After going 5-3 in its regular summer league slate at Spooky Nook Sports, the Elizabethtown Area High School boys basketball team was able to qualify for the fourteam league playoff, which took place on Thursday, July 26. The Bears faced Central York in one semifinal, with the other featuring Susquehanna Township and Harrisburg.
Elizabethtown held a decent advantage midway through the first half, though Central York was able to battle its way back into the game. However, a buzzer-beater layup from Amos Kollie put the score at 34-27 at halftime. Both Kollie and Larry Locker had 10 points each at the break.
The Panthers once again fought back to tie the game early on in the second half. After a few back-and-forth runs, the Bears held an 8-point lead with just over six minutes left. However, Central York scored nine straight points to take the lead with just under three minutes to go and held firm afterward, ultimately walking away with a 55-50 win.
“I think (Central York) got a little excited and made a couple of plays,” head coach Rocky Parise said. “We made a couple of turnovers, and they started making shots that gave them a little enthusiasm. We’re up five, and our guys are acting like they’re losing. That’s when I screamed out, ‘You guys are winning; play like you’re winning!’ But give them credit; they made shots and they showed some enthusiasm where I don’t think we did tonight.”
Locker and Kollie both finished with 16 points to lead the Bears. Locker also notched a double-double by pulling down 10 rebounds as well. Kollie contributed 8 rebounds and 3 assists, while Elijah Eberly and Dylan Sweger each had 7 rebounds. Luke Pierson led the team with 5 assists. The scoring outputs for both Locker and Kollie are encouraging, considering that they’re both entering their senior seasons.
“I think they’ve composed themselves really good, so I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Coach Parise said. “But I think the next part of that is being leaders out on the floor with their teammates, not just how they carry themselves and how they play. I think they need to be vocal with their teammates, and that’s what we’re trying to help them with.”
Alex Salter led all players with 17 points for Central York. Evan Eisenhart chipped in with 11 points and 5 rebounds, while Saa’hir Cornelius and TyQuez McMillan both had 8 points. While
the Bears far outrebounded the Panthers 41 to 17, Central York’s offense was boosted by their assist totals, beating Elizabethtown out 14 to 10.
“I couldn’t get them to do it tonight,” Coach Parise said. “A lot of the guys were just putting their heads down and trying to go. We called a timeout to try and focus on making the extra pass, but it just didn’t happen tonight. If we’re gonna be any good this year, we have to learn that. We have to count on our teammates to cut and play together, (instead of) throwing the ball to one guy. I thought that was the big difference tonight.”
The summer league as a whole was up-and-down at times for Elizabethtown. The Bears won their first five games before losing their last four. Locker led the team by averaging just over 13.4 points and just under 7.3 rebounds per game. Six of Elizabethtown’s players averaged at least 7 points per game (Kollie: 10.1; Eberly: 9.4; Pierson: 9.0; Ryan Parise: 8.7; and Sweger: 7.1), which should bode well for the team’s offense when the actual season rolls around. However, Coach Parise feels that the biggest obstacle the Bears have to overcome is inconsistency.
“I think we showed flashes of being really good,” Coach Parise said. “But it’s flashes. There’s got to be some consistency there. Tonight, I think we looked like a little bit different of a team because we haven’t been together for the past couple of weeks. But with that being said, all that work we put in shouldn’t go right out of the window in two or three weeks. The negative that we need to continue to work on is being more consistent and communicating out on the floor. A lot of things that we haven’t seen a lot reared their ugly head tonight, so we just need to make sure we work on that stuff before the season starts.”
Elizabethtown is done for the summer as far as basketball activities go. The plan is to start regular workouts and open gyms again sometime in September. There’s certainly a lot of potential on this year’s team, but the Bears will still have a lot of work to do ahead of the regular season tip-off in December.
“We’ll probably pick it back up when school starts,” Coach Parise said. “We’ll give the guys a good four or five weeks off. There are a couple of guys finishing up their AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) schedules, and then they’ll kind of get away from things. I think everybody’s been going so hard, it’s good for everyone just to get away for a month and refuel.”