Mounts spoil Fisher’s return to Ephrata

By on January 17, 2018
Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez (left) converts the easy lay-up with Manheim Central defenders Connor Hostetter (22) and Jake Novak (21) trailing the play. Photo by Dwight Palm

Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez (left) converts the easy lay-up with Manheim Central defenders Connor Hostetter (22) and Jake Novak (21) trailing the play. Photo by Dwight Palm

There was an extra buzz in the building Friday night when Ephrata welcomed back former Coach Charlie Fisher and his up-and-coming Manheim Central squad.

But while Fisher’s return was the main topic of conversation, the bigger deal was the fact that the Mounts really needed to win to draw closer to the Barons and keep any chance alive of catching first-place L-S.

That was the message Coach Jon Treese stressed to his team, and they responded.

With the Barons charging hard down the stretch, the Mounts never wavered. Ephrata grew a tight 37-35 fourth-quarter lead to five points late before Brad DaBella’s lay-up with 37 seconds left finally sealed the 47-40 victory.

DaBella led the way for the Mounts, scoring a game-high 15 points while Xavian Rodriguez contributed 12 as Ephrata (4-3 section, 10-4 overall) drew closer to the Barons (4-2, 5-6) and spoiled Fisher’s return in the process.

“They are great kids but they are kids, and even as adults there is no way to ignore it,” Treese said when asked how he felt his team approached the game against their former coach. “It’s there, so your options are you talk about it all of the time or you talk about it along with what the goal is for the night. And that’s kind of how we handled it. Whatever emotions you are feeling, use it as motivation, use it as a reason to try to be extra focused or try to play within yourself. Other than that, keep in mind we are here in the section, they are above us so more than anything we need to win this basketball game. They responded really well. They are a mature group, and that’s a credit to them.”

This game was close throughout as Ephrata led 15-13 after one before MC’s Drew Mummau tied it at 25-25 with a three pointer at the buzzer heading to the half.

However, things actually turned after the Barons shot out to a quick 30-25 lead in the first minute of the third on a field goal by Connor Hostetter and a follow-up trey from Carson Brenize.

With the Mounts suddenly trailing by five, they looked to punch it inside. And it paid dividends the rest of the night.

Rodriguez posted up twice for key points in the paint before DaBella scored a pair of field goals inside to draw the Mounts even at 33-33 midway through the third.

“We know we can get rolling from the outside, but when we don’t get those outside shots we can just pound it inside and keep working,” said senior Sam Cable, who scored eight on the night. “We thought we had an advantage on the inside so we kept going to it and it worked for us.”

“Credit to them for adjusting, and they started executing,” Fisher said of the Mounts. “They got a couple quick ones and we just got lost. They got a couple freebies…but they stayed composed. They fell down by five and kept their calm. Those seniors worked really hard and they won a ballgame. You got to give them credit. They beat us.”

Ephrata would eventually take the 37-35 lead into the fourth, but a conventional three-point play by DaBella in the opening minute surged the advantage to 40-35.

Central did hang close, however, as Chase Marquette got his team to within four (44-40) with a bucket with 3:52 to go. But with the Barons in striking distance, shots that were falling early didn’t in the waning moments as MC went 0-for-5 and didn’t score a single point the rest of the way.

“I thought our guys executed down the stretch…I really did,” Fisher said. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. I was very happy with our guys. You just got to put the ball in the basket. We got to 30 quick and the last 14 minutes we scored 10 points. You can’t win a high school basketball game scoring 10 points in 14 minutes. It was a two possession game until the end and we just couldn’t do it to seal the deal.”

Fisher, who was only at Ephrata for two years but turned a two-win team into an L-L and District Three playoff squad, said he treated Friday just as any other game.

“It was cool,” he said. “It’s kind of weird but you get so into the heat of the season that it just kind of pops up on you. But we gameplanned. I mean, my guys have no connection to Ephrata so you just, I know it’s cliché, but you go through it business as usual. We had a gameplan and we were right there.”

Hostetter led the Barons with 15 points while Mummau added nine and Brenize eight. Despite the loss, Fisher is excited where his team is positioned heading into the second half of section play.

“We are in second place through one cycle and we just got to take care of business,” he said. “We are in a good spot. We just played two good teams (Ephrata and L-S) in a row. You got to take care of business at home and we have a home game on Tuesday, and then we go from there.”

As for the Mounts, Treese said his team will look to build upon Friday’s big win as it enters the stretch run of the season.

“We had that one bad week with Garden Spot and Cocalico, which really put us in a position where we are basically looking at it being a battle every night for us to have a shot to be there at the end,” he said. “I do feel that we were really dysfunctional in the L-S game in taking care of the basketball, and I feel like last night (a 63-47 win over Solanco) was a step forward. Tonight was a good step forward so if we keep improving and working on the things we can get better at, we could really control our own destiny in the section.”

Speaking of Thursday’s win over Solanco, Ephrata built a 34-20 lead by the break and cruised the rest of the way en route to an easy 63-47 victory over the visiting Mules (0-6, 0-9).

Rodriguez led the way with a game-high 20 points while DaBella added 17 in the win.

Up next, Ephrata will hit the road Thursday to face Elizabethtown, and will be in New Holland Friday to battle Garden Spot. The Mounts will have a non-league road tilt Monday at Lebanon before returning home to face Cocalico next Tuesday.

 

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