Lady Mounts dump Mares, clinch Section Two title

By on February 4, 2016

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For the third time in the last eight years, the Ephrata girls basketball team found a way to win Section Two of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. They did so Tuesday night in Quarryville, besting Solanco by a score of 60-32.

The Lady Mounts (11-5 league, 13-9 overall) led from the start as senior Kay Liebl found junior Caroline Stauffer for a short jump shot 10 seconds into the game, paving the way for what would be a net-cutting celebration after the final buzzer.

Stauffer set the tone, scoring 12 first quarter points as the Lady Mounts ran away from the Mares (5-11, 7-15) for a 15-0 lead after the first stanza and never looked back.

“It’s truly special to win a championship,” said Ephrata head coach Mike Garman, who was still holding onto the remains of the net 40 minutes after the game. “I don’t care what the record is. It’s a life-time memory, especially for the seniors.”

“Losing the section last year to Lebanon left a bad taste in our mouths,” said senior Kenzie Horst, who netted six points while leading the team with nine rebounds Tuesday. “We set a goal to win the section at the beginning of the year. We wanted to show everyone what we’re made of.”

Ephrata won its last seven regular season games on the way to the title, a feat that didn’t escape Horst or her coach.

“I think we all had the same mindset,” described Horst. “The doubts were gone, and everything else fell into place.”

“I wasn’t sure where this team was going to go,” added Garman. “Slowly, but surely, things came together. The Warwick game (a 52-33 win on Jan. 15) got us going. No one expected us to win that one by 20.”

The Lady Mounts were led offensively and defensively by senior point guard Liebl, whose career high 23 points and eight steals made this win the icing on the cake.

“It’s certainly something special,” Liebl said. “I’m not much of an offensive player, (6.71 per game average going into the game) but it means a lot.”

Stauffer ended the night with 18 points (16 in first half), five rebounds, three assists and has averaged 20 points per game over the last four contests.

“I thought it was important that we got the ball into the post early,” commented Stauffer. “The defense also led to some easy buckets.”

When asked about her hot streak and the difference from both last year and earlier in the current season, Stauffer had the following response.

“For one thing, my mindset has changed,” she said. “I’m more intense and confident in my game. I’m also more aggressive at creating easier shots.”

The Lady Mounts also held the advantage in shooting percentage, cashing in on 25-of-51 shots while holding the Mares to 12-of-42. Ephrata also outrebounded Solanco 38-29 and was never in foul trouble.

“Any time you coach, you want to be aggressive,” said Garman, when asked about the balancing act of aggressive play when depth and foul trouble are a concern. “You have to help each other, move your feet and create the right angles. If you rebound and play defense, you’re going to be in every game.”

Up next for Ephrata is the quarterfinals of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs as the Lady Mounts host Lebanon Catholic next Monday. Ephrata is on the bubble as far as the District Three playoffs are concerned. After last night’s win, the Lady Mounts were seeded 21st in girls AAAA. Only the top 20 advance but other teams still have games remaining before Thursday’s deadline so there still is a chance Ephrata could sneak in.

Garman was asked if he had a scouting report on Lebanon Catholic (15-5), which finished in second place in Section Four.

“I really don’t know a lot about them,” noted Garman. “They have a 1000-point scorer who is a nice player. We scrimmaged them last summer, but didn’t have some of our players. It’s nice to be at our place.”

“We learned a lot from three years ago, when we beat Cocalico to win the section, then lost to Elco in the League playoffs,” Garman continued. “We celebrated that (win over Cocalico) too much. That won’t happen again.”

In addition to Tuesday’s contest, the Lady Mounts went a perfect 3-for-3 this past week in other games, including last Wednesday’s huge 43-38 victory on the road at Elizabethtown.

In a game that swung the advantage in Section Two to Ephrata, the Lady Mounts used a late surge to seal the win.

Ephrata led by eight going to the final period, but an 8-0 run by the Bears tied it at 38-38. Brittany Ritter hit a huge three pointer down the stretch before Stauffer iced it with a drive in the final 30 seconds of play.

Stauffer led all scorers with 20 points. Horst added 10 point for Ephrata.

Rachel Sweger had 17 for the Bears.

Last Thursday at home, Ephrata jumped out early on visiting CV and coasted to an eventual 45-33 victory. Stauffer and Horst once again led the way with 20 and 10 points respectively.

And Saturday at home in a non-league tilt vs. Exeter, The Lady Mounts jumped out to a huge 29-6 half-time lead and were never threatened en route to a 55-27 decision.

Stauffer scored a game-high 23 points while Horst added 12 for the winners.

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