Article by Perry Mattern, The Sentinel
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Without Logan Stumpf in the lineup for the Cedar Cliff Colts, somebody had to pick up the scoring slack.
With the Division 1 signee feeling a little under the weather, it was Will Hopkins who almost doubled his point total this season by dropping 25 points to lead Cedar Cliff in a 56-48 road win over Mechanicsburg Friday night.
“I told my teammates I felt good in warm ups, and if you see me I’ll hit it,” said Hopkins, who drained three from behind the arc.
Cedar Cliff (4-0, 2-0 Keystone Div.), who also got 10 points from Nol Aru and nine from Colton Lewis, jumped out to a 16-6 lead early and kept their distance for the entire game. The rowdy student sections from each school gave the Mechanicsburg gym a feel of a rivalry brewing between the schools, who are entering their second year together as Keystone playmates.
The Colts made their first eight shots in a frantic first quarter that saw Mechanicsburg struggle with the pace of the game and as a result turned the ball over five times. Despite only scoring two points, Christo Majok set the tone for the Colts by creating multiple steals along with hitting double digits in assists on the offensive end.
“The key to us is our defensive intensity,” Cedar Cliff head coach Jim Rowe said. “Our defense dictated the game, in the first half especially. The incredible things (Christo) does, not only the steals and the deflections, it’s also the taking charges and assists. He creates so much havoc for opposing guards, they’re hesitating all the time because they think he’ll get his hand on the ball.”
It only got worse for Mechanicsburg (1-3, 0-2 Keystone Div.) early in the second quarter as head coach Bob Strickler had to call timeout twice within the first 1:25, with the latter coming after a Cedar Cliff bucket that made the score 27-11.
“It’s not a rivalry ‘til we get a win, but they played awesome in the first half,” Strickler said of the Colts’ 38 points before intermission, “It was interesting to see how they would deal with a little adversity without Logan here, but Will really stepped up and answered the bell.”
Despite trailing by 15 at halftime, the pesky Wildcats worked their way back into the game.
With Majok in foul trouble, along with slowing down Hopkins after an 18-point first half, Mechanicsburg managed to win the second half by a seven point margin, but never seemed to sustain any momentum.
After a steal in the third quarter, Aru went on the fast break alone, but at the last second Collin Farnham slid underneath Aru near the hoop to take a charge setting off a frenzy on the Colts’ bench.
A technical was assessed to an assistant coach from Cedar Cliff, and Mechanicsburg’s Brett Minter nailed the two free throws to cut the lead to ten, but the team could not keep up the energy to come back.
Farnham was the only Wildcat in double figures with 13, as the team struggled to find the big shot to make the game close.
“I’ve gotta give my kids some props, they could’ve rolled over and let it get ugly,” Strickler said. “That’s the next step for us. We make that run to get back in the game, but we couldn’t get that stop or make a layup or open jumper when we needed it.”
Cedar Cliff remains unbeaten on the season and will take on Hershey at home next Tuesday, while the Wildcats look for their first Keystone win when they travel to Lower Dauphin.
“I expect us to win the division,” Hopkins said. “Right now we’re playing great basketball – we just have to keep our teamwork. Anybody can score any night, someone just has to step up.”