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Hershey gets defensive in 53-27 win over Lady Mounts
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
The 2012-13 girls basketball season at Ephrata will go down as one of the top 10 in its long history.
Unfortunately, a year in which they overcame the loss of three key players to injury on their way to winning the Section Two title, has come to a close.
Tuesday night in the first round of District Three play at Hershey, the Lady Mounts succumbed to a suffocating Hershey defense that produced 21 turnovers, and an effective inside-outside game by the Trojans that
In the end, Division One guard Victoria Blackburn (Scared Heart) and 5-11 center Libby Nolan both scored 17 points apiece to lead Hershey to an impressive 53-27 victory in a battle between the eighth and ninth seeded teams in AAAA.
With the win, Hershey (20-3) now advances to Friday’s quarterfinal match-up at Carlisle, where the Trojans will face top-seeded Dover, a winner over governor Mifflin in Tuesday’s first round.
As for Ephrata, the Lady Mounts close out the season at 18-7.
"It’s not the way I wanted to end the year but you got to look at the big picture," Ephrata Coach Mike Garman said following the season-ending loss. "It was just a great group of young ladies who came together. They were faced with adversity and found a way to overcome.
"Right now it’s hard, but in a couple days as I look back upon it and I look at these individuals, they are just great kids. and to win a section championship is a tremendous feat. And to get into league playoffs and Districts…I would have liked to have done better, but I think it’s something you have to learn. Winning a section is great but when you do get into the post-season, and I have to do a better job with this, you got to get to another level where they can play and compete."
Defensively, Hershey tried to pressure every pass and doubled on the post, where the Lady Mounts do much of their damage. The Trojans, who did not make the Mid-Penn League, had two weeks to get ready for Ephrata, and it showed.
In addition to their 21 turnovers, the Lady Mounts shot just 9-for-32 from the field. Senior forward Sarah Haddon did score 10 points to lead Ephrata, but she earned every one of them.
"That is one of the benefits of not making your league tournament," Hershey Coach Randy Gambelunghe said. "I had a lot of time to prepare for them. I was able to go to the Cocalico-Ephrata game that Friday night, and I had a lot of tape on them so we were able to know their strengths and weaknesses."
"We had a lot of respect for Haddon," he continued. "We decided we were going to guard her with our best defender, so we wanted a good ‘on-ball’ defender. And then when she went on the post we fronted her and had someone behind. (Ephrata point guard Kelly) Liebl is a really nice player also. We felt as much pressure as we could put on her, that would hurt them a little bit in getting the ball on the post."
Hershey opened up a quick 6-2 lead out of the gates on a pair of Victoria Blackburn threes. Ephrata did cut it to 6-4 before Nolan scored the next six Hershey points. Haddon did nail a three-pointer to keep the Lady Mounts close at 12-7 heading to the second.
In the second, Hershey’s defense began to take affect. After two free throws by Nolan doubled the score at 14-7, Blackburn turned one of her five, first-half steals into a lay-up at the other end to put the Trojans up by nine.
Ephrata did cut it to 16-10 on a Kenzie Horst trey with 6:05 to go, but Hershey closed out the period forcing six Ephrata turnovers and outscoring the Lady Mounts, 19-4 to grab a commanding 26-14 half-time advantage.
"Hershey is a nice team," Garman said. "They are very athletic, extremely athletic, and I think it caused us some trouble as far as match-ups are concerned. They are very quick, and the Blackburn girl was very good."
Hershey’s defense continued to turn into transition baskets early in the third. The Trojans went on a quick 7-0 spurt to start the third that for all intents and purposes put it out of reach. Blackburn punctuated the mini-run with her third-and-final three of the game to make it 33-14.
The Trojans led 35-18 after three before pulling away in the fourth quarter for the lopsided victory to end Ephrata’s year.
"I think any time you can take a group of young ladies, who have worked hard at trying to become better as a group, as a team, and a group of girls that respects one another, you have a chance to be successful" Garman said when asked to sum up the season. "There was a common thread there that they were determined and there was no way they were going to lose that section championship. I think you saw that. They refused to lose, and that’s just something you have inside of you. And these girls had it." More LADY MOUNTS, page B-4