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Walsh gets angry in Barons’ 59-58 win
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Manheim Central boys basketball coach Chris Sherwood saw another side of star junior Matt Walsh on Friday night.
And that was a good thing.
"Listen, when Walsh plays like that … I just turned around and looked at my assistants a couple of times and said, ‘Who is that guy?,’" Sherwood recalled. "We have really nice guys around here. (Matt) played with some anger and that’s what we want to do. If you don’t play with anger, you should be playing at the YMCA. Matt Walsh was awesome tonight, as was (Northern Lebanon’s) Sam Light. What a great battle between those two guys."
Walsh used that anger to score a team-high 22 points, and the Barons needed all of that to knock off Light’s Vikings 59-58 in a Section Three thriller in Manheim.
Light, a senior guard, led all scorers with 26 points and was a key cog in the Northern Lebanon going up by as many as eight, 40-32, in the third quarter.
But despite the Manheim Central boys shooting 10-of-22 from the foul line, including 3-for-9 in the fourth quarter, they found a way to get it done down the stretch.
With that, the Barons (6-2 overall, 3-1 L-L) completed a perfect 3-0 week, remaining tied with Lampeter-Strasburg (6-1, 3-1) atop the league standings. The Vikings, who are better than their 1-3 Section record indicates, are tied for fourth in the standings.
"It’s a great Northern Lebanon team, there’s no two ways about it," Sherwood said. "We were terrified. We had a tough week – Lancaster Catholic, then you have to go to Annville which is a sandwich game and they played really hard down there, and then we had Northern Lebanon. To walk out 3-0, my gosh … Merry Christmas."
Walsh, Tanner Brenize and Taylor Funk all connected from beyond the arc during a first quarter in which the Barons shot 6-of-10 from the field, as they twice led by as much as seven, 12-5 and 16-9.
But Light got going in the second quarter when Northern Lebanon, playing a press defense, forced seven MC turnovers. The Vikings’ star scored 13 points in that quarter, many of those on fastbreak layups, and his three-point play with 1:31 left in the half gave Northern Lebanon its first lead, 29-26. Funk, who finished with nine points, answered with a ‘three,’ and the score was tied 29-all going to the locker room.
"Light in the open court is ridiculous," Sherwood said. "Our thoughts were, when Light catches, we’re going to give him a step because he’s scoring going to the bucket. And when Isaac Ray catches, we want to make him dribble because he wants set jump shots. You need players to execute game plans and they did tonight."
Austin Zechman chipped in with 11 for the Vikings, but the Barons held Ray to just five points on just 1-of-4 shooting.
Northern Lebanon, though, finished 16-of-19 from the foul line, and when Ray sank two with 5:24 left in the third, the Vikings went up 37-32. Richard Iwuagwu then knocked down a triple to cap a 7-0 by Northern Lebanon, making it 40-32 with 4:13 on the clock.
They were still up 44-38 following a drive by Light, but Dan Wiederrecht, who had 12 points for the Barons, scored on a lay-in and then Walsh capitalized on a Vikings turnover to score on a fastbreak layup, cutting Central’s deficit to 44-42 going to the fourth.
Still trailing 48-45 early in the final stanza, Wiederrecht’s triple sent the Barons on a 9-2 spurt, putting them in front 54-50 following a reverse layup by Walsh with 3:50 remaining.
After Walsh missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Funk made the second of two freebies with 2:42 to go, and it was 55-52.
"Holy Cow, we did (struggle at the foul line)," Sherwood said. "I don’t foresee that to be a problem. I actually said to my assistant, ‘Boy, we should be up more than we are.’ It happens on some given nights and it just happened that way tonight."
Up three, the Barons returned to a full-court press and it helped them slow Light and the Vikings down. But Northern Lebanon’s Cristian Morales scored on a layup and then Iwuagwu’s drive for a deuce put the visitors in front 56-55 with 1:17 left.
It would the Vikings last lead of the night.
Wiederrecht and Steve Young combined to go 2-of-4 at the foul line to put MC back up 57-56 with 1:00 to go and then Walsh sank a pair from the stripe to make it 59-56.
"Those were big," Sherwood said.
Indeed, they were especially big after Light nailed both ends of a 1-and-1 with :9.1 left, cutting the Barons’ lead to 59-58.
Wiederrecht then missed two freebies and Light took the final shot at the other end, driving into the lane, where he was forced to shoot over the 6-foot-5 Walsh. Fortunately for the Barons, the ball rimmed out and Central held on for the win.
"Matt was straight up and down to the ground and that’s a big using his body," Sherwood said. "That’s not a foul. It’s a perfect play and we were fortunate that that ball rimmed out. Perfect defensive play."
The magic number for the Barons’ defense was to hold Light to 23 points. He scored three more than that, but Manheim Central still got the result it wanted.
"All the guys like Tanner (Brenize), Dan (Wiederrecht), Steve (Young) – all those guys that rotated on Light and Ray, they were phenomenal tonight," Sherwood said. "Light can score 50 on a given night and he’s probably going to at some point. But we made him earn his 26 tonight."
Fortunately, the Barons had an angry Walsh playing for them.
Perhaps it was the showdown with Light that brought it out of him.
Perhaps it was something else.
"I have no secret," Sherwood laughed, "but you know what I think it is? I think it’s his grandpa (Bill Shoen). His grandpa is here and there may be a new rule that his grandpa has to be at all the games. I honestly believe that that is the difference."
Last Wednesday, Dec. 18, Matt Walsh returned to the lineup following a one-game injury absence and led all scorers with 23 point, boosting the Barons to a dominant 65-33 win over Annville-Cleona.
The Central boys took charge in the opening half, grabbing a 39-14 advantage, and it was never close after that.
Taylor Funk chipped in with 15 points, combining with Walsh to drain seven 3-pointers in the lopsided win.
Trenton Wizar scored 11 to lead the Annville-Cleona boys in the losing cause.
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