E-town men close out Dutchmen
By Mike Gross, Sports Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a spot Elizabethtown College's men's basketball team has found itself in often this winter.
The Blue Jays led Lebanon Valley the entire game Saturday, by as many as 14 points.
But now, halfway through the second half, the lead was down to three. E-town was hanging on, seemingly without answers to its most nagging, season-long question.
How are they going to score enough?
Then Will Schlosser hit a tough jumper from the corner with the shot clock waning. A moment later he drilled a three-pointer from the outskirts of Middletown.
"That one felt really good,'' he said later.
Then he found Joe Schwalm cutting for a layup. Then Schlosser hit a killer, a heavily-guarded three, and it was 59-45.
It wasn't over, not nearly, but the Jays kept making winning plays down the stretch of a much-needed 69-56 win in a Commonwealth Conference game at Thompson Gym.
"It's been a frustrating year,'' said Bob Schlosser, Will's dad and coach. "We've lost a lot of close games where we didn't make plays. Tonight, we made shots when things started slipping.''
Neither of these old rivals are having vintage seasons. But their playing styles endure. Lebanon Valley (7-12, 4-8) takes it slow, methodically working the ball inside. E-town (6-12, 4-8) goes faster, and shoots from deeper.
Both teams mostly played zone defense Saturday, which does go a bit against type, E-town to invite the Dutchmen to shoot threes, LVC to keep the Jays from running their flex offense.
"They do a great job of running their stuff and getting it inside no matter what you're in,'' Bob Schlosser said.
But the Dutchmen looked sleepy early, turned the ball over on six of their first eight possessions, and trailed 7-2, 11-4, 16-6, on Schlosser's first three off the bench, 24-11 ten minutes in.
After intermission, LVC started getting good stuff around the hoop, especially from Danny Brooks, a 6-6 senior forward with a lot of ways to go offensively. Brooks scored 10 of his game-high 20 in one seven-minute stretch of the second half, and his layup in traffic made it 44-41 with about 11 minutes left.
Schlosser's heroics soon followed.
He's part of a 2011 E-town recruiting class that included that year's Lancaster-Lebanon League co-players of the year, Lancaster Catholic's Phil Wenger and Lee Eckert of Hempfield.
Things haven't worked out as dreamed for them so far, but they're only sophomores. And down the stretch Saturday, as Wenger locked on to Brooks and Ecker plowed inside for baskets and Schlosser rained threes, it wasn't hard to see what the dream was, or is, about.
"All three of them got varsity minutes as freshman, and maybe (people) expected them to be all-conference players by now,'' Schlosser said. "This is a man's game, at this level. It takes a while.''
"It's a tough conference,'' Will Schlosser said. "I don't know… we've shown glimpses of the team we thought we'd be.''
Schlosser led the Jays with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 4-of-6 from the arc. Schwalm was excellent as usual, with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, six rebounds and four assists in just 23 minutes. Ben Cable added 11 points and five boards.
The E-town zone worked. LVC won the rebound battle by only 34-33, and the Dutchmen made only one three-pointer, in eight attempts.
"I thought about coming out of it,'' Schlosser admitted. "But, we had a lead. If it was ever a one- or two-point game, maybe it's different.''
Four of E-town's last seven are at home, starting with Lancaster Bible College at 8 p.m. Monday.n