Knocked out of the dance

By on February 12, 2014

Cocalico’s Tucker Lescoe (4) is guarded closely by Lancaster Mennonite’s Matt Hess during Tuesday’s playoff action. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Cocalico’s Tucker Lescoe (4) is guarded closely by Lancaster Mennonite’s Matt Hess during Tuesday’s playoff action. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Cocalico played well at times Tuesday night in the opening round of the L-L League playoffs at Lancaster Mennonite. Unfortunately, the Eagles had a few key miscues at both ends in the fourth quarter of a tight game.

And it was enough to send them home for the season.

Leading 44-41 heading to the fourth, the host Blazers out-scored Cocalico 22-12 in the final eight minutes to secure a 66-53 victory over the Eagles.

Offensively, Mennonite got to the rim and the line in the fourth quarter, cashing in on several easy hoops while shooting 10-for-15 from the charity stripe. At the other end of the court, the Mennonite defense did a good job making it tough on Cocalico sniper Tucker Lescoe, who scored 18 points but had to work for every single one of them.

With the win, the Blazers (18-4) advance to Wednesday’s semifinals where they’ll take on Cedar Crest (20-4)&tstr; a 70-52 winner over Northern Lebanon Tuesday&tstr; at Warwick, beginning at 6 p.m. The other semifinal will pit Manheim Central (21-2) vs. Lebanon (17-6) at Annville-Cleona, beginning at 6 p.m.

Back to Tuesday where Cocalico Coach Travis Wealand said his team was “a little off” in the fourth quarter.

“We hit a bad spell,” Wealand said. “We had a couple turnovers and it kind of changed things. They got some momentum. and we didn’t make some shots we normally make. There was a possession here and there when the ball went their way, and you can’t have those spells in playoffs. You got to play a solid game the whole way through, and Mennonite did a better job than we did tonight.”

Cocalico’s three-point shooting kept it in the game early as the Eagles connected on eight of their first 12 trey attempts. The Eagles held a 19-18 advantage after one, and maintained that one-point cushion (32-31) at the half.

It was 41-40 Cocalico late in the third when Mennonite’s Darris Bair converted a lay-up to give his team a one-point advantage. Then after a Cocalico turnover, Zach Lehman’s deuce gave the Blazers a three-point lead heading tot he fourth.

Cocalico still appeared to be in decent shape, but couldn’t get going at the offensive end in the fourth. Mennonite began the period on a 7-2 run with Matt Hess and Bair (15 points) converting lay-ups before Lehman’s putback with 6:07 to play gave his team a 50-43 advantage.

“They have a couple guys who can get to the basket,” Wealand said. “We were focused on that tonight. Unfortunately, we helped a little too much and gave some easy looks underneath. They executed their gameplan, credit to Mennonite.”

The Eagles were still within striking distance after Spencer Moser (20 points) cut the deficit to 51-45 on a drive to the basket with 4:39 to go. But Cocalico never got closer again as the Blazers made enough of their foul shots to close it out.

Julian Collazo had 17 points to pace the Blazers while Lehman added 14 in the win.

Cocalico just missed qualifying for the District Three playoffs, so the Eagles, who beat out Ephrata for second place in Section Two, closed out their season at 12-11.

Despite the loss, Wealand was pleased with the overall season, considering his team started the year 0-4 and had to play without an injured Lescoe for the first 10 games.

“I’m really proud of this group of guys,” Wealand said. “We had a lot of adversity. At the beginning of the year, things were not 100 percent for us. The guys are high quality guys, great character guys, and they worked hard. I think the experience a lot of the younger guys gained paid off in the beginning of the year, even though we didn’t win a lot of games. But that allowed us to have the experience to win the games that we did in order to make it to the playoffs. It was a good season.”

Cocalico wrapped up regular season play late last week with a pair of games.

Last Thursday at Solanco, the Eagles wrapped up second place in Section Two with a convincing 65-36 victory over the host Mules.

boxscore2Lescoe scored a game-high 24 points while Dante Haines chipped in with 12 as the Eagles pulled away early and closed out section play with a 9-7 record. Cocalico finished in a tie with Ephrata but won the league playoff berth over the Mounts based on winning two head-to-head games against Ephrata.

In addition to Thursday’s game, Cocalico also was in action Friday evening in a non-league contest at Conrad Weiser.

The game was tied 31-31 before the Scouts scored the final six points of the third quarter to grab the lead for good en route to a 54-43 victory over the Eagles.

Dexter Jordan and Andy Orr both scored 13 points to pace the Scouts (15-6). Cocalico’s Moser led all scorers with 17 points while Lescoe added 12.

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