Bishop McDevitt hands Pioneers loss in district semifinals

L-S has a bit of a history with Bishop McDevitt, most of it on the football gridiron and little of it worth remembering. Unfortunately, that did not change tonight when the two-seeded Pioneers took on the three-seeded Crusaders in the semifinals for the PIAA District 3 AAA championship. Bishop McDevitt beat L-S 72-53 in a game they controlled from the start.

Although Matt Achille notched a layup to open the game, Bishop McDevitt struck right back, and led for the remainder of the contest. In the first quarter, a 10-0 run set the pace for the Crusaders, who at one point led 18-4 before Luke Beers--the Pioneers heart and soul for much of the first half both on offense and on defense--finally drilled a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 11.
Luke Beers' Herculean efforts kept the Pioneers
in the game

For much of the game, L-S took good shot attempts but could not find the bottom of the net and could not grab the offensive rebound, two areas in which the Crusaders excelled, a key to their victory. Moreover, L-S did not have an answer for James White, a Bishop McDevitt forward who scored his thousandth career point during the game's second half, which earned him a polite round of applause from all fans in attendance.

The officiating, however, did not earn much applause. Over the weekend, L-S coach John Achille told LNP that after watching tape of Bishop McDevitt's win Friday over Cocalico, "I couldn't believe the contact ... I guess who's reffing the game is gonna be an issue." Ultimately, the officials were persistent in calling fouls all night long, and Darren Metz, on whom L-S needed to rely to match up against a bigger Crusader team, spent most of the evening in foul trouble as did Matt Achille. Both are typically aggressive defenders, and both saw that aggressiveness penalized.

That said, culpability never rests solely with the officials, particularly with Bishop McDevitt's margin of victory such as it was. The Pioneers routinely allowed the Crusaders two, three, even four chances to score due to some poor rebounding. The athletic Crusaders capitalized on their fast break opportunities as well.

On offense, the Pioneers had no luck shooting the ball, with several attempts rattling in and out. Moreover, they struggled to filter the ball inside to Ben Sandberg for much of the game, and he went long periods without being terribly involved. Ultimately, he did finish with 11 points. Achille led the way with 13 for the Pioneers, while Connor Brown tallied nine, and Luke Beers added eight.

After the game, Eastern York upset number one seeded Milton Hershey, so the Pioneers will now play the Spartans on Thursday evening for third place before they gear up for the state playoffs, which begin next week.

Although one could fault the Pioneers for poor free throw shooting, lackluster rebounding, or an off night from the floor, the team certainly played an intense game for a full 32 minutes, aided by a sizable, blacked-out student section and a supportive crowd. Win or lose, there is a reason hundreds of people made the drive north to Hershey -- this team is fun to watch.

Thanks to senior sportswriter Kevin Reed for assistance with live tweet updates during the game.

--Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief; Photo by Lauren Mast, Sports Photographer

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