Loss to Warwick dims Ephrata’s playoff hopes

By on January 29, 2014

Ephrata’s Kay Liebl (left) wrestles for the ball with Warwick’s Kasie Sheaffer during Friday’s contest in Lititz. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata’s Kay Liebl (left) wrestles for the ball with Warwick’s Kasie Sheaffer during Friday’s contest in Lititz. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Playing in a league where they are out-sized on most nights, Warwick puts in a lot of extra time on rebounding in practice.

That additional work definitely paid off Friday night at home vs. Ephrata.

Trailing most of the way, the Lady Warriors hit the glass hard and got several key offensive rebounds down the stretch to keep possessions alive. Those boards enabled Warwick to go on an 8-0 run to end the game, overcoming a three-point Ephrata lead to knock off the Lady Mounts, 34-29 in the Section One-Two crossover game.

Freshman Rylee Derr, who came up with three big offensive boards in the final three minutes herself, scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the final quarter, and 16 of her team’s 18 second-half points to lead the way for Warwick, which won its third game in four tries.

“I feel (rebounding) is an area that you constantly have to work at, and I’ve been on the girls big time,” Warwick Coach Amy Derr said after the win. “We are playing in a league where you got the Manheim Township bigs, you got the Hempfield bigs, you got the Cedar Crest height…we got to play bigger than what we are. It’s about getting down, getting a wide base and getting that ball at the right time and maybe getting some over the back calls. That’s critical for us being a small team.”

The win was Warwick’s fifth on the season and gave the Lady Warriors a 4-8 league mark heading into Tuesday’s game.

As for Ephrata, it couldn’t have been a worse result for a team that is desperately trying to hang onto L-L playoff hopes. With the loss, Ephrata fell to 5-7 in Section Two play (8-10 overall) and is now sitting in fourth place, two games behind second place Cocalico, with just four games to play.

“It’s just frustrating,” Ephrata Coach Mike Garman said of the loss. “To allow one girl to score 16 out of 18 points (in the second half) and not to step up and say ‘enough is enough’ is a breakdown of just total team effort. It was more individual, and I think that is something as a team you can’t do. We are not good enough to play as individuals. We have to play together, and (tonight) we didn’t do that.”

Ephrata, despite a rough shooting night, appeared to be in control most of the way Friday. However, the Lady Mounts just could shake away from Warwick.

Kenzie Horst (9 points) and Caroline Stauffer (11 points) scored four points each in the first quarter as Ephrata jumped out to an 11-4 advantage after one quarter of play. However, Warwick was able to make up that Ephrata advantage by the half, thanks to its stingy defense and the three-point shot.

Ephrata turned the ball over six times in the second and managed just five points in the period. Warwick, on the other hand, hit four treys in the period, including two by Alexa Mohler to draw even at 16-16 heading to the break.

The Lady Mounts then re-established control in the third as Horst’s three-point play at the 6:40 mark gave Ephrata a five-point lead at 21-16. However, Derr converted a conventional three-point play with 4:28 to go, and then later drained a trey to cut the deficit to 25-24 heading to the fourth.

Then midway through the final period, a Horst bucket gave the Lady Mounts a 29-26 lead before Derr cut it to one on a lay-up with 3:52 to go.

As it turned out, Horst’s bucket was Ephrata last score of the game. Derr, meanwhile nailed six of eight free throw tries the rest of the way, with two of those foul shots coming after her key offensive boards forced Ephrata to foul.

“You have to give someone like Rylee Derr a lot of credit,” Garman said. “She just willed it upon herself to find a way to put her team on her back and win a basketball game. As a coach, when you have a player like that it’s something special, but you don’t get those very often. That’s just the type of athlete that she is. Here she is as a ninth grader doing that…that’s pretty impressive because that all came from within. She’s just a very fierce competitor. She wanted to win that game, and she made up her mind she was going to find a way to do it.”

Warwick has shown much improvement in recent weeks after an 0-8 start to the season. Asked what the difference is, Coach Derr said her young team is starting to believe.

“I keep telling them, ‘you got to believe it here (pointing to her heart) first,” she said. “Wins got to come from here first. You got to believe it. I believe in them.

“They are a great group of kids who are all trying very hard,” she continued. “We have our weaknesses, and our JVs are really struggling. I tell them all of the time, ‘you say intensity,’ now you got to play that way. Hopefully, they are getting that.”

Ephrata’s Garman said he’s looking for more consistency from his club in its remaining four games, to go along with better team play.

“This year, we’ve been like a yo-yo,” he said. “We took Township to overtime and we beat Lebanon. And the only team in our section to beat Lebanon is us. We beat L-S and Elco too, so we’ve had some good wins, but then to turn around and play like this is just hard. The thing I see from this team is they are just so up and down. You never know from night to night what you are going to get. Is it the fact that they are younger? That definitely has something to do with it.

“What I want to accomplish, starting tomorrow night against E-town, is I want to see a group of individuals go out and play as a team,” he continued. “That’s what I want to see. And if I can see that the next four games, I’ll be very happy. It’s not to say that they haven’t done that. It’s just the consistency has to be better.”

Ephrata did earn a 50-40 victory on the road at Solanco last Thursday evening as a big 19-11 spurt in the second quarter put the Lady Mounts ahead to stay. Kelly Liebl scored a game-high 17 points while Stauffer added 15 in the victory.

In addition to Wednesday’s game against E-town, the Lady Mounts also are home Friday vs. CV and against next Monday vs. Cocalico.

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