The Elizabethtown Bears boys basketball team used a second-half surge to roll over Solanco, 61-35, in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 2 action at Daubert Gym.
Holding a five-point lead at halftime, the Bears outscored Solanco 22-8 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach and improve to 2-2 in Section 2 and 3-4 overall. It was also during the decisive third quarter where sophomore guard Ryan Parise (17 points, four assists) and junior forward Larry Locker (16 points, eight rebounds) combined to score 18 points.
Along with Amos Kollie, who added 13 points, the trio outscored Solanco on the way to victory on Friday, Dec. 22.
“Those three kind of hold it all together for us,” Elizabethtown coach Rocky Parise said.
It was the younger Parise’s ability to probe through the Solanco defense to find high-percentage shots for Locker and backcourt mate, Kollie, who scored six baskets in the paint as the Bears shot 26-for-40 (65 percent) from the field.
Credit Elizabethtown’s offensive efficiency for its ability to turn the close game into a blowout. The Bears attempted 30 shots in the paint and nine from beyond the three-point arc – making two – capitalizing on high reward shots.
For a young team (Elizabethtown starts two sophomores and three juniors), the discipline was evident against Solanco.
“Focus was an issue for us last year and they have really started to come together,” Parise said.
It helps that the Bears have some pieces. Locker, a big man who is comfortable posting on the low block or handling the ball facing the basket, leads the team with 14.3 points per game and appears on the verge of blossoming. Parise says the team works during practice to scheme ways to get the ball to Locker, but the junior has to make the most of his opportunities.
His play during the first half against Solanco was limited by foul trouble and his free-throw shooting has been suspect all season, converting on just 11-of-20 (55 percent) of his chances.
The ability, however, is there for Locker.
“He’s also quick and uses his athleticism,” Parise said. “We have struggled on game-to-game in getting him the ball and it has been a focus of ours in practice. He has been working with our big-man coach Lee Eckert, who is the best big-man coach around in my opinion, and it’s starting to come together for him. We just have to work harder to get him the ball.”
And when Locker gets the ball, it doesn’t matter if it’s in the low post or facing the basket.
“Sometimes we have success when he gets it on the block and sometimes we have success when he gets it facing the basket,” Parise said. “When we get him moving we just let it ride with whatever he’s good with.”
The Bears’ schedule will be a bit busy over the Christmas break and into the new year, as well. The team hosts its holiday tournament on Thursday, Dec. 28, and Friday, Dec. 29, facing Central Dauphin in the opener and either Bishop McDevitt or West York on the second night.
After that, Elizabethtown hosts Section 2 rival Garden Spot on Friday, Jan. 5, before facing Susquehannok High at Manheim Central on Saturday, Jan. 6.
“It’s going to be really competitive. But we’re excited for the challenge,” Parise said. “We think we can compete with all of those teams and we’re just happy with the things that we address after each game and the kids are really starting to play.”