Pioneers keep rolling, snap Eagles’ five-game win streak

By on January 16, 2019
Cocalico’s Peyton Stetter (1) goes up for a lay-up during last Thursday’s contest in Ephrata. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Peyton Stetter (1) goes up for a lay-up during last Thursday’s contest in Ephrata. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Throughout its latest five-game winning streak, Cocalico got the job done at both ends of the floor.

Defensively, for example, their last two opponents were held in the 30s, which will lead to a win on most nights. Offensively, the Eagles were getting to the hoop, knocking down threes and receiving balanced scoring throughout the lineup.

It is what helped them get back into the Section Three race.

Tuesday night, however, the Eagles had no answer for visiting Lampeter-Strasburg, which brought it’s sparkling 12-1 overall record into the Nest.

Defensively, the Pioneers suffocated the Eagles’ attack, forcing them to the perimeter where their shots weren’t falling. At the offensive end, L-S got balanced scoring inside and out, ending the first three quarters on buzzer beating three-pointers to squelch any thoughts of an Eagle comeback.

L-S (7-0 Section Three, 13-1 overall) grabbed the lead for good with a 12-0 run to start the second quarter. And like any good team, continued to expand it to as much as 20 points in the fourth quarter before closing out a convincing 50-31 victory.

“They are tough,” Cocalico Coach Seth Sigman said of the Pioneers. “They got a big guy inside who can block shots, and their perimeter defenders are good at sliding their feet and keeping you out of the middle. And they are also long and lanky…they can contest your shots. They definitely gave us trouble tonight. I do think if we’d have shot the ball a little better, we had some open threes, but if some of those go in obviously the energy is a little different.”

Cocalico did get off to a good start, opening up a quick 6-2 advantage midway through the first quarter. After L-S cut it to 8-7 late in the period, the Eagles’ Peyton Stetter drilled a trey with 35 seconds to go to put the Eagles up by four. However, L-S seized that momentum back when Pioneer big man Adam Stoltzfus drilled his first three-pointer of the season at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 11-10.

“That was deflating,” Sigman said. “We got off to a real good start and were feeling really good and then he hits that shot and we were deflated. I think that just kind of zapped our energy, and we just didn’t respond very well after that.”

L-S tied the game in the opening moments of the second quarter when Pat Holmes hit one of two free throws, and then took the lead for good when Nevin Book rebounded the missed foul shot and put it back for what turned into a huge three-point play.

That sparked the big 12-0 L-S run that set them on their way. While Cocalico went scoreless on five consecutive trips, the Pioneers added a lay-up by Seth Beers and three-pointers from Chase Broderick and Holmes to open up a sudden 22-11 advantage.

“Their defense was tough,” Sigman said when asked about that early second-quarter stretch. “We couldn’t find a lot of open shots, and when we did try to skip passes they got tips…we just did not execute well at all in the second quarter.

A Brady Nuneville bucket finally ended the Eagles’ second quarter drought with 3:31 to go, but the Pioneers would close out the period on a 19-4 run, which ended on a three-pointer by Beers at the buzzer to make it 22-11.

In the third, Cocalico’s Connor Mack did get to the basket and scored all nine of his points, which led Cocalico, during that period. His final hoop with 24 ticks left cut the Cocalico deficit to 37-26, but Broderick canned another trey as the quarter ended and the Pioneers’ lead was back up to 14 points at 40-26.

“Those threes at the buzzer were just deflating,” Sigman said. “It’s hard to get your energy back when every time you go to sit down on the bench something bad just happened.”

It didn’t get any better for Cocalico in the fourth as the Pioneers held the Eagles to just one field goal while out-scoring them 9-5 in the quarter to wrap things up.

“We just weren’t aggressive enough,” Sigman said. “We just kind of dribbled around the outside, passed it around…we never really made splits under control. We made a couple splits but we were off-balance. We got pushed a little bit…it just never felt like we could go on a run.”

Stoltzfus led a balanced L-S scoring attack with 11 points. Broderick and Holmes each added nine for the winners.

While Mack led Cocalico with nine points, Stetter chipped in with seven in the loss.

Despite the loss, which bumped Cocalico (4-4 section) one-and-a-half games behind second-place Garden Spot (5-2), the Eagles still have won five out of six and control their own destiny for the second playoff spot in Section Three with five league games to go.

“We are behind Garden Spot but we beat them so we are still in a good position,” Sigman said. “A lot of teams are going to lose to L-S. A lot of teams have lost to them. It’s not time to hit the panic button yet. We are still playing well, outside of tonight. We’re on a nice little streak here. We just got to keep our energy up, knock down shots and we’ll be fine.”

Last Thursday, the Eagles traveled to Ephrata for a non-league battle between the two rival schools.

The Mounts were playing short-handed as leading scorer Xavian Rodriguez missed the game with an injury. Still, Ephrata battled the Eagles through an entertaining first half that had Cocalico leading 18-17 at the break.

But, the visiting Eagles gained control for good in the third quarter, out-scoring Ephrata 10-3 in the period to open up the lead and key an eventual 42-33 victory.

Mack scored a game-high 13 points to pace the Eagles, who also received 12 points from Brady Nuneville.

Jared Groff was the lone Mount to reach double figures as he ended the game with 11 points in the loss.

Cocalico followed up that win with a strong effort Friday night at home vs. Solanco in Section Three action.

Leading 11-8 after one period, Cocalico took control in the second quarter out-scoring the Mules 16-7 to pull away for an eventual 47-30 victory.

Trey Griffin took top scoring honors for the Eagles, tossing in a game-high 13 points. Ben Karbe added nine points for Cocalico while Jake Digman contributed eight points in the win.

Dawson Kreider led the way for the Mules with eight points in the loss.

Cocalico returns to action Friday night on the road for a big Section Three road test at Manheim Central. The Eagles also have a home game next Tuesday vs. Conestoga Valley.

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