Not surprisingly, Larry Bellew shared the same feeling all of his fellow coaches had heading into this opening weekend.
He didn’t know what he was going to see from his Penn Manor Comets when they tipped off the pandemic-delayed boys basketball season.
“Ten practices (the last, of which came late Friday night), no scrimmages, I had no idea what to expect,” Bellew said.
When Penn Manor opened the game missing its first 10 shots, the level of concern likely increased. The Comets, however, clawed back and pulled out a 48-46 nonleague win over Solanco on Saturday afternoon in Millersville.
“We had a slow start, couldn’t make a shot and can’t figure out one kid’s left-handed,” Bellew said. “All the stuff you normally figure out in scrimmages.”
That left-hander was Tyler Burger, who scored the game’s first six points as the Golden Mules sprinted out to an 8-0 lead.
Penn Manor closed the opening quarter with 10 unanswered points, including five from Brayde Erb.
The Comet lead grew to 12-8 when Erb hit a pair of free throws to open the second quarter, which featured three lead changes and five ties before ending 24-24 at the half.
Down 31-30 in third, the Comets scored six straight to take their largest lead of the game, 36-31, with 2:03 left in the quarter.
“I was happy to see us kind of dig in, we made a little run and throughout the game, we did just enough,” said Bellew. “We’ll obviously have to shoot the ball a million times better than we did today.”
The final quarter followed a similar script as the first three, going back-and-forth and neither team leading by more than three points. Penn Manor was up 46-43 with 1:59 to play before Burger drained a 3-pointer to tie it with 51 seconds to go.
Burger finished with a game-high 17 points, while Zed Baker added 13 for the Mules.
Following a timeout, the Comets got the eventual game-winning bucket from Kamrin Carroll with 26 seconds left.
“The turnover we had about 20 seconds before was the reason we didn’t hold it for the last shot,” said Bellew. “It was probably the best shot we could have taken rather than try to hold for one at the end and hope for a good one.”
Carroll paced the Comets with 12 points, while Erb and Jack Shipley each had 11.
“It was so important for these guys (to win), considering the nine months that we’ve all been through,” Bellew said. “Anything positive in their lives at this point is something to build on. Let’s be frank, just playing is a positive.”