Cedar Crest vs L-S -LL Boys Basketball Semifinal

Cedar Crest's Jason Eberhart (42) looks to score against Lampeter-Strasburg during second half action of an L-L Boys Basketball semifinal game at Hempfield High School Wednesday Feb. 12, 2020.

Cedar Crest’s big guys, 6-7 seniors Jason Eberhart and Ileri Ayo-Faleye, are usually the Falcons’ edge.

In Crest’s 48-43 defeat of Lampeter-Strasburg Wednesday, the edge came in the form of things big guys aren’t usually known for.

The Falcons trailed L-S 43-38 heading into the final minutes of a tight, tense Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff semifinal. But then there was Eberhart, double-teaming the ball 40 feet from the basket, getting a steal that turned into a basket.

A minute later Ayo-Faleye - who had four fouls at the time - stood in the path of Seth Beers, L-S’ superb guard, as Beers slashed to the hoop. He got the charging call.

The Pioneers (16-8) didn’t score in the final 4:11. Cedar Crest missed enough free throws to keep it tense to the end.

The Section One champion Falcons are 21-3, 9-0 in games decided by six points or less, and through to the L-L final for the fifth time in eight years, but also the first time since 2016.

“This is why you do those workouts, why you get in the gym,’’ Cedar Crest coach Tommy Smith said. “We’ve been so close the last two years. It’s so nice when the kids get rewarded.’’

Eberhart (game-high 19 points) and Ayo-Faleye (11) seemed to insist on it.

“Our seniors weren’t going to let us lose,’’ Smith said.

It was in doubt for a long time, though. The Falcons led 5-0 very early, but then struggled in half-court offense, against the Pioneers’ tough matchup zone, for a long while.

L-S, which has won four straight section titles, has a bunch of solid citizens orbiting Beers, who came in averaging 20.5 points. Beers had 14 by the middle of the second quarter, by which point Cedar Crest starters Grant Allwein and Ayo-Faleye were saddled with two fouls.

L-S led 26-23 at halftime, and had a lot of things going its way.

But Beers managed just one field goal the rest of the way.

On offense, the Falcons solved the puzzle by forcing the ball in to Eberhart, an old-school center who has become a relentless fighter around the rim.

“When we get him touches,’’ Smith said, “good things happen.’’

Eberhart has nine of his 18 in the third quarter. The Falcons led by three heading into the final stanza, but it didn’t really turn in their favor until Eberhart and Ayo-Faleye made their hustle plays at crunch time, and it wasn’t locked up until Ayo-Faleye made a pair of free throws with seven seconds left.

The Falcons were an unsightly five of 14 from the line in the fourth quarter. It’s been an issue.

“I think it’s a mental thing,’’ Smith said. “If they’re not practicing (free throws) when I get in the gym tomorrow …’’