smucker's points came in the second quarter, when the Pioneers rallied from a seven-point deficit with a 9-0 run that closed the half and gave L-S its first lead at 24-22.
Jordan Cunningham's consecutive threes in the third and five free throws from Alec Groff at the close of the quarter pushed the Pioneers' advantage to 37-31.
Buckets by Achille and Cunningham early in the fourth put the Pioneers up by nine, the largest lead either team enjoyed.
E-town answered with a Mike Kinderwater corner trey, and when senior forward Jake Sweger fouled out with 6:16 left, Koser's attack on the basket became relentless.
"Jake is one of our key players, we need to have him on the floor," John Achille said. "I just wish (the officials) let the players decide the game."
Koser went on to score nine of the Bears' final 12 points. The most dramatic of those was his game-tying, career-milestone trey.
"I've got the confidence to shoot it," Koser said.
Confidence, and impeccable timing, too.