Penn Manor vs McCaskey-LL Boys Basketball

Penn Manor's Kevin Roldan (3) makes the winning lay up against McCaskey with 3 seconds left in the second half of an LL section one boys basketball game at Penn Manor High School Friday Jan. 25, 2019.

Kevin Roldan’s driving basket with 4.2 seconds left capped a furious rally and gave Penn Manor a 57-55 boys basketball win over McCaskey on Friday in Millersville.

It also kept the Comets’ slim hopes for the postseason alive, a fact coach Larry Bellew would prefer to soft-pedal.

“When I was (an assistant at Hempfield), the playoffs were a given,” Bellew said afterward. “Here, you never even hear the word after the preseason. I’ve been afraid to lay that burden on them.”

It’s still far from a given. The Comets, 4-7 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League and 10-8 overall, came into Friday’s game 16th in the power rankings in District Three Class 6A.

Sixteen make it. And Penn Manor must still face 17-2 Cedar Crest, Manheim Township, West York and Octorara.

“Just now, in the postgame, is the first time I brought it up,” Bellew said. “I told them we’re still in it.”

The Comets trailed almost the entire way Friday. McCaskey’s quickness, ability to get the the rim and senior guard Brian McKenzie’s steady hand on the tiller (17 points) looked like it would be more than enough.

A couple things seemed to turn it: Penn Manor showed some full-court zone pressure after scores that disoriented the Tornado just enough. And Bellew yanked his point guard, Roldan, from the game, briefly and temporarily, for a chat after three straight bad possessions early in the fourth quarter.

There’s a bit of backstory: Roldan attended the School District of Lancaster through eighth grade.

“This game is so huge to him,” Bellew said. “He wanted it so bad. I asked him if he plays for Penn Manor or for Kevin. He told me he was going to play for us.”

He ran the show seamlessly after that.

The Comets trailed 43-37 as Bellew called time with 2:37 left. From there on McCaskey got no field goals and only two points out of a possible four at the foul line. Penn Manor got a clutch 3-pointer from Ethan Hine (13 points), then a tough putback by Ty Erisman (15), then a pure, line-drive 3-pointer from Erisman with 36.6 seconds left.

The Comets ran enough offense to spread McCaskey out, Rolden saw a lane to the rim and took it.

A McCaskey 18-footer was way short at the buzzer.

Nine of the Comets’ 20 field goals were 3-pointers, by no means an unusual number for a team that essentially plays with five guards.

The Tornado, at 8-9, is still alive for the 6A districts. It ranked 13th before Friday and still has Ephrata, Central Dauphin East, Cedar Crest, Exeter and Hempfield on the schedule.