Led by seven straight points from tournament MVP Logan Horn to start the game, Cedar Crest bolted to a 17-3 first quarter lead on the way to a 50-38 triumph over the Lebanon Cedars in the championship game of the Cedar Crest Holiday Tournament.
Now 8-2 heading into 2018, the Falcons also started quickly in the third quarter after Lebanon (3-6) rallied to within 27-19 at the half, getting seven straight points from sophomore big man Jason Eberhart to permanently push the lead to double digits.
“I said to the guys, ‘Let’s not wait around to get started,'” said Cedar Crest coach Tom Smith. “And I think we got seven quick ones. They closed the gap at the end of the first half, but we always talk at halftime that the first three minutes of the second half are very crucial, whether you’re winning or down because it’s gonna separate one way or the other. And I think we stretched the lead to 17 (early in the third) and it stayed double digits the rest of the second half.”
Meanwhile, Lebanon, led by 11 points from Felix Kortright, could not have had a worse start to each half. Particularly the first, in which it went scoreless over the final 5:47, and saw Horn (16 points) bury a three as time expired.
“I was proud of their effort, the way they fought back after just about as disastrous a first quarter of basketball as you can imagine,” Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said. “We didn’t knock down shots, and they scored on probably their first six or seven possessions. It is what it is. They just built a lead early and held onto it. They’re an experienced squad that knows how to play with a lead and they did that.”
Lebanon did indeed make a move in the second quarter, outscoring Crest 16-10 behind a closing 7-0 run capped by a Carlos Rivera 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go before intermission.
But any hopes Lebanon had of staying in the game were dashed by Eberhart’s quick burst to start the third and lockdown defense by the Falcons that kept the Cedars from finding many open shots.
“I think we’re playing good basketball right now,” Smith said. “I think we clamped down on defense today and did a very good job. Shots didn’t fall for us like they had been, but I still think we’re taking the right shots, which is important. And they’re gonna fall.”
Meanwhile, for Lebanon, which fell to Cedar Crest 49-46 in its tip-off tourney three weeks ago, the struggle to find some chemistry and its best form continues, although not from lack of effort.
Cedar Crest 50, Lebanon 38
Beckley 1 0-0 2, L. Rivera 0 0-0 0, Porter 0 0-0 0, C. Rivera 1 0-0 3, Scott 2 5-6 9, Aquino-Rios 3 2-4 10, Kauffman 0 3-3 3, Apple 0 0-0 0, Kortright 4 0-0 11. Totals: 11 10-13 38.
Cedar Crest (50)
Thomson 3 2-4 8, Miller 2 2-2 7, Horn 7 0-1 16, Loehr 0 0-0 0, Dunlop 1 1-2 3, Showers 1 0-0 2, Laney 1 2-2 5, Eberhart 4 1-2 9. Totals: 19 8-13 50.
Lebanon 3 16 6 13 – 38
Cedar Crest 17 10 15 8 – 50
3-point field goals: L – Kortright 3, Aquino-Rios 2, CC – Horn 2, Laney, Miller
Here are the winners of local holiday basketball tournaments:
Cedar Crest (Cedar Crest Holiday tournament), Columbia (Columbia), Ephrata (Ephrata), Hempfield (Hempfield), Lancaster Mennonite (Mechanicsburg), Lampeter-Strasburg (Middletown), Penn Manor (Northern Lebanon), Lancaster Catholic (Warwick), Conestoga Valley (Wyomissing).
And here are the runner-ups:
Lebanon (Cedar Crest), Elizabethtown (E-town), Elco (Ephrata), Solanco (Gettysburg), Northern Lebanon (Northern Lebanon).