In the ‘Nick’ of time: Monteleone’s threes key Eagle win over Mules

By on December 21, 2016
Cocalico's Nick Montelone goes up for the jumper at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, PA on December 16, 2016. KIRK NEIDERMYER | LCW Correspondent Photographer

Cocalico’s Nick Montelone goes up for the jumper at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, PA on December 16, 2016. KIRK NEIDERMYER | LCW Correspondent Photographer

During the pre-season, Cocalico’s first-year Coach Seth Sigman talked about trying to find another scorer to compliment junior sharpshooter Aidan Trynosky.

Monday night, for one night at least, senior Nick Monteleone was that guy.

Early in the fourth with his team leading visiting Solanco by just one at 44-43, Monteleone got sizzling hot when his team needed it most. Monteleone, alone, led a quick 9-0 spurt, sinking three-straight treys on three-straight trips to balloon the lead to 10.

It was what put the Eagles over the hump as they then put the game away at the foul line to preserve an eventual hard-fought 65-55 victory over the Mules.

Monteleone scored 17 points, which included five key three-pointers, while Trynosky matched his effort with 17 as well. Those two, along with Nick Lucky’s 11 points were enough to offset the 23-point night turned in by Solanco’s 6-9 forward Dylan Hastings and key the victory.

“I knew we needed some big plays and (the ball) came to me tonight. I had the hot hand so I just did everything I could,” Monteleone said following the win.

The moment was big for the senior, who twice in the last year dislocated his kneecap. He’s still finding his way with the injury according to Sigman but Monday he looked like his former self.

“Those threes were big,” Sigman said. “He’s been doing it in spurts. He’ll knock down one or two, but tonight, he was old Nick. He’s slowly starting to work his way back, but that’s the old Nick, knocking down threes, an energy guy…that’s what he does.”

Cocalico (2-0 Section Two, 2-4 overall) had it going early, and it may have been a sign of what was to come. On the Eagles’ first two trips of the night, Monteleone knocked down a pair of threes to spur an 18-8 first quarter Cocalico run.

Solanco got a boost of energy from reserve Jon Rush (9 points) early in the second quarter when he entered the game and promptly knocked down two threes of his own to spark a 10-0 Mules’ run to tie the game at 18 apiece.

But thanks to three balls from Trynosky and Austin Harven (9), Cocalico regained the lead and took a 31-27 advantage into the half.

It remained nip-and-tuck throughout the third and into the early stages of the fourth before Monteleone erupted. Following his hot run, Hastings was able to cut the Cocalico lead down to eight with a bucket at the 3:38 mark. But the Eagles made enough free throws (8) the rest of the way to clinch their second-straight win after opening the year 0-4.

“We’ve been through the fire already and have played some good, good teams,” Sigman said of his team’s tough non-league schedule. “We’ve seen just about everything in those four losses…real athletic big, strong teams, and our guys are just like, ‘we are not losing. We are not losing. We are not going to let it happen again,’ and we played with composure down the stretch.”

Monteleone said he and his teammates are a more cohesive unit than they were a few weeks back.

“We started off slow and we weren’t playing together as a team,” he said. “Now we are playing more together as a team and everything is coming together at both ends of the court.”

Particularly at the defensive end, noted Sigman.

“I think defensively we are a little more focused,” he said. “I think we maybe thought we were a little better than we were to start the season and that was a wake-up call. Getting beat by 20 a couple times to start the year, I just think our guys really started digging in on the defensive end in practice. It’s slowly starting to get better and it makes a big difference if you are not giving up easy baskets. I don’t know how often we are going to score in the 60s, so it’s important for us to hunker down.”

Cocalico forced 14 turnovers Monday and by committee did a good enough job to limit Hastings in the middle.

With the Solanco win now in the books, the Eagles can now look forward to Wednesday’s showdown in Ephrata (7:30 p.m.) against a Mounts’ team that has started the season 5-1 and turned a lot of heads.

Both the Eagles and Mounts, as well as L-S and Manheim Central, are tied atop Section Two entering Wednesday’s play.

“They are playing very well and are well-coached,” Sigman said of Ephrata. “(Ephrata Coach) Charlie (Fisher) is doing great things at Ephrata. It’s exciting for us. It’s a good test to see where we are at. We are hoping we are on that level, and I guess we are going to find out.”

“I like going on the road,” he continued. “I like seeing how our guys react to that and see where we are at. We are 2-0 in the section right now so we are right where we wanted to be. Hopefully we can get another one Wednesday. We know it’s a tough test but we are excited to do it.”

Cocalico opened Section Two play last Friday with a 51-41 victory on the road at Garden Spot.

The Eagles jumped out to a 17-12 lead after one quarter and slowly pulled away for the victory. Trynosky led the way with a game-high 22 points while Lucky added 11.

Keontae Nunn paced the Spartans (0-2, 2-3) with 12 points while teammate Brendan Bradley added 11 in the loss.

The Eagles closed out its early non-league slate last Wednesday, dropping a 49-27 decision to visiting Wilson.

The Bulldogs built a 33-21 lead after three quarters before out-scoring the Eagles 16-6 down the stretch to capture the win.

Brian Wright scored a game-high 11 points to pace the Bulldogs (2-2).

Trynosky had six points as high man for the Eagles but struggled through a 2-for-14 shooting night.

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