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Pioneers run past Ephrata in tourney championship
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Things looked good early for Ephrata in the finals of their own Holiday Tournament Friday against unbeaten Lampeter-Strasburg.
The Lady Mounts forced six Pioneer turnovers through the first three and a half minutes, built a 6-0 lead in that stretch and looked as if they had a great shot to hand L-S its’ first loss of the season.
Unfortunately for the Lady Mounts, it didn’t work out that way.
Led by senior forward Lexie Lantz, who would later score her 1,000th career point, the Pioneers finally got going in the latter stretches of the period and well into the second quarter. In fact, L-S went on a 20-1 run during that span to take control, opening up a huge lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Taylor Lininger led the way with 14 points and Lantz added 12 as the Pioneers earned their ninth win of the season with an eventual 46-25 triumph to clinch the tourney title.
"It’s disappointing," Ephrata Coach Mike Garman said of the loss. "We came out and played great early, and then for whatever reason from that point forward I thought we played as individuals and didn’t play together. "Once we got down I just didn’t see the fight that we needed to show. L-S has a very nice team. They have some kids that can do a number of things, but I also think we allowed them to do some things."
It all unraveled for Ephrata after that initial burst to open the game. The Lady Mounts (6-3), who would commit a whopping 27 turnovers on the night, took care of the ball early as their defense was causing L-S fits at the other end.
Irene Lacarides’ lay-up with 5:29 to go in the first prompted L-S to call time out and regroup.
Following the break, the Pioneers switched from a man to zone and were a different team. Offensively, things began to fall while defensively, their zone effectively shut down Ephrata completely.
The end result was that 20-1 run and a 25-8 lead with two minutes to go in the half.
"We didn’t rebound the ball very well and we didn’t defend very well," Garman said his team’s play during that difficult stretch. "Offensively we didn’t really run anything. They went to a zone and we didn’t execute very well, and when you don’t do that you give the ball back and they go down the floor. To their credit, you can’t give them a lot of opportunities because they have some very talented individuals."
Ephrata did momentarily stop the bleeding with a 9-2 spurt to end the half and get the deficit to within 10 at 27-17. Kelly Liebl, who led Ephrata with 13 points, keyed that stretch with a three pointer and a pair of free throws while Kirsten Ueberroth sank a pair of foul shots.
But any thoughts of a second-half comeback by Ephrata quickly vanished when the Pioneers opened the third quarter with a 12-2 run that made it 39-19 with 532 to play.
Lantz, who scored six points in the quarter, converted a lay-up during that run to reach 1,000 for her career.
"I was nervous all day thinking about it," Lantz said of reaching her milestone. "But once I got it I was able to just play my game. That was the one thing I really wanted to accomplish this season personally. So now that it’s over I can just work on helping the team."
Ephrata could only get as close as 18 points down the rest of the way as the Pioneers kept the Lady Mounts at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Sarah Haddon joined Liebl in double figures, finishing with 11 points in the loss.
"We struggled doing a lot of things tonight," Garman said. "We had 25 turnovers. It was just a combination of a lot of things we didn’t do."
Lantz was named Tournament MVP and was a member of the All-Tournament Team, which also included: teammate Bailey Corbin, Ephrata’s Haddon and Liebl, McCaskey’s Khadijah Williams and Megan McKay of Governor Mifflin.
Earlier Friday, Governor Mifflin topped McCaskey, 67-46 in the consolation game.
The tournament opened Thursday afternoon with L-S cruising to an impressive 67-48 victory over Governor Mifflin.
The Mustangs, playing without leading scorer Emily Gingrich, proved to be no match for the Pioneers as Lexi Lantz led a trio of L-S players in double figures with 19 points.
The Pioneers opened the game up in the second quarter with a 22-9 run which gave them a 36-22 lead at the half and they cruised the rest of the way.
Bailey Corbin added 16 points and Krista Mellinger scored 11 points for L-S, which advanced to face Ephrata in Friday’s title game.
Rhianna Roulston led the Mustangs with 13 points.
In Game Two Thursday, Ephrata’s Sarah Haddon scored a season-high 25 points the Lady Mounts pulled away from McCaskey with a 16-2 burst in the third quarter en route to a 65-35 decision.
Hannah Reimel added 11 points while Kelly Liebl contributed nine in the Ephrata win. McCaskey was led by Ana Edmondson, who dropped in 16 points in the loss. More EPHRATA GIRLS, page B-3