Lancaster Mennonite unleashed its offensive arsenal against Somerset on Friday night in first-round PIAA Class AAA basketball tournament action at Richland High School.
The second and fourth quarters were the downfall for the Golden Eagles who fell behind in the second and could never quite get back on track, falling 70-44.
“Too many weapons on their side,” Somerset coach Scott Close said. “They had a solid, complete squad. We just couldn’t stop all the weapons and we were forced to try to make it up offensively and we just couldn’t get our entire offensive flow going tonight.”
Somerset held the Blazers leading scorer, Julian Collazo, to just two points, but unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, the other four starters all scored in double figures led by Zach Lehman with 19 points to go with his 10 rebounds. Matt Hess added 11 points while Darris Bair and Tyler Colstein provided 10 points each. Jeff Jean came off the bench to chip in nine.
“All year we haven’t had one guy that was our go-to guy,” Lancaster Mennonite coach Geoff Groff said. “Teams have had to pick and choose who they want to try to take out of a game and thankfully enough of the time we have other guys who can make plays.”
For Somerset, Dylan Barnes scored a team-high 13 points while Jacob Heiple and Michael VanLenten each added 10.
“Their defense did a nice job,” Close said about the Blazers. “We knew coming in that we were going to have to drive and dish out and hit a couple 3’s from the outside and I don’t think we hit enough 3’s to neutralize their defense tonight and that allowed them to really focus on Heiple and Barnes.”
Lehman, who is headed to Geneva, drew the defensive assignment on Barnes and kept the sophomore guard from putting up the kind of numbers that he has been able to this season including 30 in the district championship.
“Zach is a three-year starter in the middle and back in soccer and knows how to play defense,” Groff said.
The Golden Eagles led 12-11 at the end of the first on a Barnes steal and basket. Barnes hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter and then Lancaster Mennonite went on a 19-0 run to take a 30-15 advantage with 1:39 left. The Blazers outscored the Eagles 21-9 in the second for a 32-21 lead.
In the third, the Eagles got it back to single digits, 40-31, on a VanLenten 3-pointer with 3:48 left in the quarter, but the District 3-7 squad outscored the District 6 champs 10-4 for a 50-35 lead heading into the fourth.
The Blazers (21-7), who will play the Chartiers Valley/Erie Strong Vincent winner on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined, outscored Somerset 20-9 in the fourth to set the final.
“The great thing about tonight’s game is that it serves as experience for all my guys except for the three seniors,” said Close, whose team finished 16-9. “We’ll surely miss the three seniors who have been great for the program, but all the other guys in the locker room got a great spoonful of experience tonight that they can use as motivation for next year.”
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/CoryIsenbergTD.