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Cocalico girls start fast, close strong in win over Warwick
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
The seeds for Cocalico’s 47-36 win over Warwick Tuesday were planted in the second half of a blowout loss Friday night at Manheim Township.
The Lady Eagles, who were held scoreless by the Blue Streaks the entire first half that night in the eventual 42-14 decision, used the second half of that game to work out the kinks of an offense that had a hard time getting going.
Tuesday night, they earned the fruits of their labor with a complete performance to take down the Lady Warriors. Cocalico opened up an early lead, took care of the basketball when the Lady Warriors turned up the defense, and put it away down the stretch with an impressive 19 for 22 performance from the foul line.
First-year Coach Tony DiMatteo couldn’t have asked for anything more than he got from his troops Tuesday night in Denver.
"I just think every game we are getting better," DiMatteo said. "That last game, everybody looked at the score and saw one thing but they didn’t realize we were working on our offense (in the second half). We had possession the rest of the game and I told the girls I felt good about. It was sort of like a practice. We wanted to win obviously but there were some things we needed to work on, and we did that. And tonight it showed. We moved the ball, we shifted against the press and against the zone…Everybody stepped up and hit their foul shots, and the bottom line was we played defense."
While Cocalico did come up big offensively with sophomore Marissa Gingrich leading the way with 14 points, including an 8-for-10 performance from the line, it was the Lady Eagle’ defense which set the tone. Cocalico forced 14 turnovers and held the Lady Warriors to an 18 percent shooting night (10-for-56) from the field.
"It starts on the defensive end, and we work on our foul shooting," DiMatteo said. "Those are the two big keys. If you play good defense and make your foul shots, you are going to be in a game. That’s what we stress and it worked out well tonight."
Warwick Coach Amy Derr credited Cocalico but also said lack of execution on her team’s part played a part in the defeat as well.
"Offensively, there were a lot of easy buckets we didn’t get in the first half," she said. "I didn’t feel like our defense was that bad but we were just getting called for everything. And I’m not blaming it on the refs. It was just a tough one. Offensively we kind of struggled with getting the shots and having them going in. It was as simple as that."
Cocalico opened the game on an 8-0 run but it could have been worse for Warwick as the Lady Eagles made their first two shots before missing on their next six trips. A pair of baskets by point guard Lauren Waskowicz completed the early Cocalico spurt before Megan Hunt (six points) finally got the Lady Warriors on the board with a trey with 1:59 to go in the period.
Warwick then closed the gap to just 10-7 by period’s end, and appeared to have the momentum. However, Cocalico opened the second with a 12-1 run to widen the gap to 22-8 midway through the period.
But it wasn’t all good news for the Lady Eagles, who saw Waskowicz, who missed the entire season a year ago with a knee injury, go down midway through the period with an injury to that same knee. She did not return.
However, in her absence, Cocalico remained in control. Leading 24-11 at the break, the Lady Eagles built the advantage up to 16 points late in the period after a pair of Gingrich foul shots.
Warwick (2-3 overall, 1-1 league) did seem on the verge of a run early in the fourth when Hunt and Madi Derr (6 pts.) converted on back-to-back possessions to get their team back to within nine points at 36-27.
But Cocalico (2-3, 1-1) was able to keep Warwick at bay from the foul line, nailing 11 of 14 from the line in the final four minutes to put it away for good.
In addition to Gingrich, 6-0 junior center Kristen Boyer chipped in with 10 points for Cocalico while Taylor Esterly and Waskowicz each finished with six.
"Their shooting, whether it was from the foul line or from the field, was better than ours tonight," Coach Derr said. "We were kind of keying in on (Boyer). We had them scouted and she was the person they were looking at whether it be inbounds plays or offensively, but at the half when we looked at everything they were kind of spread out in their scoring. It wasn’t like we had to key in on that one player. They were just very hot tonight. It was just one of those games."
According to DiMatteo, it was a total team effort by his club.
"They all just stepped up," he said. "They are starting to get to know each other. These girls really haven’t played together. Even (Waskowicz) missed last year so she really didn’t play with these girls. We’ve had a couple weeks of practice and a couple games, and we are getting better each game."
As for the Lady Warriors, who were led Tuesday by Bethany Zimmerman’s 14 points, it will be back to the drawing board as they prepare for Thursday night’s tilt at home vs. Elizabethtown.
"We need to really work on our offense," Derr said. "We need to work on passing the ball better. I felt our ball movement could have been better. Our bigs were trying to get their shots off. I think at times they dribbled a little bit too much instead of an easy drop step and in. But again, we’ll be working on our offense. I do feel like we are not struggling with defense, but unfortunately when the other teams are shooting the lights out it’s hard to defend that." More COCALICO GIRLS, page B-4