Ephrata girls edge L-S in consolation game

By on December 31, 2013

Ephrata’s Kelly Liebl (13) makes a move against the L-S defender during Saturday’s game. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Ephrata’s Kelly Liebl (13) makes a move against the L-S defender during Saturday’s game. (Photo by Stan Hall)

If there is one thing Ephrata girls Coach Mike Garman has figured out through the first nine games of the season, it’s the fact that his team will play in a lot of close games.

What will ultimately determine this team’s success is if, and when, they learn how to win the majority of them.

“That is who we are right now,” he said Saturday after his team bounced back from a tough four-point loss to McCaskey in the first round of the Ephrata Tournament with a 40-34 victory over Lampeter-Strasburg in the consolation game of the tournament.

“This is the way it’s going to be,” Garman said of the tight games. “I don’t think anyone is going to blow us out. Figuring out a way to win those close games is going to be the key, and this was a good start for us.”

Saturday, against an L-S team that returns four starters from a squad that went to the L-L Finals a year ago, the Lady Mounts found themselves in another barnburner. However, this time, they were able to pull through.

Four times in this game, Ephrata (4-5) held a six-point lead and could have expanded it. But, to the Pioneers’ credit, each time, they battled back to get to within a basket.

Same thing held true in the fourth when Ephrata’s Caroline Stauffer opened the scoring with a deuce to give her team a 31-25 advantage with 7:35 to go. However, two big three-pointers by Bella Miranda, sandwiched around a basket from Ephrata’s Kenzie Horst, cut the Lady Mount lead to 35-33 with 4:09 remaining.

However, Ephrata responded at both ends of the court during this critical stage. First, Kelly Liebl sank one of two foul shots to up the lead to three. The Ephrata defense then forced back-to-back turnovers before Horst cashed in on a big putback for a 38-33 lead with 1:24 to go.

Miranda did make a free throw at the other end with a minute to play but Stauffer, who led the Lady Mounts with 14 points, canned a pair of free throws with two seconds left to clinch the victory.

“They want to do well, and they realize they have to work together to make it happen,” Garman said. There has to be effort not sometimes, but all of the time. And I think today that was certainly evident. Yeah, we made mistakes, which we are going to do. But you know, it’s just a process. Each team that you have is so different. This team is working through all of this. We have to learn to be more consistent and play better defense, and actually in these two games we played better defense, so that was positive. We didn’t do as well offensively as we’ve been doing but I’d rather play better defense and win a game by three or four points than score 50 and lose. The bottom line is, to beat a team that returns four starters from an L-L Finals team…that’s a good win.”

Ephrata’s Irene Lascarides puts up a shot vs. Lampeter-Strasburg during Saturday’s Consolation Game of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Ephrata’s Irene Lascarides puts up a shot vs. Lampeter-Strasburg during Saturday’s Consolation Game of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament. (Photo by Stan Hall)

In addition to Stauffer’s 14 points, Kelly Liebl added 11 for the winners. Tori Schultz led the Pioneers (6-3) with 14 points.

Ephrata was sent to the consolation game after dropping a 40-36 decision to McCaskey in a sloppily played game Friday night in the first round.

McCaskey freshman Ahnera Parker, who led all scorers with 18 points, scored eight points in the final period, and iced the game with a pair of free throws with 28 seconds to play.

Down four, Ephrata never got a shot off the rest of the way, and McCaskey (5-2) held on for its second victory of the season vs. the Lady Mounts, having earned a 58-50 victory over Ephrata back on Dec. 13.

Ephrata scored nine points in every quarter Friday, and led for a majority of the contest. However, the Lady Mounts never could find their rhythm.

The Lady Mounts led 18-16 at the half but trailed 26-23 heading to the fourth. Junior guard Kelly Liebl did score seven of her team-high 15 points in the final period, as the Lady Mounts tied it on four different occasions. However, they never could re-take the lead, thanks in large part to Parker, who tallied 16 of her 18 in the second half.

Kelly Liebl was the lone Ephrata girl in double figures as sharp-shooting freshman Stauffer was held to nine points. Horst did add eight points in the losing effort for Ephrata.

Following Saturday’s consolation and championship games, the all-tournament team was announced. The Most Valuable Player award went to Governor Mifflin’s Madison Koehler, who scored 23 points to lead her team to the title with a 56-47 triumph over McCaskey in the championship game.

The all-tourney team included: Jen Martin (Governor Mifflin); Ayanda McGill-Jefferson (McCaskey); Kelly Liebl (Ephrata); and Schultz (Lampeter-Strasburg).

Up next, the Lady Mounts return to Section Two play Friday night when they travel to Elizabethtown (7:30 p.m.). They’ll host Elco in a non-league game Saturday (1:30 p.m.) before a pair of tough road games next Monday (at CV) and next Wednesday (at Cocalico). Both of those games tip off at 7:30 p.m.

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