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Fourth-quarter rally lifts Cocalico over Warwick
By: BRUCE MORGAN Review Staff, Staff Writer
Between them, the Warwick and Cocalico girls combined to shoot 49 foul shots Monday.
The Lady Warriors thought they should have had two more at the end of the game.
Trailing by one in the final seconds, Meredith Michel and Morgan Haines both got rebounds underneath the basket and were denied. Warwick’s coaches and players believed they were fouled, but the officials’ whistles remained silent.
And with that, the Lady Eagles’ comeback from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth quarter was complete, as they held on to beat Warwick 43-42 in a nail-biter in a Section One-Two crossover game in Lititz.
"We knew it was going to be tough coming in here. (Warwick) hadn’t won and they battled us last year," Cocalico coach Tony DiMatteo said. "We knew they wanted to win at their place and it took our girls awhile to match their intensity. That fourth quarter, we did."
While Cocalico improved to 3-2 overall (1-1 Section Two), the loss dropped the Lady Warriors to 0-5 (0-2 Section One). But they were tasting their first victory of the season as senior Greta Weidemoyer launched a mid-range jumper from the right wing with just :02 to go. Cocalico’s Megan Gingrich blocked the shot, and then Michel and Haines both got their hands on the ball, but the game ended with the Lady Eagles’ preserving the one-point victory.
"Morgan got it and was fouled at the end and there was no call," Warwick coach Amy Derr said. "I totally disagree (with the non-call). Blow the whistle. Even at the end of the game, we won a game like that last with Greta ending up on the line. Put a kid on the line when a foul is right at that last second. I mean, everybody on our side thought it was obvious. That’s just a downer. It really is."
It was obvious in the opening 12 minutes that if Warwick was going to have a chance, they were going to have to right the ship from another slow start out of the gates. With Cocalico’s defense forcing 10 of Warwick’s 25 turnovers in the first stanza, and senior Rebecca Grube dropping in a pair of deuces, the Lady Eagles took a 12-4 lead after one. Gingrich added four of her team-high 12 points in the period, including two free throws.
That advantage ballooned to 18-6 when sophomore guard Natalie Sukanick buried a short jumper with 3:37 left in the half, and with Warwick shooting just 2-of-16 from the field up to that point, the Lady Warriors were staring at an uphill climb.
"For whatever reason, I feel like this is the second game in a row we’re scoring (too little in the first quarter)," said Derr, whose squad trailed Lebanon 13-2 after one last Friday. "Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s nerves. We go over the offenses and what to do if it’s a zone (defense) or if it’s a man. We knew that we could expect all kinds of stuff from Cocalico. I told the girls, ‘Be ready for whatever.’"
Finally, senior Madi Derr, who led all scorers with 14 points, knocked down the first of her four treys and the Lady Warriors put together a half-ending 12-4 run, closing their deficit to 20-16 going to the locker room.
"They were beating us to every loose ball, they were hungry, they were setting great screens, hitting 3-pointers — Derr did a great job," DiMatteo said. "She was hitting, she’s a good player."
Sophomore Alexa Mohler, who finished with nine points, went 6-of-6 at the foul line in the quarter.
"Alexa is doing amazing," Derr said. "She’s doing a lot of good things out there. I see that smart player coming out in her more and more every game."
Cocalico still led 24-19 with 5:12 left in the third following a putback by Kristen Boyer, who had a monster game on the boards with a game-high 21 rebounds. She finished with nine points and fell just one point shy of a double-double. But Derr’s triple and Weidemoyer’s 4-of-4 effort at the foul line fueled a 17-1 run by Warwick, capped by Kate Martin’s steal and layup with 7:30 to go in the fourth quarter.
"The first quarter, we played defense. The fourth quarter, we played defense. In between, we didn’t play any defense," DiMatteo remarked. "That was it. And I told the girls, ‘You can’t turn it on and off. We’ve got to play consistent. You never get up too high. You never get too low. You play the same way, regardless of how well you think you are playing or how poorly.’ The first quarter and the fourth quarter, we were up there high and I said, ‘Stay the course.’ The second and the third, we were down and I said, ‘Stay the course.’ We fought through it."
Cocalico’s press defense, which forced several WHS turnovers over the next couple of minutes, was a big reason they were able to fight through it. Sukanick knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1 to start a 12-0 run by the Lady Eagles, which put the visitors up 37-36 with 5:58 left. Boyer was 5-of-6 at the foul line, with seven total points, in that stretch.
"They were killing us on the foul line," DiMatteo said of Warwick. "They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds, so by pressing them, we stopped them from getting into their offense, we got some turnovers, and we got to the foul line in the fourth quarter."
They also got Derr, Martin and Michael into foul trouble, but Derr’s 3-pointer from the right elbow put Warwick back in front 39-37 with 5:38 remaining.
Gingrich’s layup tied it at 39-all, and then after Michel sank one of two freebies with 3:46 to go to make it 40-39, Cocalico’s Taylor Esterly and Gingrich combined to 3-of-4 at the stripe on back-to-back trips to put the Lady Eagles up 42-40.
Michel’s two free throws tied it and then Warwick appeared to be in the driver’s seat when Weidemoyer grabbed the rebound on a missed shot by Cocalico’s Emily White with :29 remaining. But as Warwick pushed the ball up the floor, Gingrich stole a pass and got to the stripe as Derr fouled out of the game.
"It changes quick, doesn’t it? This game was unbelievable," DiMatteo said. "We were up, then we were down and then we were down even more. And then we came back. I told the girls, ‘You just can’t give up. Every possession, you’ve got to try to make something happen,’ and Megan did and we got the ball and we made our foul shots. That’s the bottom line."
After Gingrich buried the second of her two free throws, putting the Lady Eagles up 43-42 with :16 to go, Warwick still had time for one final possession.
It wasn’t meant to be for the Lady Warriors, however.
"We told the kids, ‘We’re in it together. We win as a team, we lose as a team,’" Derr said. "And like coach (Fred Gerfin) said in the locker room, ‘Are we getting better? We are getting better.’ We’re not there at that full game yet. And in this case, the last two games, that first quarter just not scoring right off the bat is killing us. But they’re not letting up and that’s good. Everybody played hard until the end."
It didn’t go unnoticed by DiMatteo, either.
"We played them in the summer league and they’re extremely young," he said. "And from the first time we played them to the second time, we saw them get better. Amy’s working hard with them and by the end of the year, I wouldn’t want to play them because the girls are good kids, they’re young and they’re learning. And unfortunately, they’re learning during the games."
This past Friday at home, the Lady Eagles dropped a 41-32 loss to Section One power Manheim Township.
Leading 18-14 at the half, the Streaks gradually pulled away in the second half for the hard-fought victory.
Marissa Gingrich scored 13 points to pace Cocalico. More COCALICO GIRLS, page B-6