Lebanon Catholic s Timmy Orr gets free for the game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds to play Friday night against Lancaster Mennonite, breaking a 67-all tie.
Lebanon Catholic s Timmy Orr gets free for the game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds to play Friday night against Lancaster Mennonite, breaking a 67-all tie. Orr finished with 28 points in the Section Four victory on Assumption Hill. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS CHARLES GROVE )
There have been some notable exceptions over the years, but in many cases in seasons past the Lebanon Catholic boys' basketball team has only been capable of - and sometimes content with - being a good Class A team.

This is not one of those seasons.

No, this group of Beavers can not only run with the big dogs, they can on occasion command the pack.

Just ask a deep, athletic and talented Lancaster Mennonite team, which brought its perennial title contender self to Assumption Hill on Friday night with a shiny 5-1 record and sole possession of first place in Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four.

It did not depart Lebanon Catholic in the same manner.

On the strength of a superb overall team effort highlighted by senior guard Timmy Orr's tiebreaking layup - and one - with 2.5 seconds left, the Beavers registered the first of what could well be many eye-opening wins this winter, an epic 70-67 triumph in front of the faithful on the Hill.

The dramatic win left Catholic 6-2 overall and right back in the thick of the early stages of the section chase at 2-2 in league play.

But based on the way it performed Friday, even a loss wouldn't have erased the fact that the Beavers are not just a good small-school team this season. They're just good. Period.

That seemed to be evident when Catholic gave Class AAA force Lampeter-Strasburg a mighty push a week ago before falling in double overtime.

But after watching a ragged practice on Thursday following Wednesday's loss to Donegal, and the subdued demeanor of his squad prior to Friday's game, Catholic coach Scott Clentimack wasn't sure he was about to see something special.


"We kinda got it handed to us (against Donegal), and you always want to see how you're gonna react," Clentimack said. "And I thought we reacted really, really well. I'll be honest with you, before the game I didn't know that we would. There didn't seem to be a lot of energy. I'm thinking, 'Oh, God.'"

It didn't take long for Clentimack's fears to be quieted. Behind 10 of Orr's team-high 28 points, Catholic took the fight to Mennonite from the get-go and didn't let up until Orr sliced through a pack of defenders for the go-ahead points in the waning seconds and Julian Collazo's bid for a ninth 3-point bucket and 36 points bounced off the front rim as time expired.

"It's right up there," Clentimack said of how significant the win was to his team. "First of all, after eight games we've already surpassed our win total (five) from either of the past two years. But it was really important because they were undefeated in the section. If they beat us tonight, they have a three-game lead on us. This was big in order to bring them back to the pack a little bit.

The Beavers  Jaylan Colon works against Blazer defender Matt Hess during Friday night s L-L League encounter in Lebanon.
The Beavers Jaylan Colon works against Blazer defender Matt Hess during Friday night s L-L League encounter in Lebanon. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS CHARLES GROVE)

And throughout the contest the Beavers - led by Orr but aided immensely by Alex Frattaroli's hard-earned 20 points in the paint, Anthony Pletz's big shot-making 17 and scrappy role-playing from Jaylan Colon, Drew Gates and John Groh - proved they could bring a rival back to the pack with force and not with mere hope.

It's a by-product of what Clentimack says is some of the best team chemistry he's seen from one of his clubs.

"It's great," Orr said. "Even the past three years, I don't know if we've had the good chemistry we have this year. We're all friends, we hang out besides basketball. It doesn't matter who gets the points. We just want to win."

The Beavers' tight-knit ways were quite necessary Friday, given the every-possession-counts nature of the contest, which neither team ever led by more than seven points.

Catholic's largest lead of the first half came at 26-20 with 5:40 left in the first half after Frattaroli finished off a perfect fastbreak bounce pass from Orr.

But with Collazo (33 points) simply unconscious from beyond the 3-point arc, Mennonite (5-2, 3-1) never let Catholic get comfortable and got to the half down just 37-33.

The Beavers made another bid to pull away early in the third, using a Pletz '3' and another layup-and-one from Orr to open up a 45-38 edge with 4:57 to go in the third.

By the dying seconds of the third, though, Mennonite was back in front, 52-50 and Catholic needed a Pletz '3' at the buzzer to take a one-point lead into the final quarter.

"They made runs, and I knew they would," Clentimack said. "And this was great for us, because in the past we haven't responded to those things. Tonight, we responded."

Over and over again in the fourth, despite the fact that Catholic never trailed after Pletz's third-quarter buzzer-beater.

Showing its mettle, Mennonite tied the contest twice in the final 1:32, the last time on a Jon Snader putback with 1:02 left.

On the ensuing possession, Catholic ran its offense without taking a shot and spent another timeout with 12.4 seconds left.

Out of that regrouping session came a play the Beavers call 'Power', which gives Orr the ball in the middle of the floor with the option to attack the basket or dish the ball to a shooter on the wing if the defense collapses on him.

Let's just say there was no need for Orr to pass. With time winding down, he found an opening to the basket and made the biggest play of his career to date. And a few other Beavers' careers as well.

"It's called 'Power,' which is basically just a pick and roll," Orr said of the decisive play. "Coach pretty much told me to go to the rim. He wanted me to either get fouled or make the shot. Luckily, I did both."

Nothing wrong with a little luck, which the Beavers found some more of when Collazo's on-target '3 try at the buzzer came up a centimeter short.

"I thought it was for sure going in," Orr said with a smile. "What did he make, eight of them? I definitely thought it was going in and we were going to overtime. But it was just a little short."

On this night, though, the Beavers were not.