Flanagan’s late free throws lift Barons over LMH, 54-52

By on January 15, 2014

By:

BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com

, Staff Writer



Photo by Preston Whitcraftâ?©Manheim Central senior Josh Flanagan pulls down a clutch rebound in front of Lancaster Mennoniteâ??s Tyler Lyons in the final seconds of Tuesdayâ??s game. Moments later, he drained two free throws, which proved to the difference in a 54-52 Baronsâ?? win.

Lately, Manheim Central’s Josh Flanagan hasn’t been as sharp as he’d like from the foul line.

In fact, over the Barons’ past four games, he was shooting just 5-of-14 from the stripe.

But the senior forward has been taking some extra free throws after practice. He’s been working on his shot in the driveway at home with his younger brother.

And on Tuesday night, it paid off.

With the Central boys locked 52-52 against Lancaster Mennonite in a battle of Section leaders, Flanagan went to the line with just 1.4 seconds left with the chance to be a hero.

Sure enough, he buried both shots, and then after holding their breath on a last-second shot from Mennonite’s Tyler Constein from just inside mid-court which rimmed out at the buzzer, the Barons came away with a scintillating 54-52 come-from-behind win in a Section Three-Four crossover in Manheim.

The eighth straight win for the Barons improved their record to 8-1 in Section Three (11-2 overall).

"I just tried not to mess up," Flanagan chuckled. "The game was tied and I just tried to put at least one in the bucket."

He did anything but mess up. His nine points off the bench didn’t tell the whole story, as he also grabbed a couple of clutch rebounds in the final seconds – one following a 1-and-1 miss by Constein (team-high 15 points) with :24.9 to go with a chance to give his team the lead, another on a miss by teammate Dan Wiederrecht. Just a moment later, he drew contact to get to the line.

"Our motto here the last few days has been, ‘It’s time to play big boy basketball,’" Central skipper Chris Sherwood said, "and Josh Flanagan played big boy basketball."

It was mostly the Blazers (7-2 Section Four, 10-4 overall) who were playing big boy basketball in the opening half. Thanks in large part to a commanding 18-14 edge on the glass, LMH took a 31-20 lead going to the locker room. They still led by as many as 13 points with 4:53 remaining in the third.

But overall, the Central boys were a different team in the second half.

"I don’t think it’s that anything changed so drastically other than we were smarter, we were more physical," Sherwood said. "Listen, (Mennonite is) really good. We just didn’t let them push us around (in the second half). They got whatever they wanted in the first 16 minutes of the game. Anything. We just wanted to make things tougher for them."

Mixed in with several easy buckets underneath, the Blazers sank five of their six ‘threes’ in the opening 16 minutes. One of those, by Jeff Jean with :28 left in the first quarter, spurred LMH on a 10-0 run which put them up 24-14 with 4:35 left in the half.

"They’re incredibly aggressive, they’re incredibly strong," Sherwood said. "We knew they would be, A’ prepared for us, B, try to punch us in the mouth, and C, try to run the floor all at the same time. The things that they do are absolutely fantastic."

Freshman Taylor Funk, who led all scorers with 19 points, scored 10 in the first half to help keep the Barons close.

But MC’s uphill battle continued after the break, and Constein’s deuce with 4:53 left in the third made it 41-28, favor of Mennonite.

The Central boys, though, finally answered with an 11-2 run of their own, starting late in the third when Matt Walsh (10 points) knocked down a ‘J.’ Flanagan then scored a layup and made one of two freebies to cut the deficit to 43-36 at period’s end. But the highlight of their surge was a triple by Steve Young from the corner with 6:43 to go in the fourth, which put all the momentum on the Barons’ side.

"(Steve) is a senior who is a great kid to be around," Sherwood said. "He is a great kid and he hit a huge shot for us. When we got in the coaches room after the game, the first thing we said was, ‘I think the momentum-changer when it finally sunk in that, oh my gosh, this is about a one-possession, two-possession game, was when Steve Young hit that ‘three.’"

Eventually, MC took its first lead since the first quarter when Flanagan drained two foul shots with 3:59 to go, making it 47-45.

Just over a minute later, it was 51-47 on Wiederrecht’s layup, following a pretty assist by Walsh. Constein buried a long ‘three’ with 2:07 left which cut LMH’s deficit to 51-50, and then after back-to-back Central turnovers, Constein’s deuce in the lane put the Blazers in front 52-51 with 1:04 remaining.

Central’s Colin Brubaker made one of two foul shots with :43.1 left, which tied it 52-all and set up the wild finish.

For Flanagan, it became even a little bit more unnerving when LMH called a timeout after he sank his first free throw with :1.4 left.

"After I made it, right away, I was just like, ‘Alright, I’m going to make the second one, I know it,’" Flanagan said. "Then they called a timeout and it started getting to me a little bit."

Fortunately for Manheim Central, though, he did indeed make the second one, and then after surviving the scare from Constein, the Barons could finally exhale.

"I just went in at halftime and said to the guys,’ We wanted this as a measuring stick. Don’t leave here without giving a true measure on where we are,’" Sherwood said. "(Mennonite) and Columbia right now are the teams to beat in Section Four, and not only that, they’re really good teams. Columbia beat us earlier in the year. I thought they played big boy basketball up at their place and we wanted another shot at a really good team. We got it tonight."

Last Friday, Central closed out its game against Garden Spot on a 21-5 run, clinching a 53-28 Section Three win in Manheim.

After falling behind 24-10 in the first half, the last-place Spartans made it a nine-point game, 32-23, going to the fourth. But that’s as close as they would get, as Matt Walsh and Dan Wiederrecht paced the Barons’ offense with 20 and 12 points, respectively.

In other action last Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Barons got a fast start against ELCO and then nailed down a 55-45 win over the Raiders in a Section Three game in Myerstown.

Matt Walsh finished with a game-high 21 points to pace the Barons, who took a 16-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dan Wiederrecht chipped in with 10 points.

More BARONS, page B-8

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