Section 3 is Pioneers' to lose after big win over ELCO, 70-60

With a start time about as fluid as the L-S offense (first it was 7:30, then around 5:15, and ultimately 4:00) and a student section energized after getting to sleep all day due to teacher inservice, the ingredients were ripe for a big Pioneer victory on the hardwood ... and they got it done, downing the ELCO Raiders 70-60 ahead of an impending snow storm expected to bring up to 24 inches of snow, incidentally Matt Achille's scoring total and one less than Ben Sandberg's (25).
Matt Achille's 24 points paced the Pioneers in their 70-60 win

L-S jumped out to an early lead, and held ELCO scoreless for the first half of the first quarter; the Raiders finally got on the board with 3:48 to play in the period, and after one, L-S led 17-11, in large part thanks to Ben Sandberg's eight first quarter-points, including two three-pointers.

Sandberg hit another three to start the second quarter, and L-S was off to the races, opening up leads as large as 12 with the Sandberg and Achille-fueled offense. ELCO fought back towards the end of the half, and entered intermission down by eight points.

If ELCO was going to make a comeback, it was going to come late in the third quarter. After falling behind by 13, the Raiders opened a 13-3 run capped by a buzzer beater that pulled them within three with eight minutes to play.

All game, both teams shot remarkably well at the foul line, which contributed to the high score; ELCO was 17-18 at the stripe, while L-S was 20-22.

As the fourth quarter began, some of that foul shooting helped each team keep pace with its opponent, and both teams were in the penalty by the time there were five minutes to play. L-S reached the double bonus with a little more than two minutes to play, and that proved consequential, as they made five more free throws down the stretch, ultimately opening a 12-point advantage that was cut to 10 only in the final seconds by an ELCO layup.

The Pioneers' 70-60 win brings them to 17-1 on the season (12-1 in league play) with four games (three league games) to play. They now hold a two-game lead over ELCO and Cocalico (their only loss) in section three. They ranked first out of 36 teams in the District Three AAA power rankings entering the game, a rank that will only be solidified with a big win over a tough opponent; their slate for the remainder of the season consists of Northern Lebanon (away on Monday), Donegal (home next Thursday, 1/28), a non-league game in Mifflin County next Saturday, and Cocalico (away on Friday 2/2). Wins in their two league games next week would clinch the section.

View a full collection of Lauren Mast's photos via Google Photos

--Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief

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