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Elco stuns Lady Mounts in L-Ls
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Ephrata Coach Mike Garman had a bad feeling after watching his team practice Monday in preparation for its L-L quarterfinal opener Tuesday at home vs. Elco.
"(Monday) was probably the worst practice we had all year," Garman said.
Fresh off its monumental win over Cocalico to win the Section Two title Friday night, the coach feared his team would play Tuesday as it practiced. And unfortunately, his worst fears were realized.
After struggling for most of the way at the offensive end, the Lady Mounts had a fourth quarter they’d like to forget, turning the ball over eight times (29 for the game) while going 0-for-8 from the field down the stretch.
Elco, which took the lead for good on a Cheyenne Hassler putback with 5:06 to play, gradually pulled away, outscoring Ephrata 11-1 the rest of the way to earn a 35-26 upset victory over the Lady Mounts.
"I just felt this coming," Garman said. "We won a big game Friday against Cocalico where all of the things fell into place. Then tonight, they went out and played probably as poorly as we can play. Elco played well and you have to give them credit but we made so many mistakes. I think we had 29 turnovers and that’s just a total lack of concentration."
With the win, Elco won its first L-L playoff game since 1999, and will now advance to face unbeaten Section Four champion Lancaster Catholic (23-0), which survived a 43-39 scare Tuesday against Hempfield, in Thursday’s semifinals (7 p.m.) at Warwick.
The Raiders (15-8), who turned the ball over 25 times themselves Tuesday, found their game at both ends in the pivotal fourth, and it was enough to pull off the upset.
"It was a war of attrition tonight and lucky for us we came out on top," Elco Coach Ashli Shay said. "We don’t always make it pretty but we find a way to win. To me that’s a sign of a true team. We stick together. So many times they could say, ‘we aren’t any good,’ but they stick with it and keep coming back with big plays. We just make the plays when we have to make them. They showed a lot of heart and determination and guts tonight, and I couldn’t be more proud of them."
While Ephrata appeared sluggish for most of the night, the Lady Mounts still appeared to be in decent shape leading 25-24 with 6:02 to play. But after Hassler’s field goal with 5:06 remaining, the Ephrata turned it over on four-straight trips, leading to the Raiders building on that lead they would never relinquish.
"I think they were just so high from what they had accomplished (against Cocalico) that tonight for whatever reason, they just couldn’t find it," Garman said. "You got to be ready to go. And if you aren’t ready to play basketball, this is what happens."
Elco’s defense had something to do with Ephrata’s poor play at the offensive end. Sitting in a 1-1-3 match-up zone for most of the night, the Raiders tried the force the ball out of Sarah Haddon’s hands.
While Haddon did lead all scorers with 16 points, Ephrata was miserable from the field, shooting just 8-for-50 for the game.
"(Our defense) really played to our advantage," Shay said. "We knew their main strength was in the post. The Haddon kid is phenominal. She is one of the nicest post players I’ve seen this year. She can put it on the floor, she can shoot the 15 footer so we knew she was a key and we tried to remove her. But she had her way plenty of times but we also had some nice blocks, good rebounds or we forced some turnovers or missed shots."
The game was tied 6-6 after one quarter of play before Ephrata took a 17-15 lead late in the half. But, perhaps a sign of things to come, Elco’s Halie Parker threw up a Hail Mary just inside half-court that beat the buzzer and gave the Radiers an 18-17 lead at the break.
But despite that, Ephrata came out in the third quarter and Hannah Reimel converted on two-straight trips to open the half and put her team up 21-18. Her second field goal, which came with 6:54 to go int he third, proved to be Ephrata last made bucket of the game.
"Hannah hit those two bucket to start off the third quarter and I’m thinking, ‘OK,’ Garman said. "But then all of a sudden…The fourth quarter was just really bad."
Haddon, who went 10-for-14 from the line for the night, was the lone Ephrata player to reach double figures. Hassler, the leading three-point shooter in the L-L League, was held to just one triple but did get 14 on the night to pace the Raiders.
While Elco advanced, Ephrata will now await the District Three Tournament which gets underway next Tuesday night with first round action. The ninth-seeded Lady Mounts will face eighth-seeded Hershey (19-3) at Hershey High School, beginning at 7 p.m.
"Tonight was totally not who we are as a team," Garman said. "They’ve had a great year and have done a lot of great things, and this was just one game. Now we move on and try to get ready for Hershey." More ELCO, page B-3