Emotional win for the Barons

By on January 7, 2015

MC boys outlast Cocalico to remain alone in first place

Manheim Central senior Colin Brubaker (left) plays tight defense against Cocalico star guard Tucker Lescoe (4). Also pictured for Cocalico is John Waskowicz.

Manheim Central senior Colin Brubaker (left) plays tight defense against Cocalico star guard Tucker Lescoe (4). Also pictured for Cocalico is John Waskowicz.

As the Manheim Central boys were doing a walk-through on Monday night for its first-place game against Cocalico, Baron coach Chris Sherwood had the utmost sympathy for his players.

After all, the past two days had been emotionally draining for all of them.

With their friend and classmate Logan Crills having passed away following a four-year battle with cancer, their hearts were still heavy from attending a service and funeral.

“You could have heard a pin drop in the gym (for the walk-through),” Sherwood said. “I’m sitting there saying to myself, ‘Should I really be going through this with the guys? Is this what they really need?’ But it is. They need some normalcy.”

With Cocalico visiting Manheim on Tuesday night, it was, in fact, business as normal for the Barons, as Taylor Funk scored a team-high 21 points and the MC boys earned their 11th straight victory with a 67-58 conquest of the Eagles.

A win by Cocalico (5-2 L-L, 6-4 overall) would have pulled them into a first-place tie with Manheim Central. But the Barons (7-0 L-L, 12-1 overall) &tstr; who had three players in double figures including Matt Walsh and Tony Staffieri with 16 and 15 points, respectively &tstr; had other ideas.

“I have the greatest group of guys you can be around and every ounce of credit goes to them,” Sherwood said. “… It was basically a first-place game and our guys knew that too. That helped us with our healing process as well. But in the grand scheme of things, you’ve got nine more games and we don’t ever really put too much stock into one.”

First place seemed to be safe in the Barons’ hands with them leading by 19 points, 55-36, with 4:04 left to play in the fourth quarter.

But things got interesting down the stretch.

With Manheim Central shooting just 11-of-32 from the foul line in the final stanza, the Eagles &tstr; paced by junior point guard Tucker Lescoe’s game-high 24 points &tstr; closed the gap to six, 62-56, with :33 remaining when Dominic Fabiani hit the second of two foul shots.

But they could get no closer.

“I’m always proud of these guys,” Cocalico coach Travis Wealand said. “I feel like our team is always hustling, always working hard. They didn’t quit and they dug back into the game. We still had a chance (late). You’ve got to be proud of that. They didn’t back down and they tried to win the game.”

The Eagles certainly gave themselves every shot to win in the first half as well. Lescoe was a sizzling 5-of-8 from the field in the opening two quarters, scoring 15 of his 24 points in that time, including a trey to tie the game 16-16 late in the first period.

“We were just trying to keep him from any clean looks, but clearly it doesn’t need to be (much) for him to knock it down,” Staffieri said.

But with 6-foot-8 Funk and 6-foot-5 Walsh, the Barons had a size advantage on the Eagles, and Walsh’s inside bucket at the buzzer put Central up 18-16 after one.

“We outsized them,” Walsh said, “so Funk and I knew that we had height advantages on them and we wanted to get inside. That’s what we really needed to do and we were hitting ‘threes’ in the beginning as well and that definitely opens the inside game for us.”

It was still close when Cocalico’s Moses Ulysee drove for two, cutting the Barons’ lead to 30-27, with 2:40 left in the half. But Funk followed with a ‘three,’ igniting the Barons on a half-ending 11-3 run, capped by Funk’s tip-back at the buzzer, to take a 41-30 edge to the locker room.

“We hit that three and that kinda got us rolling,” Sherwood said. “We really stressed and we thought that we just needed to take care of the ball and I thought we did that in the first half. I thought when we started to roll a little bit, it was because we had really good possessions on the offensive end.”

Colin Brubaker added a fastbreak layup in that stretch, but his biggest contribution in the game was the tireless work he did defending Lescoe. Staffieri added a layup and was in top form distributing the ball to his teammates. And Tanner Brenize again excelled at the dirty work, diving for loose balls and playing tough defense.

“Colin Brubaker was unbelievable tonight defending Tucker Lescoe. Yeah, the kid still scored 25, but he’s a great player.” Sherwood said. “Tony Staffieri played about as well as you can play in the first half of that UNLV shootout. And Tanner Brenize deserves a lot of credit. Tanner was a workhorse.”

In the third, Fabiani’s drive cut the Eagles’ deficit to 43-36 with 4:18 left in the period. But that would be Cocalico’s last field goal for nearly nine minutes.

In the meantime, the Barons had built their advantage back to double digits, and when John Waskowicz finally ended Cocalico’s drought on a layup with 3:33 to go in the fourth, he cut the Eagles’ deficit to 55-41.

But with Manheim Central struggling at the foul line, and Cocalico gaining momentum with four treys in the final minutes &tstr; one each by Ulysee, Austin Noll, Ian Arcudi and Lescoe &tstr; the Eagles were back in it, trailing 61-56 with :38 to go. Fabiani’s foul shot five seconds later cut it to 62-56.

But Funk’s putback and two free throws from Dan Wiederrecht sealed it for the Barons.

“Honestly, the scouting report was play your hearts out and that’s what our guys did,” Sherwood said. “I really believe that the story here is these kids. I just really do. Every single one of them.”

No doubt, they played their hearts out for Crills.

“We’re going to play this season for him,” Staffieri said, “and play rally hard for him and fight through any adversity because that’s what he would do.”

Last Friday, Funk led three MC players in double figures with a team-high 15 points and the Barons knocked off ELCO 56-38 in a Section Three game in Manheim.

Walsh finished with 12 points and Wiederrecht added 11 for the Central boys, who led 32-14 at the half and 48-22 heading to the fourth.

The Barons were also in action last Tuesday, pounding host Middletown 56-31 in the Mid-Penn/L-L Holiday Clash championship game. Walsh led all scorers with 19 points and Funk chipped in with 12 in the winning cause.

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