CD East closes out Ephrata girls

By on February 18, 2015
Ephrata’s Kelly Liebl (13) drives against Daniel Boone Friday night. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Ephrata’s Kelly Liebl (13) drives against Daniel Boone Friday night. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Ephrata faced a tall order, both literally and figuratively, Tuesday night in the first round of the District Three Tournament at Central Dauphin East.

With six players on the Panthers’ roster measuring in at 6-0 or taller, including IUP-bound Brittany Robinson (6-1), CD East posed serious match-up problems for the much-shorter Lady Mounts.

As a whole, CD East is one of the top girls teams in the State, having received national recognition in the pre-season rankings before backing it up with its 20-1 season, its lone loss coming in a 57-52 setback to Cumberland Valley in the Mid-Penn playoffs.

To make matters worse for Ephrata, star senior guard Kelly Liebl was courageously battling through a bout with the stomach bug, but was clearly not herself.

In the end, the Panthers were too much on this night as CD East advanced with a convincing 59-28 victory. The Panthers will advance to Friday’s quarterfinals at Carlisle High School (6 p.m.) where they’ll face Red Land, a 64-57 winner of Dallastown.

“It’s hard because you can’t practice against something like that,” Ephrata Coach Mike Garman said of the Panthers, who were overwhelming at times Tuesday. “In terms of the aggressiveness, the physicality of the game, the quickness, the speed and the size…you have to mentally try to prepare for that but it’s tough. They are a very good team and they don’t make it easy.”

And the Panthers imposed their will early Tuesday, but especially at the defensive end. In the first half, Ephrata turned the ball over 15 times and shot a miserable 2-for-20 from the field. At the other end, CD East senior guard Michaela Gelbaugh and Robinson formed a nice inside-outside game to ignite the Panthers’ attack. Gelbaugh scored 13 of her game-high 23 points in the first half while Robinson (14 points) contributed five points and seven boards through the first 16 minutes as the Panthers opened up a 30-5 half-time lead.

“We missed some lay-ups and some shots in the beginning that I think if we make instead of being down 12-2 it might be 12-6 or 12-8…little things like that really hurt us,” Garman said. “But they’ve got everything. They got size, a really good point guard, they have quickness and are aggressive defensively…they play the game the way it should be played. It’s just a tough match-up. Most high school girls teams don’t have the number of six footers that they do. It’s a nice thing to have, plus (Gelbaugh) is very good. She’s just a nice player.”

Liebl, who was playing in her final game, closed out her career with a 13-point night which was pretty good, considering she’s been sick on and off since Friday.

With Liebl’s 13, which led the team, she now stands in fifth place all-time on the EHS girls’ scoring list. She finished with 1,065 points.

“She played her heart out, but that’s just the kind of person she is,” Garman said of Liebl. “She wasn’t going to not play. She’s just a tough kid.”

If it wasn’t out of reach at the half, CD East put an exclamation point on this one in the third, increasing the advantage to 46-17 after three before clearing the bench during the fourth quarter.

The Lady Mounts closed out the season with a solid 17-8 record after placing second in Section Two and advancing to both the L-L League and District playoffs.

Garman said this one loss to close the season doesn’t damper the year in any way.

“We had a great year,” he said. “We are not big, we are small. But I’ll tell you what, they battle. They fight, they scrap and have great heart. They are just a tough group of kids. People don’t understand, when you are small, it’s not easy. It takes a little more effort. The only game this year I thought we struggled was the Cocalico game. Every other game, and this is our 25th game, we were right there. We competed. This loss doesn’t sour anything. It’s just a great group of kids.”

Sophomore Caroline Stauffer chipped in with eight points for Ephrata in Tuesday’s loss.

Ephrata opened District play Friday night at home where the Lady Mounts hosted visiting Daniel Boone in a preliminary game at the Middle School.

The Lady Mounts led from start to finish in a game plagued by fouls by both sides as the teams combined for a whopping 55 fouls shots in the contest.

Ephrata went on an 8-0 run to start the game, and its lead never dipped below four points as the Lady Mounts eventually pulled away for a 43-31 victory over the 19th seeded Blazers (14-11).

Kelly Liebl once again took high scoring honors for Ephrata, scoring a game-high 21 points. Stauffer chipped in with 11 while Kenzie Horst added eight points for the winners.

“I think any time you extend your season, and any time you can get a win, it’s just very important because it’s good for now and good for next year,” Ephrata Coach Mike Garman said. “It gives them coming back some incentive, and the girls who won’t be back, it shows that all of the hard work that they put forth paid off.”

Stauffer helped ignite the Ephrata’s early run, scoring seven of her 11 points in the opening frame as the Lady Mounts led 11-5 after one quarter of play.

After Boone’s Julia Bookwalter’s field goal cut the Ephrata lead to 11-7 at the 6:10 mark of the second, the Lady Mounts went on another quick 8-0 run to up their lead to 19-8 and eventual led to a 21-11 advantage at the break.

Boone got the deficit to within eight (21-13) on a pair of Alayna Roesener free throws at the 6:46 mark of the third, but that was as close as Boone would get as Ephrata opened up a 15-point lead (30-15) after three as Liebl scored eight of her points in that period.

The Lady Mounts eventually got the lead to as high as 41-19 midway through the final quarter before Garman emptied the bench.

Shelby Vanderslice scored seven points to lead Daniel Boone.


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