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Mounts take ‘step back’ in 59-50 loss to Solanco
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
One step forward, two steps back.
That is the plight of the Ephrata boys basketball team, which after earning their first win of the season in an impressive 55-53 victory over Penn Manor last Monday, the Mounts followed up with a pair of disappointing league losses, including a 59-50 setback to Solanco at home Friday night.
Wednesday’s loss at Township came on the road against a traditionally strong Blue Streaks’ squad. That one was understandable.
Friday’s, however, was a head scratcher. What appeared to be a winnable home game against a fellow one win team in Solanco, turned into a game filled with turnovers and missed opportunities for Ephrata (1-3 section, 1-6 overall).
"It’s a step back for us," Ephrata Coach Jason Coletti said of Friday’s loss. "And Wednesday night (vs. Township) was a step back too. Wednesday we felt we were the better team, eventhough Township has a great program over the years. But we let one get away there, and then to come out and do that tonight was bad. It was a poor performance, which is very disappointing."
Perhaps the most disappointing thing for Coletti was the fact that on a rare night when the Mounts actually had a height advantage over its opponent (with 6-2 forwards Nate Zimmerman and Evan Radcliffe roaming the middle), his team rarely punched it inside, opting instead for too many shots from behind the arc.
"I told them before the game that (we need to) go inside to Evan , go inside to Zimmy…," Coletti said. "We shot five three-pointers out of the first seven to eight possessions. We keep telling them we are not going to live and die by that. You can’t do it. They look good for awhile but you can’t prolong it."
It looked good early as Zimmerman (9 points) made two threes early with the latter coming in transition after the sophomore made a pair of blocks at the other end. That gave Ephrata a 10-7 lead with 3:44 to go in the first. However, the Mounts went 0-for-7 on their final seven possessions of the quarter and were out-scored 6-0 in that span as the Mules (1-3, 2-6) grabbed a 13-10 lead after one.
Radcliffe, who led Ephrata with 14 points on the night, did get the first four points of the second quarter as the Mounts regained the lead (14-13). However, a three-point play by the Mules’ Damon Kreider, who enjoyed a season-high 25 points, put his team back on top.
Solanco then built upon the lead, going on a 9-3 spurt to up the advantage to 25-17 before two late field goals by senior reserve Eric Showalter (6 points) cut it to 25-22 at the half.
"I told (Showalter) he was one of the few kids who showed up tonight," Coletti said.
Solanco kept Ephrata at arm’s length through the third, and maintained a slim 43-39 lead after three before finally pulling away in the final period.
After a Radcliffe field goal cut the deficit to just two at the start of the fourth, Ephrata had a chance to grab the lead and perhaps take over after forcing a pair of successive turnovers at the other end. However, the Mounts couldn’t cash in off those Solanco mistakes, and a Kreider field goal kicked off what turned out to be a 13-2 Mules run which pout it out of reach at 56-43 with 1:19 to go.
"I’m very disappointed," Coletti said. "I’m very disappointed in the effort. They stopped listening for whatever reason. There are things we wanted to do and they just didn’t do it. They are kids, and I don’t know why but they just do that some times."
"Effort and listening… That was the biggest disappointment for me tonight," he continued. "I can take losing if you give the effort, but when you (as a coach) literally draw something up in a time out and then they go out there and don’t do what you told them, that’s disappointing. We just have to figure out who is going to lead us in the right direction. They reverted back to their old selves tonight."
In addition to Kreider, Tyler Constein chipped in with 11 points while Zach Leonard added 10 for the Mules. Aaron Hubbard added 14 for the Mounts in the loss.
Last Wednesday at Manheim Township, Ephrata was outscored 29-17 in the middle two periods as the host Streaks held on for a 51-43 victory over the Mounts.
Seth Brewer scored 15 points and Tyler Karpinski added 11 to lead the Blue Streaks. Aaron Hubbard took top scoring honors for Ephrata with a team-high 15 points.
In addition to Friday’s contest, Ephrata also was in action Saturday night at home in a non-league contest vs. Palmyra.
Hubbard erupted for a season-high 28 points, which included six three-pointers, but it was not enough as Palmyra raced out to a 34-17 half-time lead and held on for the 68-57 victory.
Evan Radcliffe added 11 points for Ephrata while Palmyra (4-3)had three players in double figures, led by Adam Newhard’s 22 points.
As for Cocalico, the Eagles continued their struggles as of late as they dropped their third-straight league game in a 71-60 loss at home to defending section champion Elizabethtown.
The Bears, who are alone in first place in Section Two with a 4-0 league mark (6-1 overall), got 24 points from Lucas Jewell and 23 from Tyler Koser, outscored Cocalico 17-3 in the second period to key the victory.
Oliver Denlinger nailed five three-points to finish with a season-high 21 to lead the Eagles. Tucker Lescoe added 12 for Cocalico (1-3 section, 2-4 overall) in the loss.
Last Wednesday at Hempfield, the host Black Knights led 27-20 at the half before breaking it wide open over the final 16 minutes to claim a 59-38 victory over Cocalico in crossover action.
Drew Johnson scored a game-high 23 points to pace the winners. Zach Walter chipped in with 14 for Hempfield.
Spencer Moser was the lone Eagle in double figures as he finished with a team-high 12 points in the loss.
Cocalico is now idle until Saturday when the Eagles travel to Muhlenberg for a non-league game, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
As for Ephrata, the Mounts once again will host their annual Christmas Tournament, as will the Ephrata girls, which is set for Thursday and Friday.
The tournament opens at 2 p.m. with first-round girls’ action as Lampeter-Strasburg squares off against Governor Mifflin. After the 4 p.m. boys matchup between Donegal and Dallastown, the Ephrata girls will square off against McCaskey at 6 p.m. The night will come to a close with the Ephrata boys hosting Spring Grove at 8 p.m.
Action will resume and conclude Friday with four more games. The schedule will go as follows: girls consolation game, 2 p.m.; boys consolation game, 4 p.m.; girls championship game, 6 p.m.; boys championship game, 8 p.m. More MOUNTS, page B-3