Monday, January 22, 2018
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Pioneers Turn Away Mounts

Lampeter-Strasburg junior forward Ryan Smith opened Friday’s third quarter with a 3-pointer to push the host Pioneers’ lead to 18 points. Visiting Ephrata promptly committed its second straight turnover. And the boys basketball game appeared all but over.

The Mounts had other plans.

Second-year coach Charlie Fisher instructed his guys to go full-court press defensively. It resulted in 11 third-quarter turnovers by L-S and cut Ephrata’s deficit to six points heading into the final frame, where junior Dilyn Becker tied it with 26.7 seconds left on a pair of free throws.

Later down two with 14.5 seconds left and the ball, Becker’s potential game-winning 3-pointer instead hit the back of the rim. The rebound eventually landed in the hands of teammate Zach McGillan, but his attempt at a game-tying jumper also hit the back of the iron, allowing the Pioneers to escape with a 54-52 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two victory.

With Garden Spot having beaten Manheim Central on Friday, 61-44, there’s now a three-way tie atop the Section Two standings between Ephrata (10-3 L-L, 15-6 overall), L-S (10-3, 14-7) and Manheim Central (10-3, 18-3).

Hot first half from Pioneers: Ephrata came into Friday’s game with the top defense in the league. But Fisher admitted his club came out flat, allowing L-S to take a 3318 advantage into the break.

“We went into halftime. There was no yelling. There was no screaming,” Fisher said. “We just talked about this being a big game and we didn’t show up to play in the first half. We have 16 more minutes of basketball.”

Turnaround: Down 37-21 at the 5:00 mark of the third quarter, Ephrata closed the period on a 10-0 run to go into the fourth quarter down 37-31. L-S regained its senses in the next few minutes by pushing its lead to 48-38 with four minutes left on a layup from Smith (15 points).

Sandberg steps up: The game-tying freethrows from Becker (14 points) completed a 14-4 Ephrata run with 26.7 seconds left. Going for a steal at midcourt, Ephrata senior guard Micah Krauter (12 points) was whistled for a foul, sending L-S senior Ben Sandberg (15 points) to the line with 14.5 seconds left and the game tied.

It was quite the moment for Sandberg. The second-leading scorer on last year’s historic L-S playoff team, Sandberg missed time at the beginning of this season and as a result had to earn his playing time back off the bench. The role suited him so well that Sandberg eventually told first-year head coach Ed Berryman he’s more comfortable in the sixth-man role, where he has flourished as the Pioneers’ second leading scorer. He ended up hitting those game winning free-throws to beat Ephrata.

“It means a lot,” Berryman said. “He’s really just turned it around.”

After winning its last seven games, L-S now has a shot at playing for back-to-back section crowns. Tuesday’s league finales feature Manheim Central traveling to Ephrata and L-S heading to Cocalico (6-7, 6-15). Should L-S finish tied for first with Ephrata or Manheim Central, there would be a game to decide the L-L Section Two crown on Thursday or Friday at a neutral site.