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Offensive woes plague Mounts in loss to Knights
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Ephrata played a solid defensive game Monday night, holding visiting Hempfield to just 49 points.
Defense wasn’t the problem.
Offensively, the Mounts continued their season-long struggle and it was the difference in 49-28 loss to the Black Knights.
Already playing without leading scorer Brian Neff (injured shoulder) for the second-straight game, the Mounts shot just 11-of-48 (23 percent) from the field and watched a winnable game turn into a 21-point loss.
"This is one of the years you catch Hempfield on a down year, and they are still 9-7 or whatever, but without Brian, we have even less scoring," Ephrata Coach Jason Coletti said. "We don’t just need one guy to step up and get that 14 or 15 points. We needed two or three guys to do it."
"We missed some shots, and a lot of them were layups," he continued. "Missing those layups just kill you because it ends their run and we are not chasing them every time. But when we shoot and miss and they rebound and go… It adds up as you go along. We’ll just keep working and hopefully some day we’ll put the ball in the basket."
Despite their offensive woes, the Mounts still trailed by just 10 (21-11) at the half. However, Hempfield guard Drew Johnson had a big third quarter, scoring his team’s first 10 points of the second half to balloon the lead to 14 at 36-22 after three.
Johnson would finish with a game-high 22 points to pace the Black Knights (5-5 Section One, 9-7 overall) in this Section One-Two crossover battle.
"(Johnson) got away from us at the start of the third quarter," Coletti said. " He was kind of the difference in the second half. Holding them to 21 points in the first half was pretty impressive. They guys play hard. We just needed to find some other scoring on our end."
Unfortunately, Ephrata (1-9 Section Two, 2-13 overall) never got closer than 14 the rest of the way as the Mounts shot just 3-for-12 in the fourth. Sophomore guards Aaron Hubbard and Roman Heckstall had six points apiece to lead the Mounts in scoring for the night.
With six games remaining on the schedule, Coletti was asked what the goal was for his team the remainder of the year.
"We just want to get better every day in practice," he said. "We are getting better and a lot of guys are getting experience."
"There are some winnable games out there," he continued. "We want to get on a little bit of a role, string a couple wins together for next year’s confidence for sure… just let them know that the hard work will pay off."
Cocalico, meanwhile, broke a five-game losing streak in league play Monday night at home as Oliver Denlinger nailed five three-pointers and scored a season-high 16 points to lead the Eagles to a 49-47 victory over Cedar Crest.
Christian Graybill added 13 points for Cocalico, which improved to 3-7 in Section Two (6-10 overall). Tyler Massar led the Falcons (3-7 Section One, 5-10 overall) with 12 points.
Both Ephrata and Cocalico were on the losing end of crossover games last Thursday evening.
In Lancaster, host McCaskey broke open a tight game in the third, out-scoring the Eagles 19-5 during that quarter to key an eventual 76-54 victory.
Aaron Swinton led the winners with 19 points while Corey Gantz added 16. Cocalico got a big effort from guard Joey Becker, who scored a career-high 22 (including six treys) in the loss. Spencer Moser added 10 points for the Eagles.
In Cornwall Thursday, host Cedar Crest had four players finish in double figures to lead the Falcons past Ephrata, 58-40.
Clay Penchard led the way for Cedar Crest, scoring 17 points. Garrett Levengood and Juan Palmores each chipped in with 12 points while Massar added 10.
Neff led Ephrata with 14 points on the night.
The Mounts also ventured into Lebanon County Friday night for a non-league tilt against Palmyra.
The host Cougars got 17 points from Logan Stovall and 10 from Colby Conway to help their team to a 65-43 win. Jeremy Franck led the Mounts with 11 points on the evening. More MOUNTS, page B-5