Daubert Gym was rocking in more ways than one on Thursday, Dec. 27, and Friday, Dec. 28, as the Elizabethtown Area High School boys basketball team held a twoday event, the Allen Restorations Inc. Holiday Shootout, featuring the Bears and five other teams (Central Dauphin, Kutztown, Lampeter-Strasburg, Middletown and Northern York) playing two games each in front of a loud and passionate group of spectators.
Elizabethtown, however, left the shootout with mixed results. On the one hand, the Bears were at their best in a 76-48 blowout over Kutztown on Thursday. On the other hand, they came up just short against Central Dauphin in a 62-58 defeat on Friday, losing to a Rams team that entered the event undefeated before losing to Lampeter-Strasburg on Thursday.
The first quarter between Elizabethtown and Kutztown was tight, with the Cougars riding off 8 points from junior Lucas Floyd. The Bears, meanwhile, had four players enter the scoring column.
In the second, however, senior Larry Locker took over, scoring 10 points, including two emphatic reverse dunks from the baseline. Two 3-pointers from junior Brody Beach helped as well, putting the Bears up 38-26 at halftime.
Elizabethtown went back to a balanced attack in the third, as all five starters had points. A 7-0 run to open the quarter and a buzzer-beating 3-ball from junior Ryan Parise put the score at 58-40 in their favor by the start of the fourth. Parise caught fire afterward, hitting two more 3s and a layup, then finding Locker for a fast break score to give Elizabethtown a 68-43 advantage, enough to coast to a victory.
“We really focused on pressure tonight,” head coach Rocky Parise said. “We felt like the opponents we’ve been able to pressure so far really set us up for a game like this, to come out and kind of hit a team that maybe hasn’t seen that sort of athleticism before. It didn’t really work initially, but then I think we wore them down in the second half, and once the floodgates opened, you started seeing that take place.”
The box score was electric all-around for Elizabethtown, with four players hitting double figures and two more scoring at least 8 points. Locker led the way with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Ryan Parise finished with 13 points, while senior Amos Kollie had 11 points. The two combined for 11 assists and 5 steals. Sophomore Luke Pierson (10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals) and junior Elijah Eberly (9 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) were both active statistically.
“That’s what we’ve talked about for two years now,” Coach Parise said. “The guys are starting to see that and buy into it. Nobody is concerned with who scores. They’re just concerned with making the right play. That’s tough to get high school kids to buy into, but these guys are seeing the results when that happens.”
Senior Dane Fegley had a team-high 14 points for Kutztown, while Floyd finished with 11.
The contest against Central Dauphin was a game of runs for both sides. The Rams went up 10-4 to open up the game, eventually holding a 17-9 lead at the end of the first. The Bears responded with an 11-3 run of their own, briefly taking control late in the first half before an 8-2 Central Dauphin run put the score at 29-26 in the latter’s favor at the break.
A 10-0 run to start the second half followed for the Rams. They finished the third up 50-36. Elizabethtown didn’t go away, however, tying the game with just under two minutes to go on an and-one from Locker. Central Dauphin responded with six straight points though, which was enough for the win.
“It says that we have the talent to compete with anyone,” Coach Parise said. “But that doesn’t mean you just walk on the floor and win. We have to be ready every night to play. This is the first game all year that we had some mental lapses and weren’t focused and ready. With that being said, we kept fighting and almost pulled it off.”
Central Dauphin is generally a balanced team offensively, and that showed in thisone, with 10 players scoring points. Junior Rance Russo led all players with 18 points, making two 3-pointers. Sophomore Ryan Smith had 9 points as well.
“CD plays a lot of guys,” Coach Parise said. “We felt if we could limit their runouts for easy layups and limit their offensive rebounds we could win. Unfortunately, we gave up a ton of offensive rebounds, especially in the fourth quarter.”
For Elizabethtown, Locker finished with a team-high 14 points, along with 7 rebounds. Ryan Parise and senior Dylan Sweger each chipped in with 10 points, with the former getting 6 assists and the latter nailing two 3’s. Pierson led all players with 13 rebounds.
Now at 4-5 after a challenging nine-game stretch in December, the Bears will look to regroup on the road at Hershey on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The Section Two schedule will begin afterward, with an away game at Warwick on Friday, Jan. 4, and a return home on Monday, Jan. 7, against Conestoga Valley.
“We have had a really tough schedule,” Coach Parise said. “We have won two really close games against good opponents and lost two really close games against good opponents. That can only benefit us down the stretch.”