Barons suffer first loss
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
It was, as Manheim Central boys coach Chris Sherwood noted, a night when the stars just might have been aligned.
Prior to Monday’s game at Section Four contender Lancaster Catholic, the Barons still hadn’t lost a game.
But they were playing a Crusaders’ team had just suffered a 23-point loss to Donegal last Friday night.
So not only were the Catholic boys looking to get back in the win column, but they also had the advantage of being on their own floor for their 2012-13 home opener.
Sure enough, the Crusaders had the Barons on their heels early and Omar Lopez drained a career-high 27 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Catholic knocked Central from the unbeaten ranks with a 58-38 victory in a Section Three-Four crossover in Lancaster.
"We made some mistakes, there is no mistaking that," Sherwood said. "We made some mistakes and we’re going to correct those mistakes. But we’re not going to put so much stock into losing to a physical Lancaster Catholic team on their floor when they’re coming off a loss. I thought the stars were aligned (Monday) night … Hey listen, there’s going to be bumps in the road. I’m still really happy with where our guys are at."
With good reason.
Despite the loss, the Barons are still 5-1 overall (1-1 L-L) and just one game off the pace behind Section co-leaders Donegal (2-0, 4-0) and Lampeter Strasburg (2-0, 4-1).
The Crusaders, meanwhile, improved to 4-2 overall (1-1 L-L) and remained one game back of Section Four leader Lancaster Mennonite (2-0 L-L), whose 75-59 conquest of Northern Lebanon raised their record to 4-1 overall.
Lopez was certainly a key factor in helping Catholic take a quick 16-3 lead in the opening stanza. With the Barons shooting just 1-of-10 from the floor in the first — and just 28 percent for the game (13-of-47) — the Crusaders still held an 18-6 edge after one.
"Omar did a lot of things right," Sherwood said. "He shot the ball really well, I thought he defended and he’s a little quicker than I even thought that he was. And he even had a little more range than I thought that he had. I was really impressed with him. Really."
But Central didn’t go away, and they outscored the hosts 13-11 in the second to remain within striking distance at the half, trailing 29-19. Evan Stauffer paced the Central boys with 16 points.
"I think a lot of credit has to go to Catholic," Sherwood said. "However, we shot 13-for-47 from the floor, and you’re going to have those nights. I’m not down on my guys."
Sherwood, in fact, looked at things from a positive perspective, noting that their ability to get away 47 shots was an indication that they kept their turnovers to a minimum.
"We’re on the road at Catholic and they’re a pretty physical defensive team," Sherwood remarked. "They did a really nice job. They deserve a lot of credit. They outplayed us. But our guys are fighters and I thought our guys fought really hard. They fell asleep in the first quarter, and they hadn’t played a team that was as physical as Catholic. So it took some to get adjusted to it."
Following the intermission, the Barons were hoping to build off the momentum that they had created in the second quarter. But the Crusaders, behind Lopez, opened up a 16-point after three and then outscored Central 13-9 in the fourth to put it away.
"It was 29-19 at half, we had settled in," Sherwood said, "and I really thought in the second half we were going to make a run. And the shots just didn’t fall."
Last Friday night, the Barons got balanced scoring, led by Matt Walsh’s 12 points, and came away with a 47-33 win over Columbia in a Section Three-Four crossover in Manheim.
Stauffer and Colby Gatchell added nine and eight points, respectively, for the winners, who led 14-4 after one and never trailed.
In other action last Wednesday, Dec. 12, Walsh had a monster night with five triples and a game-high 26 points, leading the Barons to a hard-fought 56-53 non-league win over Conestoga Valley in Witmer. More BARONS, page B-3