Indians oust the Barons District Boys Basketball
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
There’s an old saying in sports that you can’t teach speed.
On Tuesday night, in a District Three Triple-A first-round boys basketball playoff game, top-seeded Susquehanna Township had more than enough to go around when they hosted 16th-seeded Manheim Central.
For the Barons, who were untested by that kind of weaponry this season, there was little margin for error, and they suffered a season-ending 74-36 loss in Harrisburg.
"Obviously we weren’t used to the speed of that game," Barons’ coach Chris Sherwood remarked. "But I think that was the only issue. Even the size factor, to me, was less of an issue than the speed was. You can’t mimic that speed in practice and if you haven’t seen that speed all year, which we haven’t, that’s tough to overcome."
Evan Stauffer, one of six seniors on Manheim Central’s squad this year, led the Barons with 12 points in the losing cause. The loss dropped the Central boys’ final record to 15-9, but Sherwood couldn’t say enough about how pleased he was with his players.
"I’m proud as heck of my guys and I’m just so proud of the effort," he said. "The guys came ready to play tonight because driving to Susquehanna is not an easy task, it’s not a team we’re used to seeing, and our guys never batted an eye and that’s why the guys in this locker room are so stinkin’ special.
"It’s a great experience for our guys, especially for our younger guys, but it’s a good experience for our older guys too to go out on that note," he continued. "Heck, 15 wins, I’d have jumped all over this (in pre-season)."
The Indians’ Savalas Pope finished with 12 points to lead his team, sharing game-high honors with Stauffer. Overall, Susquehanna Township (23-2), which now advances to face 9th-seeded Northeastern (17-7) in Friday’s quarter-finals, had nine players with six points or more in the contest. Junior Gabriel Mack finished with eight points.
With the Indians coming out in a press defense, they jumped to a 21-10 lead after one and pushed it to 42-18 at the break. To the Barons’ credit, they battled tough against their opponent’s press and broke it a few times, but couldn’t quite capitalize enough.
"We had a couple 3-on-2’s when we broke the press and just didn’t finish around the basket," Sherwood said. "And then what does that lead to? Well, we have three guys on that offensive end, they have two, so when they leak out, now they have a 3-on-2 and they’re finishing. So it was those little things in the game, and again, that all comes back to the speed of the game. But at no point did our guys stop playing. They went hard, they attempted to rebound the ball every possession. I thought our guys played really, really hard. But heck, I’m really not surprised by that. Our guys have played hard all year."
That, of course, includes their group of seniors, consisting of Jacoby Brumbach, Mark Cassel, Colby Gatchell, Austin Hatch, Stauffer and Zach Schnitzler. Sherwood credited those players with helping to build a foundation for the program.
"There’s no reason why, if we don’t try to continue to get better in the off-season and work hard in the off-season, which we’re going to do, that we can’t build off of this and the seniors will be dearly missed," he said. "But we have a lot of young guys too who who are hungry and these young guys were mixed in and got varsity minutes. So we’re happy about the future as well."
Last Friday, Central sophomore Matt Walsh led all scorers with 25 points and the Barons advanced with a 60-48 victory over 17th-seeded Wyomissing in a District Three Triple-A play-in game in Manheim. Stauffer also scored in double figures with 18 points for the winners.
Sparked by an early 10-2 run, the Barons jumped to a 12-10 lead after one. The Spartans, though, hung around and Gerald Burns scored a team-high 14 points to help Wyomissing (17-8) pull into a 27-27 stalemate midway through the third.
But Manheim Central answered with a 14-0 run and outscored the Spartans 19-18 in the fourth to seal it. Walsh was a perfect 4-for-4 at the foul line to lead the Barons, who finished 11-of-18 at the stripe overall. More BARONS, page B-3