HARRISBURG -- Nine days had passed since Lancaster Country Day had played a game.
The school is also on spring break this week, meaning no classes and likely being the probable cause of barely any LCD students traveling to Friday’s PIAA Class 1A first-round playoff game at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg. The pre-game warm-up music at CD East didn’t exactly inspire confidence, either, considering it included Manfred Mann’s 1964 song, ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy.’
Add it all up and it’s no wonder the Cougars stumbled out of the gate.
“That definitely contributed to the slow start,” Lancaster Country Day senior guard Andrew Williams said afterward.
After falling behind by 10 points by the end of the first quarter, District 3-1A champion Lancaster Country Day found its footing, outscored Sullivan County 14-0 in the second quarter and pulled away in the second half for a 55-35 victory.
A year ago, LCD won a state playoff game for the first time in program history. Now, the Cougars (20-4) are going back to the second round of states for the second year in a row.
“It means everything,” Williams said. “And a 20-win season...at one point we were 2-2 and 10-4, now we’re on a 10-game win-streak. ...We’re going to keep on going.”
Williams finished with a game-high 15 points, and now sits at 1,188 career points. But he certainly didn’t pull of Friday’s victory by himself. LCD outrebounded Sullivan County, 33-14, mostly thanks to the efforts of 6-2 senior forward Bradley Fry (10 points, 12 rebounds), 6-4 senior guard/forward Luke Walling (6 points, 7 rebounds) and 6-2 sophomore guard Lance Lennon (9 points, 6 rebounds). Senior guard Will Lisk also chipped in 13 points and 4 rebounds.
“The second half we eliminated their second-chance shots,” said first-year LCD coach Jon Shultz, who picked up his first career state playoff win. “We saw No. 22 (6-5 junior forward Jesse Williams) and No. 40 (6-5 senior center) get boards and they put them (second-chance shots) in. We really emphasized to our big guys we got to…use our bodies to back them out of the paint so they can’t get any kind of second-chance opportunities.”
Chatting before the game, Sullivan County 14th-year head coach Glenn Vaughan noted how his squad was not a 3-point shooting team, and was shooting 27-percent from the beyond arc for the season. Then District Four fourth-seed Sullivan County (13-13) went out and drilled 3 treys and led 18-8 at the end of the opening period, resulting in Shultz calling off the Cougars’ defensive press.
LCD then outscored Sullivan County 14-0 in the second quarter to take a 22-18 halftime lead and then scored the first seven points of the third quarter to open up its first double-digit lead, 29-18. The Cougars led 41-24 going into the fourth quarter. And they did a nice job of continuing to attack despite the Sullivan County defense packing inside in an effort to take away the paint.
“In the first quarter we were really slow and stagnant,” Williams said. “Then in the second quarter we started moving the ball more, cutting to make that defense shift and open up at the same time.”
By the way, the LCD starters didn’t get much of a breather since freshman guard and sixth-man John Stewart didn’t play as a result of forgetting his jersey back at the school. It was the second time that happened to Stewart this season.
“He’s a nut,” Williams said. “We didn’t have any guards coming off the bench. The first time he (Stewart) did it was my 1,000-point game. He forgot his jersey. So he wasn’t even on the court for that.”
Shultz said he believes this might be the first time in program history a LCD team has won 20 games in a season.
“We’re looking into that,” Shultz said. “ We’re trying to set some goals along the way this year. We wanted to be the best in the league in points allowed per game. We were there. That district championship was always on our mind. We wanted to get to 20 wins. Now that we did that we got to come up with something for Tuesday.”
How about this, coach: No LCD team has ever made it past the second round of states. Up next, LCD faces District One runner-up Faith Christian on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.