Pioneers Lose Thriller To Lower Dauphin
The stage was set for a fierce battle. If the JV game (a 33-30 win for the Pioneers) was any indication, we were in for 32 minutes of hard-fought basketball. The Pioneers entered the game with an 8-2 record, placed 4th in the District III power rankings. The opposing Lower Dauphin Falcons (14-3) sat 2 spots ahead of the Pioneers in 2nd.
Ty Burton in Game vs Cocalcio (Jon Klein)
After a game-opening bucket from the Falcons, the Pioneers went on a 12-2 scoring run to give themselves an early first-quarter lead. The Falcons then went on a run of their own to bring the score to 14-8 by the end of the quarter. Sean McTaggart starred in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the Pioneers' 14 points and knocking down 2 three-pointers.
The second quarter was equally entertaining, with both offenses functioning like a well-oiled machine. The Falcons used their high-intensity blueprint offensively, passing the ball around at the speed of light and generating open looks. Tyler Burton carried the load for the Pioneers, chipping in 7 points during the quarter. The last made shot of the quarter was a three-pointer from Berkeley Wagner, which gave the Pioneers a 29-27 advantage heading into the second half.
Neither side let up in the second half. The Pioneers fought hard, spending plenty of time on the ground diving for loose balls. The Falcons hung with the Pioneers, knocking down their open looks and playing good enough defense to keep the Pioneers lead to a minimum. The Pioneers entered what promised to be a thrilling fourth quarter with a 44-39 lead.
The fourth quarter was as attention-grabbing as advertised. With just under a minute and a half left in the game, Josh Gardner knocked down a three-pointer for the Falcons to reduce the Pioneer lead to only a single point. With around 15 seconds left, Tyler Burton stole the ball away from the Falcons, only to give it right back away. After a questionable (to say the least) foul call, the Falcons knocked down a pair of free-throws to give themselves a one-point lead with only 8 seconds left. Another costly turnover gave the Falcons possession, which yet again resulted in two made freebies. A desperation full-court pass failed for the Pioneers, giving the Falcons a 54-51 win.
Sean McTaggart: I'm not sure what Sean's been eating for Dinner before games recently, but he needs to keep eating it. He's averaging 10.5 points per game in the last 4 games, highlighted by tonight's 19 point performance. 12 of those 19 points came off of three-pointers, at which he shot a 67% clip. McTaggart was also part of a Pioneer offense that moved the ball around well all night, contributing 4 assists to the effort.
Tyler Burton: Speaking of spectacular recent performances, Burton's scored 37 points in the last two games. Tonight he recorded 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. The team fell short in the end, but it was certainly not due to a lack of effort from McTaggart and Burton.
Josh Gardner: I'm not sure I've ever seen a player shoot 16 free-throws in a single game, at least at the interscholastic level. I suppose there's a first time for everything. Gardner converted on 10 of those free-throws as part of a 23 point night.
Honorable Mentions: Berkeley Wagner, Nick del Grande, Tyson Hofsass.
STAT LEADERS: (Lampeter-Strasburg Only)
Points: Sean McTaggart, 19
Rebounds: Nick del Grande, 7
Assists: Nick del Grande, 6
Steals: Sean McTaggart/Tyler Burton, 2
Blocks: Sean McTaggart/Berkeley Wagner, 1
Turnovers: Isaiah Parido/Tyler Burton, 4
The regular season slate is all wrapped up for the Pioneers, who finished with a record of 8-3. Next up is the first round of the District III tournament on Tuesday night. The Pioneers will likely host one of Northeastern, West York, or Section 3 foe Manheim Central.
-By Logan Moyer, LS News reporter