Hoops Report: Cedar Crest boys coming of age

·5 min read

The latest update on Lebanon County hoops, as winter puts us in its annual death grip...Ah, at least there's basketball to keep us warm.

There's something to be said for being patient, waiting your turn and respecting your elders.

But there's also much to be said for not wanting to wait, to step up and take what is yours as soon as you feel you're ready, age be damned.

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MORE: Photos - Cedar Crest boys rally past rival Lebanon

That sort of seems to be where a young and rapidly improving Cedar Crest boys basketball team is right now.

Leo Tirado (22) goes up for a lay-up as Marquis Ferreira (23) fouls him. Cedar Crest came back and was able to secure a victory over cross town rival Lebanon 55-48 in the Cage.
Leo Tirado (22) goes up for a lay-up as Marquis Ferreira (23) fouls him. Cedar Crest came back and was able to secure a victory over cross town rival Lebanon 55-48 in the Cage.

After an up-and-down 4-6 start to the season, the Falcons have now won five straight to take over sole possession of first place in L-L Section 1.

Among those five straight wins was a gut-check victory against defending league champ Lebanon by a 55-48 decision Saturday night at the Falcon Cage.That victory avenged an earlier overtime loss to Lebanon in Cedar Crest's holiday tournament, and just may have been the game in which the Falcons' sophomore-dominated group officially turned the corner.

Not that they weren't carrying their share of the load and then some. Led by sophomore forward Fernando Marquez's 11.2 points per game, four of the Falcons' top five scorers are 10th graders, with Aiden Schomp (9.9 ppg), Leo Tirado (7.4 ppg) and Owen Chernich (5.1 ppg) all joining in the fun. Only senior Jake Wolfe, averaging 6.1 per contest, breaks up the sophomore dominance on the scoring list.

Which means Cedar Crest's future may be even brighter than its present, which, at the moment is saying quite a bit. And it seems, head coach Tom Smith may have had a crystal ball with him when he spoke about this group's potential, coming off a rather dismal 3-11 2020-2021 season.

"I am super excited about this team," Smith said in the preseason. "This group is very young and relatively inexperienced, but they are very hungry to live up to the expectations that have been set in the years prior."

Falcons Head Coach Tommy Smith yells out instructions to his team. Cedar Crest came back and was able to secure a victory over cross town rival Lebanon 55-48 in the Cage Saturday night.
Falcons Head Coach Tommy Smith yells out instructions to his team. Cedar Crest came back and was able to secure a victory over cross town rival Lebanon 55-48 in the Cage Saturday night.

The Falcons last wore the Section 1 crown in 2020. Can they do it this year? Not sure, but it will be fun to find out. By the way, the Hempfield game is Jan. 28 in Landisville. Circle that date and stay tuned.

Lebanon boys, girls hit rough patch

After each team enjoyed flying starts and took early control of the Section 2 title races, the Lebanon boys and girls are each dealing with a bit of adversity for the first time this season in the form of back-to-back Section 1 crossover losses to Cedar Crest and Hempfield.

The good news is those defeats weren't entirely unexpected and both have plenty of time to right their ships and get back on a winning course again. Lebanon boys are just percentage points behind Warwick, a team it's already beaten, for the section lead and the Lebanon girls, were still able to hold onto the top spot in Section Two despite the consecutive setbacks.

The girls' team losses were at least partially attributable to Cedar Crest and Hempfield keeping Lebanon freshman phenom Kailah Correa under control by "holding" her to 20 and 16 points, respectively.

But there's absolutely no reason to fear Correa's production will plummet. Those two games came against two of the league's better defensive teams who obviously executed their game plans superbly. And, well, in the midst of all this, Correa received her first Division 1 college offer, from Illinois. Something tells me there is a lot more where that came from.

To the victor goes the spoils

Admittedly, some of the county's less successful teams tend to not be mentioned as much in the weekly report, but this week we're going to change that.

First of all, a tip of the cap to the Annville-Cleona girls for knocking off previously unbeaten Lancaster Country Day 35-25. Just 4-7 for the season, a very young A-C team is nonetheless making strides under new head coach Wee Sanchez and the LCD win is proof of that.

Northern Lebanon girls, meanwhile, deserve much credit for winning 4 of its last 6 since a dismal 1-7 start. Senior Ashlyn Messinger (16.8) and freshman Olivia Shutter (10.6 ppg) lead the way for the Vikings, now a more respectable 5-9.

On the boys' side, there's no question it's been a struggle for Annville-Cleona, as its 2-10 record attests. But one of those two wins came last Monday on the road against East Pennsboro, by a 42-37 score. Elisha Slabach scored 13 points to lead the winner, and Isaac Good chipped in with 11 for the winners.

Raiders, Flames look to shoot down cancer

A reminder that the Elco girls will be hosting Lampeter-Strasburg Friday in its annual Gold Rush game to aid the fight against cancer.

This year the fight hits a little close to home for the Raiders, who will be honoring 2019 Elco grad Abbie Keath and her own fight against the dreaded disease. T-shirts were sold in Keath's honor leading up to the game and proceeds will go toward helping her fight.

Also on Friday night, the New Covenant boys-girls doubleheader vs. Christian School of York will serve as the school's 7th annual Box Out Cancer Game.

"We donate proceeds from shirt sales, concessions, and admission, as well as donations from that night's games to cancer research," said New Covenant AD Justyn Shepler. "However, this year's proceeds will be donated to Katie Swisher, the wife of former science teacher Todd Swisher, and Flames alum Beckey Swisher. Katie is fighting a rare and aggressive form of cancer and needs to raise funds for specialized treatment."

Two fundraisers that need your support if you're able. Please consider helping them out while at the same time enjoying a night of hoops action.

This article originally appeared on Lebanon Daily News: Hoops Report: Cedar Crest boys coming of age

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