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Cocalico pulls away from pesky Warwick
Veteran Cocalico, picked by many to not only win Section Two this year but also challenge for a possible L-L League title, squared off against a young Warwick team that is oozing with talent yet short on years with as many as four freshmen playing key roles for the Lady Warriors.
As expected, experience won out as the veteran Lady Eagles used a successful transition game to run past the Lady Warriors, 74-49, in the Section One-Two crossover game.
Cocalico, which landed four players in double figures, scored 32 fast-break points to eventually pull away from Warwick. Senior Marissa Gingrich led the way with 23 points on the night while sophomore Emily White had a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards. Natalie Sukanick chipped in with 13 points while Megan Gingrich added 12 for the Lady Eagles (4-1 overall, 1-1 league), who rebounded with a strong effort following their first loss of the season Friday at Manheim Township.
“We want to play uptempo and try to get easy buckets when we can,” Cocalico Coach Tony DiMatteo said. “Obviously teams know about Marissa and Emily, but I want all my five players, whoever is out there, to be able to score in transition. We don’t score a lot of points in the half-court so that was definitely something we wanted to do.”
Despite the loss, there were plenty of bright spots on the Warwick side as well. Freshman Rylee Derr followed up her 25-point game Friday night in a loss to Lebanon with another outstanding effort. She finished with a game-high 24 points. Fellow freshman Rene Ross chipped in with 11 points while sophomore Kate Martin added 10 for the Lady Warriors, who fell to 0-5 on the year (0-2 league).
“We have growing pains,” Warwick Coach Amy Derr, mother of Rylee, said of her young squad. “We’re young. There are too many times where I’ll have a sophomore and four freshmen out on the court. This particular crew has only been together this year. I have the freshmen coming in, and two sophomores and two juniors…It’s just a matter of hopefully we can gel. I want them to keep their good attitudes and I don’t want them to play timid. And I want them to go after the ball. I’m just trying to make them individually see all their challenges and hopefully they are going to get better each game at something.”
Cocalico jumped out to a quick 11-1 lead behind a strong start by Megan Gingrich (8 points in the period) before the Lady Warriors rallied to cut the deficit to five on a three-point play by Ross with 1:40 to go. However, Cocalico scored the final four points of the period to take a 19-10 lead into the second.
White extended the lead to 23-10 at the 4:52 mark of the second, cashing in on a pair of free throws. But Warwick wouldn’t go away as Derr scored four-straight points, and after a Lady Eagle turnover, Ross nailed a three to cap a quick 7-0 Warwick surge and cut the Cocalico lead to just six at 23-17.
A White coast-to-coast lay-up stopped the bleeding, and sparked a 13-2 Cocalico which ballooned the lead up to 36-19 at the break.
But Warwick cut into the deficit again, thanks to a 6-0 spurt to start the third and trailed just 35-25. Following a Cocalico time-out, a three-point play by White upped the lead back to 13. Then after a Warwick miss, Marissa Gingrich came down and nailed a trey, stole the ensuing inbounds pass and cashed in on a lay-up to suddenly up the Lady Eagle lead to 44-26 with 4:09 to go in the third.
“I called the time-out and I basically told those five girls who were out there that they had one minute,” DiMatteo said. “That’s about all I said to them and they came out and they played.”
Cocalico then took its biggest lead of the quarter with 13 seconds to go on a lay-up by Emily Fassnacht (4 points) to make it a 58-34 ballgame. But Warwick still had some fight left as Martin drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 58-37 after three.
Warwick then got it down to 18 early in the fourth on a jumper by Derr, but the Lady Eagles finally pulled away for good after an 8-2 run midway through the period.
Afterward, Coach Derr talked about her ever improving team. However, she feels a victory would go a long way in its growth.
“They are good kids and they have good attitudes,” she said. “Nobody is getting mad about playing time. I told them, ‘I’ll try to play all of you.’ I think that way I’m trying to do my part as a coach, to keep them active in the game. So far, attitudes are good but it’s tough. We need a ‘W.’ I’m ready for a ‘W.’”
DiMatteo certainly sees a lot of wins in the Lady Warriors’ future.
“She’s got a nice future there,” he said. “They are all young, and they all can play. And they are going to be together the next three or four years. You can’t teach knowing your teammates, and they are going to get that. Amy has done a really nice job with them. They are super aggressive, they come at you and make you make decisions. The Derr girl is a good player. She’s strong and can handle the ball, she can shoot…she’s going to be a great player. And some of the other girls too. Yeah, that’s a nice team. They are going to have some success in the future for sure.”
As for his team, DiMatteo said he’s still waiting for his team to put a full game together.
“Our word is ‘32,’ and again we have not put a 32-minute game together,” he said. “When we play good teams like we did Friday at Township, you can’t get away with that. We just got to get better. It’s still early, It’s correctable stuff. We are playing hard, We just have to play smarter.”
And how did he feel his team handled its first loss Friday night?
“It was a good test for us,” he said. “I told the girls, you are probably playing the best team in the league in the fourth game of the season. It’s hard. Obviously we are not peaking and they are not peaking, but I said it’s going to be a good test to see what we need to work on. The girls were upset, but when we talked and practiced on Saturday, we said, ‘hey, we did a lot of good things. What could we have done better?’ They are finally understanding it’s a ‘we’ thing. And tonight, I had some girls stepping in and taking charges. That’s the heart of our team. We need to do that and send a message that we are going to be able to do that.
“I thought Friday was good,” he continued. “This is my third year now, and every time we’ve played Manheim Township it’s been a telling game for us. Two years ago we got blown out. However, that’s when we learned to work the ball, and from that point on we were a better team. Last year, we lost to them by nine, but it set the tone for the rest of the season. The girls got some confidence, so I was excited to see the girls come out tonight and play relaxed. They played loose. We didn’t make all of the best decisions but they went out and played. And they are getting better.”
As for Friday’s big game at Manheim Township, the Blue Streaks won out, 39-29 in a defensive struggle in the first crossover game of the season.
Township had three players finish in double figures as Kaitlyn VanTash led the way with 13 points while All-League center Alexandra Leslie had 12. Point guard Jamie Relin added 10 points for the winners.
As for the Lady Eagles, top scorer Marissa Gingrich was held (mainly by VanTash) to a season-low two points. However, sister Megan Gingrich picked up some of the slack with a team-leading 13-point effort. White chipped in with 12 points for Cocalico.
The Streaks rolled out to a 21-12 half-time lead but Cocalico chipped away in the third quarter. Megan Gingrich’s lone three-pointer of the contest at the end of the third got the Lady Eagles to within four at 27-23.
However, Township scored the first six points of the fourth to open up a 10-point cushion. But thanks to a pair of White baskets, Cocalico clawed to within six at 33-27 with 2:47 to go.
Unfortunately, that was as close as Cocalico could get as the Streaks pulled away late and held on for the big win.
Up next, Cocalico hits the road for another tough crossover game Wednesday night art Hempfield before hosting E-town Friday in the Section Two opener.
Both games tip off at 7:30 p.m.