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Mounts lose tight games to Solanco, Warwick
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Ephrata entered Tuesday’s game at Solanco, looking to right the ship after suffering three-straight tight losses.
In fact, all of the Mounts’ last six games were decided by nine points or less, and yet they were just 2-4 heading into Tuesday.
Well, they played another tight game, but after the dust settled, this latest one only added to the frustration as the last-place Mules escaped with a 44-42 win over Ephrata.
This one was tight throughout but Solanco, leading by one after three quarters of play, outscored the Mounts 12-11 in the final eight minutes to grab the victory.
Evan Radcliffe led the Mounts (3-9 section, 4-12 overall) with a game-high 13 points while Nathan Zimmerman chipped in with 11. Damon Kreider scored 11 points to lead the Mules (2-10, 3-14).
This past Friday before a packed house in Ephrata, visiting Warwick took the game to overtime with a late clutch three-pointer, then put it away at the foul line to earn a huge 54-50 crossover win.
After Warwick’s Tyler Morris bombed the key three-pointer to tie the game with 33 seconds to go in regulation, Matt Engle took over in the extra session. The senior guard gave the Warriors the lead with a field goal at the 2:58 mark then made 5-of-6 free throws over the final 1:44 to clinch the victory.
It was Ephrata’s sixth-straight tight game. And another frustrating night that ended in a close Mountaineer loss.
"This is getting old," Ephrata Coach Jason Coletti said of his team’s third-straight loss. "Moral victories are way in the past. Maybe at the beginning of this year, but not now. You are in a playoff race. You got these guys at home…It’s just a matter of them wanting to do it. It’s a matter of toughness. We have to get tougher."
Warwick led 20-17 at the half and 31-30 after three quarters, but the Mounts refused to wilt in front of the near-capacity crowd. Junior guard Brady Sipe led the way for Ephrata down the stretch with 10 of his 13 points in the fourth.
Sipe nailed a jumper just a minute into the period to give the Mounts the lead at 32-31. But a 6-0 spurt by the Warriors gave them a 37-32 advantage with 4:26 to play.
However, Sipe drained a trey the next trip down the court to cut the deficit to two (37-35) before the teams traded scores to make it 39-37 Warwick with 3:13 to go.
It stayed that way until the 1:56 mark when Sipe nailed another three to give the Mounts a one-point lead (40-39). Then, Ephrata’s Aaron Hubbard’s steal led to a Sipe lay-up with 1:34 remaining and the Mounts had a little breathing room, up 42-39.
K’shawn Mickens was then off target on a potential game-tying three ball on Warwick’s next possession, and Sipe was eventually sent to the line in a one-and-one situation that could have iced it with 51 seconds to go.
However, Sipe missed the foul shot and the Warriors went down looking for the equalizer. After working the ball around, Morris found himself alone near the left corner. The senior raised up and drained the clutch three-pointer to tie the game at 42-42 and send the game into the OT.
"We had a two-point lead with two minutes to go, and we had three possessions where we shot threes and we probably could have gotten to the basket," Warwick Coach Jeff Landis said. "But it’s kind of who we are, and it allowed Morris to take that shot down three to tie it up."
Coletti said his team made a fundamental mistake in leaving the Warwick senior open at such a critical time in the game.
"Up three with (less than a minute) to go, and you need one stop, you got to guard the three-point line," he said. "We left (Morris) wide open and he nailed it. That just can’t happen there."
It did, and the Warriors gutted it out in the OT thanks to Engle.
"Matt struggled in the third quarter so we took him out," Landis said. "But we put him back in, he bounced back and made some great plays. If we can get him to the line at the end we are pretty confident he is going to make them."
He did, and Warwick was able to fend off Ephrata.
Despite the loss, Coletti was pleased with Sipe’s play down the stretch. The Warriors held Radcliffe, who was averaging more than 20 point a game through the last seven contests, to just nine points, so it was big to get a lift from his junior guard.
"Brady’s one who is not shy for the moment," Coletti said. "He had a couple big threes and drove the ball to the basket. He’s come a long way. He’s a scrappy player and I’m glad he’s just a junior and will be back."
Hubbard led all scorers with 19 to go along with Sipe’s 13 for Ephrata. Engle and Morris both scored 13 points to lead Warwick while Mickens chipped in with 10 in the win. More MOUNTS, page B-2