Monday, November 20, 2017
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Pioneers Rally for Slim Win


Mired in foul trouble, Lampeter-Strasburg junior guard Jordan Swegar sat the bench for most of Monday’s District Three Class 5A boys basketball firstround playoff game against visiting Ephrata.

Didn’t matter. He made up for it by re-entering the game in the fourth quarter and coming up with the gamedeciding plays.

After host L-S came back from down 11 points in the second half only to fall behind by three, a Swegar free throw followed by a layup tied the game with 1:50 left.

Later, a Swegar offensive board —and the smarts to call a timeout as he was falling out of bounds — gave his team a shot down two with 39.6 left. Finally, on the ensuing inbounds play, Swegar’s assist to teammate Ben Sandberg for the game-tying layup and ensuing go-ahead free-throw with 36.8 left was the gamewinner, as No. 7 L-S escaped with a 38-37 victory over No. 10 Ephrata.

“He’s a smart kid,” first-year L-S coach Ed Berryman said of Swegar. “He’s a kid who doesn’t score a lot, but I need him on the floor because he’s smart and plays great defense.”

The victory secured a state playoff berth and advanced the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two champion Pioneers to Thursday’s district quarterfinal round, when they’ll travel to No. 2 Mechanicsburg (20-5).

“Can’t say it compares to winning the Section Two championship,” Berryman said when asked about his first district playoff win as a head coach. “But it’ll be up there for sure when I sit back and reflect. It’ll mean a lot.”

Especially considering the Pioneers (17-8) looked on the verge of losing Monday night. L-S 6-7 junior forward Ryan Smith (12 points) scored the game’s first seven points. But Ephrata, making the program’s first district playoff appearance since 2005, adjusted and took Smith away, holding him scoreless until the end of the third quarter, with the remainder of Smith’s six points coming at the line.

“They put him (Smith) on the low block,” Ephrata second-year coach Charlie Fisher said. “We just had to adjust ... we wanted to front him or stay from behind and then help out around the back.”

After the Mounts missed their first seven shots of the night, sophomore guard/forward Xavian Rodriguez (12 points) hit Ephrata’s first jumper at the 6:20 mark of the second quarter. The Mounts (16-9) then got to within one of L-S, 13-12, at the break and later used a 13-3 run in the third quarter to open up a 28-19 advantage, their largest of the night.

L-S got back into it by cleaning up lob passes with pump fakes and crisp passing to get the ball in a better position to the open man. And for a team that led the L-L in made 3s this season, the Pioneers showed good resolve by not relying on the outside shot and instead attacked the rim in the final quarter, where a 9-0 L-S run tied the score at 32-32 with 4:32 left.

Ephrata later had one last chance for a potential gamewinner, but Dilyn Becker’s 3-pointer came up short as time expired.

The Mounts now go to the consolation bracket, and will host No. 15 Hershey (11-12) on Thursday. They need back-to-back consolation wins to secure a PIAA playoff berth.