For a perimeter-heavy Warwick offense, the Warriors were still able to remain close despite struggling from deep in Friday’s Lancaster-Lebanon League boys basketball championship game against Cedar Crest inside a packed gymnasium at Manheim Township High School.

By the 6:00 mark of the third quarter, Warwick had made just four of 16 attempts from 3-point range. But the Warriors kept shooting. And their next three made shots came from beyond the arc to cut the deficit to two with 3:08 left.

Later, down three in the final 30 seconds, Warwick had two more opportunities to tie the game, but both 3-point attempts were off the mark, and Cedar Crest closed out a 45-41 victory in a game that felt like a defensive slugfest.

It gave the L-L Section One champion Falcons (22-3) their first league tourney crown since 2015, third league championship under 10th-year coach Tommy Smith, and fourth league crown overall, becoming just the fourth L-L program to have won at least four league titles.

“It’s amazing,” Cedar Crest senior Ileri Ayo-Faleye said. “After winning the section, I was hungry. I wanted this more than anything. And now looking at this, I want the district title now, too.”

Ayo-Faleye had a game-high 16 points and was the lone Falcons’ player to finish in double-figures scoring.

As it has all season, Cedar Crest again struggled from the free-throw line, making just 15 of 30 attempts. The Warwick defense was also able to keep things close by forcing 16 Cedar Crest turnovers.

The Falcons led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter, 24-15 at halftime and 39-29 at the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter, when Warwick sunk its next three 3-point attempts as part of a 10-2 spurt to cut the deficit to 41-38 with 2:26 remaining. A 3-pointer from Kai Cipalla (10 points) later cut the Warriors’ deficit to 44-41 with 29.9 seconds left.

“Scouting them before, I wasn’t surprised at all (they kept shooting),” Ayo-Faleye said. “They all shoot with confidence, which is a great thing at the high school level. Not too many teams can do that.”

The Falcons defense pushed out on the perimeter to pressure Warwick’s many shooters. And when the Section Two champion Warriors (19-5) drove the lane, they had to contend with Cedar Crest’s twin towers, Ayo-Faleye and Jason Eberhart, both 6-foot, 7-inch seniors. Warwick made just 5 of 17 attempts from the free-throw line.

“We like to get out and get after it and force drives into our bigs,” Smith said. “You have to have an extra sense of urgency with these guys because they have five guys that can shoot it. Usually a team has two or three shooters you have to keep an eye on, but all five guys for Warwick can shoot it.”

Warwick, competing in the league title tilt for the second year in a row, shot just 29.8 percent from the floor (14 of 47) and eight of 25 from beyond the arc (32 percent).

Warwick’s five losses have now come by a combined 16 points. Meanwhile, Cedar Crest improved to 10-0 in games decided by six points or less this season.

Also, the 86 combined points in Friday’s title tilt was the eighth-lowest total for an L-L championship game in the 48-year history of the tournament.

It wasn’t pretty. But Cedar Crest did just enough to get it done.

“That’s been our M-O all year,” Smith said. “We’ve been making plays down the stretch, enough of them to win, we’ll take them.”


Up next: The Warriors return home to host Governor Mifflin in Tuesday’s District 3-6A first-round game, while Cedar Crest will next play Friday in a District 3-6A quarterfinal against the winner of Central Dauphin and Manheim Township.