Falcons outlast E-town in double overtime
BY GORDIE JONES, Sports Correspondent
Cedar Crest leaned on a freshman to advance to the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship game.
Now the Falcons are leaning on a time-honored truth (or, at least, half-truth), in hopes of upsetting lordly McCaskey in Friday's final.
"It's hard to beat a team three times (in one season), especially a good team like us," said the freshman in question, Evan Horn, after scoring 27 points -- a high for his first varsity season -- to pace his team to a 78-72 double-overtime victory over Elizabethtown, in a semifinal Wednesday night in Landisville.
Senior Clay Penchard, who contributed 18 points and some strong defense late in the proceedings against the Bears' Tyler Koser, said much the same thing about a third encounter with the Red Tornado, which waxed Crest 99-48 on Jan. 7, and beat the Falcons 81-65 on Feb. 1.
"We need to keep our heads and play hard," Penchard said of Friday's re-rematch. "They're a good team, but they're not unbeatable."
The Falcons (16-8) have been fairly close to that of late, going 11-1 since opening the season 5-7. On Wednesday Horn dropped in the go-ahead layup 40 seconds into the second extra period, a session in which the Falcons outscored E-town 6-0.
That only begins to tell the tale of a game in which the Bears forged ties at the end of regulation (on two free throws by senior guard Lucas Jewell with 16.9 seconds left) and the first OT (on a 3-pointer by sub guard Mike Kinderwater with 17.8 seconds remaining), with Jewell's foul shots coming moments after Crest center Andrew Eudy -- all alone after the Falcons beat pressure -- missed a possible game-clinching dunk.
But Jewell, who scored 21 points, fouled out with 2:40 left in the first extra period, and E-town (17-7) sagged without him. The Bears managed exactly one basket after he departed --Kinderwater's tying triple from the right wing -- and the Falcons were able to turn most of their defensive attention to Koser, the Bears' other main threat.
Koser scored 27 points, but only one in the last 10:13. Penchard switched onto him late in the first overtime, and strongly contested Koser as he missed a potential game-winning jumper from the left elbow in the closing seconds of that period.
"I expected him to go to the rack hard," Penchard said. "I wasn't going to let him beat me off the dribble."
And in the second OT Penchard barely let him get the ball. Koser didn't have a single attempt from the floor.
"That's a senior stepping up," coach Tom Smith said, "and saying, 'I want him.' "
Horn's go-ahead bucket came after Eudy, scrapping on the floor for a loose ball, found the freshman knifing down the lane. It was the only field goal of the second extra period; the Falcons' other four points came at the foul line.
Horn had not scored at all in Monday's first-round victory over Lancaster Catholic, choosing instead to concentrate on his defensive assignment, Crusaders guard Erik Goldbach.
"To be a good player, you have to play both ways," Horn said. "That's how I felt going into this game. I felt like I had to take a bigger role."
Safe to say he did that. And safe to say he made a big difference when he returned from surgery on his right middle finger on the eve of the season. He broke the digit for the second time in three years during football season. And he's not sure, but he thinks he might have broken it once again against Catholic High.
Put it this way -- the finger, gnarled and discolored, certainly looks broken.
Didn't bother him Wednesday, though.
"Adrenaline kicked in," he said, smiling.
Crest has been riding a similar (ahem) crest for weeks. Now it's a matter of how the Falcons deal with a Tornado.