Donegal pulls away from the Barons, 73-47
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Through their first seven games, it might have been easy to forget one key aspect about the Manheim Central boys basketball team.
The truth is, despite their 5-2 record during that stretch, the Barons are still a very inexperienced team.
From the start, coach Chris Sherwood has cautioned that his squad is going to have its ups and downs this winter.
And against Donegal on Tuesday night, the Barons experienced one of those downs.
Juniors Dylan Houseal and Martin Dietrich shared team-high scoring honors with 21 points apiece and the first-place Indians improved their unbeaten record to 9-0 overall (4-0 L-L) with a convincing 73-47 win in a Section Three game in Manheim.
Elsewhere, Lampeter-Strasburg (4-0 L-L) kept pace with the Indians atop the Section standings courtesy of a 60-31 win over ELCO, and Garden Spot (3-1 L-L) remained one game back with a 65-52 win over Norlebco.
"One of the bad things is you don’t want to have these downs in your own gym because it’s a morale thing," Sherwood said. "But it happened and when you have a lack of experience, that’s going to happen."
While the Barons return just one player (Jordan Mellinger) who had a half season of varsity experience last year, the Indians are both young and seasoned.
"Those guys were on our scouting report last year," Sherwood said, "and they’re going to be on it next year, which makes them even more dangerous. But we’re just trying to gain some experience … They’re a really good team. We watched them on tape. We knew they were good. We knew they were physical. That Houseal kid is tough. They’re just really good. They play as a team. They pass well, they find the open man well."
Things started off well enough for the Barons (2-2 L-L, 5-3 overall), as Mellinger, who led Central with a game-high 22 points, dropped in a layup with 6:23 left in the first to put the hosts in front.
But that would be the Manheim Central boys’ only lead of the night.
Houseal and Dietrich scored all of Donegal’s points in an 8-0 run, with a few costly MC turnovers along the way, and Jason Dietrich’s 3-pointer put the Indians up 11-4 after one. The Barons committed six of their 15 giveaways in the opening eight minutes.
"We wanted to switch things up a little bit defensively and we thought we were able to," Sherwood said. "But nothing was working for us on the offensive end and we had some costly turnovers early. And you’ve got to play a 32-minute game against a team like that."
Colby Gatchell (9 points) knocked down one of his three treys with 5:27 left in the second, keeping the Barons within seven, 15-8, but Donegal erupted on a 14-2 surge to pull away. Jason Dietrich, who finished with 12 points, hit a 3-pointer with 1:58 left in the half to make it 29-10 before Mellinger’s trey sent Manheim Central into the locker room trailing by a 29-13 margin.
The Indians took a 17-8 reounding edge into the half, and they ended the game with a 32-19 advantage in that department.
"They have guys who handle, they have guys who get to the basket, they have guys who rebound and score on second shots," Sherwood said. "I watched them against E-town and I didn’t think they played well. They won by 15. They will never go on a scoring drought for the simple reason that they get to the basket. And when you get to the basket, you’re going to go to the line. It stops runs. We don’t stop runs real well. That’s one thing we have to work on and we will work on it."
In the third, Donegal extended its lead to as many as 23 points, 40-17, on a triple by Martin Dietrich with 5:55 left in the quarter. Mellinger twice hit a ‘three’ to cut the deficit to 16, the second of those at 48-32 with 2:08 remaining in the third, but that’s as close as they would get the rest of the way.
The Indians outscored the Barons 21-15 in the final stanza, led by Houseal’s six points, to win going away.
"Coach (Ryan) Butt does a nice job," Sherwood said. "I think this is one of his first groups where it seems everyone is on the same page. And when you play a team, any team, where everybody seems to be on the same page, that’s what makes them good … I think they’re legit. I think they’re a legit team in Lancaster County, and as much as I love coach Achille at L-S, I think those two are going to have a battle to the end."
Although the Barons were playing for the first time in 12 days, Sherwood welcomed the break to get some practice time with his squad. They will now prepared to return to the floor this Friday when they travel to Northern Lebanon to continue their Section Three slate.
"I thought we really needed a week and a half to practice, and there were some things I even saw tonight that we had worked on over the break, so that made me happy," Sherwood said. "And the other thing is, I thought our guys played really hard. We can only hope that the younger guys see that and then that will start to (build) throughout our entire program." More BARONS, page B-6