Hired as the new Lancaster Bible College men’s basketball coach in May 2019, Jon Mack only had a couple months left of the AAU season to begin recruiting the rising high school seniors in the Class of 2020.
He was also busy moving himself and his family - a wife and two young children - across the country from Oklahoma, where he was previously the coach at Southwestern Christian University, a top NAIA program.
“When we finally got our coaching staff together in July, the vocal point was we need to get impact players,” Mack said.
Those impact players turned out to be four from the Lancaster-Lebanon League in the form of Lampeter-Strasburg 6-foot senior guard Seth Beers (20.0 points per game, 71 3-pointers), Penn Manor 6-foot senior guard Ethan Hine (15.9 ppg, 51 3-pointers), Garden Spot 6-7 senior guard/forward Andrew Zenter (14.9 ppg, 23 3-pointers) and Elizabethtown all-time leading scorer Larry Locker, who sat out last season after decommitting from York College following high school.
“We were very intentional about getting homegrown talent,” Mack said.
Being relatively new to the area, Mack was figuring out which high school players to target initially. Fortunately for him, he had some suggestions from some of his players already at LBC.
Chargers’ leading scorer Jordan Shewbridge, a Garden Spot alum, suggested keeping an eye on his former Spartans’ teammate Zentner.
LBC starting senior forward Luke Beers and freshman forward Adam Stoltzfus, both Lampeter-Strasburg alums, recommended giving a look at Pioneers’ guard Seth Beers, whose dad also happens to be Pete Beers, LBC’s all-time winningest basketball coach who is now the school’s director of athletics.
Welcome Seth Beers, Seth is coming off a amazing season at Lampeter Strasburg where he led his team to a section championship. Seth is a very dynamic guard who has great court vision and can score at all three levels. Help us welcome Seth Beers to Charger Nation!#LBCUNCOMMON pic.twitter.com/Im2PWbiWbq— LBC Hoops (@LBC_Hoops) April 17, 2020
Mack was at a L-S game in mid-January watching Beers when he ran into Hine, who Mack had first heard about a few nights earlier after Hine dropped a career-high 45 points in an overtime loss to Exeter on Jan. 11.
That total was the single-game high for an L-L boys hoopster for the 2019-20 season until Beers topped it about a month later with a career-high 47 points in a double-OT win over Garden Spot, when Zentner also had a career-high 29 points.
Beers, Hine and Zentner all finished in the top-10 of scorers in the L-L for the 2019-20 campaign. Beers and Hine were also two of the top-seven 3-point shooters in the league. And Beers finished with 1,002 career points, becoming the seventh player to surpass 1,000 career points while in an L-S uniform. Beers was also one of three L-L players last season who twice scored 30 or more points in a game.
Locker, meanwhile, is the 6-foot-5 forward who was an all-state selection following his senior 2018-19 season in which led the Bears to their first state playoff berth in a decade, averaged 19 points per game, led the area in highlight-reel dunks and finished as E-town’s career scoring leader with 1,268 points.
“On my transit from Oklahoma to Lancaster, I got a call from Pete (Beers) that Larry Locker was just in the admissions office,” Mack recalled. “He had a change of heart. He didn’t want to go to York. He wanted to come to a Christian school. But he wanted to take a step away from basketball and find himself a little bit. He was still at most of our home games and some of our away games in the stands. We stayed on top of him, and he committed.”
The all-time leading scorer in his playing days at the University of Valley Forge in Chester County, Mack later served as the program’s head coach from 2000 through 2017, and the director of athletics from 2004 until 2017, when budget cuts resulted in Mack losing that full-time position. That resulted in him landing at Southwestern Christian University the following season, a season in which he steered the team to the NCCAA Division I national championship game in 2018. He already had 321 career wins by the time he arrived at LBC.
“I’m not a guy who is trying to bounce around,” Mack said. “I was uncomfortable leaving (Southwestern Christian) after the second year. ...but I wanted to be closer to home.”
“Just the culture around the basketball program that coach Mack has created is moving in the right direction,” Seth Beers said. “And I wanted to be involved with that and be around people who are like-minded and the faith aspect of it.”
Having won the Northeast Conference title and appearing in the NCAA Division III playoffs in 2018, the Chargers went 14-14 last season with a roster that already included L-L alums Luke Beers, Shewbridge, Stoltzfus and Tyler Hilton, a Hempfield alum.
No other men’s college basketball team has more than three L-L alums on its roster. With Luke Beers set to gradute, LBC will have seven L-L alums next season with the addition of the latest recruiting class, which apparently has a nickname.
“Coach Mack is calling it Lancaster Lockdown,” Beers said.
By the way, there's a chance more L-L talent could be added in the near future since L-S alum Isaac Beers, Seth's brother, sat out last season after playing his freshman year at LBC.
"I'm working on him," Seth Beers said.