Section champion L-S Pioneers win big on senior night

At the outset of the 2015-16 Lancaster-Lebanon League boys basketball season, few analysts had the L-S Pioneers as the favorites to win section three. They did not mind. And 18 wins with just one loss later, they have the final word. The Pioneers defeated Donegal tonight 66-49 to clinch the section three championship, and did so in an emphatic fashion, with all eight seniors playing a significant role in the victory.
George Grau and Logan Miller were two of the seniors to
enjoy some nice playing time on senior night;
 they took advantage

As he has all season, Matt Achille led the way for the Pioneers, posting 15 points, while fellow senior Luke Beers tallied 10. Darren Metz and Connor Brown added six, while George Grau scored four, Jordan Boynton scored three, and Jake Groff scored two. Logan Miller also lodged a strong effort for the Pioneers. Underclassmen Ben Sandberg and Isaac Beers also contributed, scoring 11 and 9 respectively.

The first quarter went back and forth, with three ties and six lead changes, and ended with a tied score at 16. It was in the second quarter that the Pioneers pulled away. Allowing only two points the entire quarter, they scored 16 of their own to hold a 14-point lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Pioneers continued to pad their lead, and received strong contributions particularly from Darren Metz, whose tenacious defense helped set up offense at the other end of the floor. Matt Achille scored eight points in the third quarter to pace the Pioneers, who held a 20-point lead entering the final period.

It was a lead they would not relinquish, and one comfortable enough for Coach John Achille to clear the benches and offer each of the eight seniors significant playing time in the final quarter. With three minutes remaining, he called timeout, and allowed for a standing ovation for his two captains -- his son Matt as well as Luke Beers -- to exit for the final time on their home court (in the regular season). It was a special night for the home crowd, anchored by a "blacked out" student section of well over 100 members.

Coach Achille led his team in cutting down the nets after
their big victory on senior night
On the opposing team was former classmate Evan Burnette, a senior for the Donegal Indians that scored a few points off the bench.

With the win, the Pioneers clinched the section championship, and will tentatively host a league playoff game next Saturday. They presently rank first in District Three, and will be well positioned for the district playoffs as well.

For a team that struggled to finish games last season, the Pioneers certainly have benefited from the experience of their seniors, who play like a veteran team -- for example, L-S missed only one foul shot all night. Coach Achille is obviously proud of his handiwork, as he should be.

Congratulations to the L-S Pioneers, the 2015-16 L-L Section Three champions.

View Lauren Mast's gallery of photos from the pre-game ceremony and the game itself via Google Photos

--Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief

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