Barons start season 2-0

By on December 14, 2016
Manheim Central junior guard Connor Hostetter cuts through the lane past Cedar Crest defender Cole Laney for two of his 19 points in the Barons’ win Monday night. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Manheim Central junior guard Connor Hostetter cuts through the lane past Cedar Crest defender Cole Laney for two of his 19 points in the Barons’ win Monday night. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Monday’s game couldn’t have arrived any sooner for the Manheim Central boys basketball team.

While other squads around the Lancaster-Lebanon League opened their season last weekend, the Barons found themselves sitting idle.

Or, at least, not in uniform.

“We were itching to play,” MC skipper Chris Sherwood said. “They sat through the weekend, (but) we were all over the place scouting. You could go into any gym in the area and find one of our players. And I thought that was really cool. That’s just a group that’s together and wants to win.”

Win is just what they did when they finally opened their 2016-17 campaign, as senior Taylor Funk scored 22 points to pace three Manheim Central players in double figures, leading the Barons to a physical 63-45 non-league decision over Cedar Crest in Cornwall. Connor Hostetter and Roman Wagner added 19 and 10 points, respectively.

“They followed a game plan to a T,” said Sherwood, whose squad improved to 2-0 on Tuesday night with a 76-69 victory over ELCO in Myerstown. “We did a lot of things really well tonight. I’ll give you the cliché that it’s just one win, but we wanted this win just to make sure that we are who we thought we were. And we are. We’re physical, we can handle the ball, we can rebound and we can defend.”

That defense was never more evident than on the Falcons’ opening possession of the second quarter. Trailing 16-8 and forced to work the perimeter against MC’s zone D, the Falcons — accustomed to pushing the ball and getting to the basket — took more than a minute off the clock before settling for an outside shot by Logan Horn. Baron senior Kody Kegarise grabbed the rebound, then Wagner scored on a putback at the other end, giving the Central boys their first double-digit lead, 18-8.

“That was, I thought, defending them into situations that they weren’t comfortable with,” Sherwood recalled. “That wasn’t (Cedar Crest) being patient. That’s not their style. That was a great defensive exhibition.”

Not long afterward, Funk took a hard foul from Crest’s Tate Seyfert. Although he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Barons’ 6-foot-9 forward/center proceeded to drain three straight treys, leading Manheim Central on a quarter-ending 17-4 run to make it 37-17 at the break.

“I think (Taylor)’s the kind of guy, you can let a sleeping dog lie a little bit, but with what he’s doing now, he finds another gear,” Sherwood said. “He wanted the ball. I’ve been seeing him for the last eight, nine months since the end of last season, but for people who saw him tonight, I think there were aspects of him that looked different. I thought he was a little more aggressive inside, a little more physical and we want teams to be punished if they want to put a smaller guy on him.”

Overall, MC buried five of its six treys in that burst. After Horn and Blake Thomson went 4-of-4 at the foul line, cutting Crest’s deficit to 32-17, Hostetter connected from beyond the arc, then scored inside to give the Barons their 20-point advantage going to the locker room.

“We have young guys — and this isn’t a knock on Connor … young guys tend to wait for the game too much, they kinda don’t make plays, etc. He made plays tonight,” Sherwood said. “We’ve been stressing to him, like, ‘You’re playing to score.’ He was catching and ripping. He was moving without the ball like I hadn’t seen him move without the ball. He wanted the basketball. We were thrilled with his effort. He just played fantastic.”

As did Wagner, who came off the bench to score nine of his 10 points in the opening half, along with contributing to MC’s 36-26 edge on the boards.

“Roman played awesome. Roman was great,” Sherwood said. “Roman’s a starter, as far as I’m concerned, and he came in off the bench because we have guys who should start. And he didn’t pout, and then he comes in and he gives us an incredible spark. I’m just happy.”

Hostetter’s deuce with 3:33 left in the third gave MC it’s biggest lead, 47-21. But seven third-quarter turnovers by the Barons allowed Crest to gain some momentum, as the Falcons finished the stanza on a 14-4 run, capped by Jayden Melendez’s transition bucket which cut their deficit to 51-35 heading to the fourth. No one scored in double figures for the Cedar Crest boys, who were led by Melendez and Thomson with eight points apiece.

“One of the things we said was the only way they were going to get back in the game is if we turn the ball over,” Sherwood remarked. “And we got sloppy and we got careless and we had a teaching moment go on out there too.”

Crest, though, never threatened in the fourth. Funk’s breakaway slam with 4:24 left restored MC’s advantage to 57-37, and the Barons went on seal their 18-point victory.

“Our guys were ready to play,” Sherwood said. “They made plays tonight and I’m just really happy for them.”

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One Comment

  1. Rick

    December 15, 2016 at 11:04 am

    nobody covers the Barons like you do Bruce. Great job.

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