Manheim Central boys alone in first place

By on January 8, 2014

By:

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

, Staff Writer



Photo by Preston Whitcraftâ?©Manheim Centralâ??s Dan Wiederrecht keeps his balance after making contact with an L-S defender and drives inside in Mondayâ??s game.

For the past few years, the Manheim Central boys played the role of the hunter.

Chasing teams ahead of them.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot.

With their 54-36 win over host Lampeter-Strasburg on Monday night in a battle of Section Three co-leaders, the Barons are sitting alone atop the heap and preparing for life as the hunted.

"It was fun (before) to prepare and say, ‘I think we can get them. Some things have to break our way,’" Barons skipper Chris Sherwood said. "Now it’s OK, we have to execute because now teams are going to be playing you saying, ‘Hey listen, we’re going to put in something here, we’re going to hope it works, we’re going to pay attention to detail.’ We just have to be on our toes."

Central was on its toes against the Pioneers, even after star junior Matt Walsh was dealing with early foul trouble in the first half. The 6-foot-5 forward scored six of his 15 points in the opening stanza when the Barons jumped out to a 14-9 advantage.

But with 6:20 to go in the second, he picked up his third foul and went to the bench for the rest of the half.

"Our guys are fighters," Sherwood said. "Obviously, I’d rather play with Matt, but it was next man up and that’s the way we’ve been handling it."

Junior Dan Wiederrecht, who finished with 11 points, certainly stepped up big for the Barons. After burying two free throws, his drive to the bucket put MC up 18-13. Taylor Funk, whose 15 points tied him with Walsh for game-high honors, hit a deuce, and then Wiederrecht cut through the lane again for a layup, capping an 8-0 Baron run and giving them their biggest lead of the half, 22-13, with 1:41 to go in the period.

"I can’t say enough good things about (Dan), I really can’t," Sherwood said of Wiederrecht, a star wide receiver/defensive back on the Central football team. "He just plays so hard all the time. He brings the football mentality to the basketball floor. We had told him in the huddle, ‘Dan, you have to get to the basket,’ and sure enough it was on the first possession, he did. He’s an athlete, a player, a fighter and he’s competitive. Wrap all those things up and you’ve got a really good teammate."

It didn’t hurt either that the Barons’ swarming defense forced nine of Lampeter-Strasburg’s 18 turnovers in the opening half.

"Our goal at this point is to defend and try to make people really uncomfortable," Sherwood said. "I thought in stretches we were able to make them uncomfortable and obviously that worked out for us. The turnovers are big. We kinda want that number around 20."

After Peyton Hoenninger knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1 with :41.1 remaining, cutting the L-S deficit to 22-17 at the break, the Pioneers made a run in the third, getting within three, 28-25, with 5:01 left in the period. R.D. Moore paced L-S with 11 points, while Alec Groff chipped in with 10.

But Wiederrecht answered with a ‘J,’ and then Walsh asserted himself at both ends of the floor, scoring six straight points inside. His block, followed by a putback with 1:20 go go in the third, put the Barons up 36-25.

"I saw that we hadn’t really been attacking the glass on the offensive end and I just decided that, they’re catching up so I might as well try to do something different," Walsh remarked. "I went in and started attacking the glass, started getting rebounds, and I just started to get more buckets inside and that’s really what I think kinda set the game apart and we didn’t let them catch up from there."

Indeed, Funk’s 3-pointer opened the fourth-quarter scoring and ignited a 10-5 run by the Barons, culminating with five straight points by Josh Flanagan, to make it 46-32 with just 1:43 remaining. A triple by Lampeter-Strasburg’s Alec Groff with 1:01 to go pulled the Pioneers to 46-36, but Central went 8-of-12 from the foul line down the stretch to seal it.

"It’s a huge win because they were the Section leader," Walsh said. "But it’s another day, another game. It’s just as important as any other game that we won. So we can’t stay on this win. We’ve got to focus on Wednesday now. We’ve got to beat another team."

Added Sherwood: "We have a tremendous amount of respect for L-S. Coach Achille does a fantastic job around here, so this is a nice win for us. I’m not trying to be cliche, but it’s one. We are on the road again on Wednesday and that will be eight of our first 11 games on the road. So Wednesday’s game is as big as today’s game and that’s the mentality that we’re going to take."

It’s exactly the kind of mentality that a team in the hunted role would take.

Last Saturday, Manheim Central traveled to Mount Joy, where Walsh scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Barons in a 69-33 thrashing of Donegal. Funk and Wiederrecht chipped in with 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Central boys, who took a commanding 39-12 lead at the half and never looked back.

More BARONS, page B-6

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