Cocalico surges late to knock off the Barons
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
There was an opportunity there for both teams.
With Cocalico’s Marissa Gingrich, arguably the Lady Eagles’ best player, fouled out with four minutes and change to go Monday night in Denver, visiting Manheim Central couldn’t have asked for a better scenario heading down the stretch.
Cocalico, on the other hand, had a chance to grow and take a giant step forward if it could hold onto the lead with its top scorer sitting on the pine.
As it turned out, both teams did what they had to do but it was the Lady Eagles who took control and went on to post a 52-35 victory in the first game played in their new gym. Behind a 9-for-13 performance from the foul line in the final four minutes, Cocalico closed out the game on a 19-5 run to salt this one away.
"We cut it to three, but they are a good basketball team. It was in their gym and they found a way to answer," first-year Manheim Central Coach Dan Cotchen said.
"Other people beside Gingrich stepped up, and you got to give (Cocalico) credit for that. "That fourth quarter was not indicative of the type of basketball game that it was. In the fourth quarter we did what we had to do and it got to the point where we had to foul. And they answered with what they had to do — they made their foul shots, and that was the difference. We put them on the line because we had to, and they made them."
Cocalico sophomore point guard Natalie Sukanick scored all six of her points in that final stretch while senior Kristen Boyer added five of her game-high 15 with Marissa Gingrich (13 points) out of the game. Freshmen Emily White and Megan Gingrich (Marissa’s sister) also contributed with the game on the line, with the latter making a key three-point play with 3:41 to go.
Asked if he learned anything about his team Monday, Coach Tony DiMatteo said, "That it’s a team game. Marissa is one of our leaders, our sparkplug, but we have to be deep. We have 11 freshmen, most are JV but a few who are playing varsity, and they have to step up. In fact, Megan Gingrich stepped up. She was fabulous out there, doing things you don’t see in the boxscore. She was in the passing lanes…she’s long and lanky, and she made a huge three-point play. We have to be deep. We know we are going to be in foul trouble from time to time, and if we get to where we want to go other people have to contribute and step up. They did that tonight."
Cocalico (2-1) led most of the way but never could quite shake the Lady Barons. Defensively, the Lady Eagles forced 30 MC turnovers but the Lady Barons would not go away. The biggest lead Cocalico enjoyed through the first three quarters was a 27-20 advantage late in the third. However, an Olivia Novak (6 points) layup at the buzzer made it a five-point Cocalico lead (27-22) heading to the fourth.
Then early in the fourth, the teams traded field goals on the first few trips before Gingrich was whistled for her fifth foul. Sarah Painter (4 points) calmly went to the line and knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a 33-30 game and seemingly give the Lady Barons the momentum.
But Gingrich’s absence only seemed to fuel Cocalico’s fire. Cocalico then went on a mini 7-0 run, punctuated by her sister Megan Gingrich’s three-point play to make it 40-30 with 2:13 to go.
From there, MC was forced to foul and the Lady Eagles closed it out at the line.
"I told the kids if this is the effort they want to give me night in and night out I’m going to be awfully happy," Cotchen said, in spite of the loss. "I don’t question the effort. Right now, our offense is just a couple steps behind our defense but that’s going to come in time. I’ve only been here three weeks, and they’ve only been around that three weeks. I’m happy with the effort that we played on their scorers but they are hard to keep down. The best you can do is slow them down and I thought we did that and made it difficult on them to score. But they still find a way."
That didn’t necessarily mean DiMatteo was overly satisfied with his team’s play.
"We won, but we are not happy," he said. "That wasn’t good enough. It was our first game in our new gym and we wanted to make a statement. We saw the other teams that were here tonight (scouting). Nobody else was playing and I’m sure that they are licking their chops and we welcome the challenge. We need to play harder and we got to be tougher. I told the girls, ‘if you want it, you got to prove it.’ I’m tired of sitting over there yelling and screaming at them. I know they can do better, and that’s the frustrating part. They got to do it. That’s the bottom line."
Caroline Novak led the Lady Barons (1-2) with 13 points while Logan Newcomer added 10 in the loss.
Cocalico opened the season Friday night at the Hamburg Tournament where the Eagles dropped a 70-43 first-round decision to Tri-Valley.
Tri-Valley got out of the gates quickly, outscoring Cocalico 24-8 in the opening quarter. The Lady Eagles never could quite recover from that deficit as Tri-Valley pulled away.
Marissa Gingrich led Cocalico in scoring, dropping in a team-high 15 points on the night. Boyer added 12 in the loss for the Lady Eagles.
Cocalico did rebound with a dominat performance in Saturday’s consolation game, routing Wyomissing, 53-12.
The Lady Eagles jumped out to an 18-0 lead after one period and led 35-4 at the half before cruising the rest of the way.
Gingrich, who along with Boyer was named to the All-Tournament Team, led all scorers with 19 points. Boyer added 12 for the winners.
Cocalico will return to the court Friday night at home when the Lady Eagles host Manheim Township, beginning at 8 p.m. More COCALICO, page B-7