Despite furious late rally, Ephrata comes up short

By on January 2, 2019
Ephrata’s Carly Holochuck dribbles past a Red Land defender during Friday’s first round of the Lancaster Catholic Holiday Tournament. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s Carly Holochuck dribbles past a Red Land defender during Friday’s first round of the Lancaster Catholic Holiday Tournament. Photo by Missi Mortimer

The Ephrata girls gave a glimpse of what they could be in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s consolation game of the Lancaster Catholic Holiday Tournament.

The Lady Mounts defended, scored in both the half-court and transition on their way to a 29-point quarter, and gave Shippensburg quite a scare down the stretch.

While they did a ton of things right in the final eight minutes, it was the first 16 that did the Lady Mounts in as Shippensburg held on for an eventual 55-49 victory.

“We just stepped up our level of intensity,” Ephrata Coach Brian Cerullo said of his team’s play in the fourth quarter. “We challenged them at half-time to come out and play a lot harder, and they did that in the second half. And now we got to find a way to do that for four quarters, because the way they played in the second half they can play with anybody.”

The first half surely was a dud, as the Lady Mounts struggled at both ends and trailed 33-12 at the intermission. Shippensburg sophomore Tori Rumbaugh did most of the damage, scoring 19 of her game-high 29 points in the first half, which included five three-pointers, which came all in the second quarter.

“Part of it was our fault,” Cerullo said of the Greyhounds offensive success in the first half. “We had them in a zone and they had some shooters. We were getting beat in man early because we weren’t getting through screens, we weren’t talking through screens, and in the second half we went back to man to cover their shooters but we also stepped up our level of intensity big time, and that was the difference. Again, we got to figure out a way to do that for four quarters.”

Ephrata (2-8), which turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and shot just 4 of 28 from the field, got the first six points of the third quarter on a bucket by Julio Rios and two hoops from Gabi Gerola-Hill, who returned Friday after missing a few weeks due to a leg injury.

However, with the Shippensburg lead cut to 33-18, the Greyhounds (4-4) closed out the quarter on a 10-2 run to grow their lead to 43-20.

With eight minutes to go, it appeared out of reach, but the Lady Mounts dug in and made a game of it.

Reagan McCarty’s lay-up started a quick 9-0 Ephrata run which was finished by a Kandice Liebl three-pointer to open the period and cut the deficit to 43-29.

Then after Shipp’s Alyssa Nori stopped the run with a pair of free throws, another Liebl three ignited a 12-2 run by Ephrata that suddenly pulled the Lady Mounts to within 47-41 with 1:50 to go. Liebl (11 points), who recently missed time due to injury, nailed three treys in the fourth while Gerola-Hill, who led Ephrata with 16 points, had eight in the period.

“(Friday) was the first time we’ve had everybody healthy all year,” Cerullo said. “We are still getting to the point where now everybody is rolling because with people out the first month of the season it’s been tough to get everybody on the same page. Now that we’ve got two games under our belts with everybody together hopefully we can start building on it and get better.”

After Liebl’s trey cut it to six, the Lady Mounts got a steal but could not convert. And that was as close as they could get as Shippensburg was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line in the final 1:30 to seal it.

“We go through long stretches without scoring and that really hurts us,” Cerullo said in summing up the loss. “We put up those two-point quarters, four-point quarters…it’s just a matter of coming out with that same intensity as we did in the second half tonight. It’s almost like we need to get hit in the mouth a little bit to get going and get fired up. But once they have that (fire), they can play with anybody.”

In addition to Gerola-Hill and Liebl, Jocelyn Umana also finished in double figures for Ephrata with 11 points.

In Friday’s opener vs. Red Land at Lancaster Catholic, the Patriots led 20-19 at the half before out-scoring Ephrata 11-4 in the third to key and eventual 45-36 victory over the Lady Mounts.

Kennedy O’Brien had 16 and Josie Miller 12 for the Patriots, who earned their first victory of the season.

Gerola-Hill and Liebl both scored eight points for Ephrata, which included two treys each, to lead the Lady Mounts.

Up next, Ephrata opens Section Two play Friday night at home vs. Lebanon before hitting the road Tuesday, Jan. 8 to face Warwick.

“Every game from here on out is winnable,” Cerullo said, looking ahead to section play. “The section is still there. We just got to keep getting better.”



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