Ephrata girls to face Elco in Thursday’s play-in round

By on February 6, 2019
Ephrata’s Reagan McCarty (22) leads the break during Tuesday’s regular-season finale vs. Elizabethtown. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s Reagan McCarty (22) leads the break during Tuesday’s regular-season finale vs. Elizabethtown. Photo by Missi Mortimer

The Ephrata girls basketball team clinched second place in Section Two Monday night by virtue of E-town wrapping up the section with a 61-31 win over visiting Lebanon.

By virtue of their runner-up finish, the Lady Mounts will open the L-L League playoffs this Thursday with a play-in game vs. Section Four second place team Elco at Garden Spot High School, beginning at 6 p.m.

The winner of Thursday’s match-up will move on to face Section Three champion Solanco in the Quarterfinal Round at 7 p.m. in Quarryville.

Elco (10-3 Section Three, 17-4 overall) comes in with one of the better records in the L-L League and should be a difficult match-up for the Lady Mounts. The Raiders’ lone three league losses are to Lampeter-Strasburg and a pair of games vs. undefeated Section Four champion Lancaster Catholic.

The Raiders feature a balanced offensive attack led by sophomore Amanda Smith (11.25 points per game) and senior Ryelle Shuey (10.8). Julia Nelson also has 32 points and four treys in the three games prior to Tuesday’s game at Lancaster Catholic.

Elco averages 50.4 points per game and gives up just 35.6 on average. The Raiders have won five out of six games heading into Thursday’s showdown with Ephrata.

“They are a really good team that can get up and down the court very quickly,” Ephrata Coach Brian Cerullo said of the Raiders. “They have a couple bigs who rebound and get the ball out to their guards, and they are gone. They spread it out on offense so they are difficult to defend. They have a couple people that can hit some outside shots so they are going to be as tall order for us.”

But Cerullo, in his first year as coach, likes what his team has accomplished. The Lady Mounts seized control of second place in the section following their win over Warwick last week. Heading into Tuesday’s regular-season finale vs. E-town, the Lady Mounts had won four-straight games to clinch second place.

Ephrata is led offensively by junior guard Gabi Gerola-Hill, who averages 10.5 points per game. Gerola-Hill has canned 27 three-points on the season, three more than fellow long distance threat senior Kandice Liebl.

Ephrata is scoring at a 37.5 points per game clip and has allowed an average of 42 points per contest.

“I’m proud that we were able to make the playoffs,” Cerullo said. “That’s something to build on not only for the rest of this season but next year as well. We’ll always look back and say, ‘what if we could have got this game or that game,’ but in general it’s our first year as a coaching staff and we’re changing the culture a little bit, and that’s something to build upon.”

Despite competing in the L-L League playoffs, the Lady Mounts are on the outside looking in for the District Three playoffs. Heading into Tuesday’s match-up with E-town, Ephrata was ranked 16 in Class 6A, and only the top 12 teams qualify. More than likely, their season will be complete following the L-L playoffs.

As for Tuesday’s game against the section champion Bears, Ephrata fell behind early and tried to play catch-up the rest of the way but never could get in gear offensively as E-town earned a 56-36 decision over the Lady Mounts, snapping their four-game win streak.

E-town jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first quarter and led 21-6 after eight minutes. The Bears maintained that distance the rest of the night en route to the win.

“We dug ourselves a huge hole in the first quarter,” Cerullo said. “We just couldn’t get any shots to fall. We were down 13-2 at one point and ever since that first quarter we had to just keep trying to fight back. Unfortunately, we dug too big of a hole.”

The Bears’ Marena Lonardi led all scorers with a game-high 25 points. Carly Sedun added nine points while Sydney Pierson and Ainsley Raybold both chipped in with eight each for the winners.

Gerola-Hill paced Ephrata with 15 points, which included three treys. Carly Holochuck and Liebl added eight points each in the loss.

In addition to Tuesday’s contest, Ephrata also was in action Monday night at home in a crossover contest against McCaskey.

With the score tied 13-13 after one, the Lady Mounts seized control in the second quarter with a 17-9 run. they continued to pour it on and pulled away with a 68-39 victory.

Gerola-Hill led a trio of Ephrata players to reach double figures as she scored a season-high 23 points. Jocelyn Umana added a career-high 17 points while Liebl canned four treys on her way to a 12-point performance.

Malia Taylor hit three 3’s and scored a season-high 19 points for the Red Tornado, who fell to 0-21 on the year.

Last Thursday at Conestoga Valley, Ephrata out-scored the Buckskins 16-8 in the third quarter to key a come-from-behind 35-29 victory.

Gerola-Hill led the way with 10 points for the Lady Mounts. Hannah Plowmaker chipped in with eight points for the winners, while CV was paced by Kenzie Reed, who dropped in 11.

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