Lorah stands tall

By on February 11, 2015

 Her free throws send Cocalico to semifinals

Cocalico’s Jasa Lorah sinks one of her key free throws down the stretch Tuesday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Cocalico’s Jasa Lorah sinks one of her key free throws down the stretch Tuesday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Junior guard Jasa Lorah isn’t usually at the top of the score sheet when you look at the results of a Cocalico girl’s basketball game. The 5-1 junior guard is more known for her hounding style of defense with a little ball handling thrown in for good measure.

“She’s actually a very good shooter,” said Lady Eagles Coach Tony DiMatteo.

It was a good thing he was right Tuesday night as Cocalico held on to defeat Section Two champ Lebanon 40-39 on the Cedars’ home court in the first round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.

Lorah netted the last two baskets of the third quarter, staking the Lady Eagles to a 31-25 lead going into the final eight minutes. Lebanon pulled within one on two occasions midway through the final frame at 31-30 and again at 33-32 to set up a see-saw finish.

Jayden Shellehamer’s lay-up with 3:20 to go gave the Cedars their first lead since the three-minute mark of the third period. Cocalico’s high scorer Emily White (17) answered right back on a pass from Lorah. Lebanon freshman center Alexis Hill (7 pts, 6 blocks) tipped in a miss and the lead had changed again.

After Emily Fassnacht (4 pts, 8 rebounds) set up White again for the go-ahead bucket, the pressure was directed squarely in Lorah’s lap. And she delivered, sinking three of six foul shots to make it 40-36 after Lebanon was forced to foul. Two of those misses were snared by White, as Lebanon could not touch the ball until 10 seconds left.

A desperation heave from the far corner by Madison Hartman (her only points of the game) glanced off the backboard and into the net for three, prompting a roar from the home crowd. But, with one second to go, the Lady Eagles in-bounded the ball and the game was over.

The win earns Cocalico (17-6) a semifinal match up Thursday (7 p.m.) at Warwick with Section One runner-up Cedar Crest, a 68-62 winner Tuesday over Section Four Champ Lancaster Catholic. This will be the first meeting of the season between the two squads.

“They were playing off me, so I needed to shoot,” remarked Lorah after the game. “After I hit the first one, the crowd pumped me up.”

She finally had a chance to talk about her specialty (defense) as the Lady Eagles once again held an opponent under their season average.

“You have to play defense for 32 minutes,” said Lorah. “Defense wins games. If we miss a shot, we have to get the ball back.”

Fassnacht agreed that the “D” was the focus of the game plan.

“During practice, the goal was to box out Hill, because she is so athletic,” Fassnacht stated. “Coach said before the game that our intensity would be the key to win this game. We knew it would be a tough one, and we wanted revenge.”

A year ago, Lebanon eliminated Cocalico from the District Three playoffs so the Lady Eagles successfully returned the favor.

And what did DiMatteo think about the low scoring affair?

“That’s exactly where we needed it to be,” he said. “We needed to control the tempo, because they (Lebanon) have some really explosive scorers.”

Junior center Megan Gingrich, who had the bulk of the defensive assignments with Hill, also chipped in on the offensive end scoring nine tough inside points.

Throughout the game, there were 11 lead changes and four ties as this thriller was in doubt until the final 10 seconds.

In addition to the L-L Tourney, Cocalico is scheduled to begin District play Friday night when the 16th ranked Lady Eagles host 17th seed Cedar Cliff in a play-in game, beginning at 7 p.m.

The winner of that game will advance to face Palmyra next Tuesday (7 p.m.) in the first round.

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