Slow start dooms Cocalico

By on February 12, 2014

It took awhile for Cocalico to get out of the gates Monday night in the L-L Quarterfinals at Lancaster Catholic.

When the Lady Eagles did finally get going, they played as well as they could play. Unfortunately, a tough first quarter in which they were 1-for-9 from the field, had eight turnovers and trailed 19-2, did them in as the Crusaders hung on for a 52-42 victory.

With the win, Catholic (22-1) advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals at Conestoga Valley (7 p.m.) where they’ll meet Manheim Township (23-0), which knocked off L-S, 40-30 Monday.

The other semifinal to be held at Annville-Cleona (7 p.m.) Wednesday will pit Cedar Crest (18-5), a 51-47 winner over Donegal, against Section Two champion Lebanon (19-4), which handled Annville-Cleona 47-28.

Wednesday’s winners will meet Friday at Manheim Township (7 p.m.) in the L-L finals.

Monday at Catholic, Cocalico (15-8) simply dug too big of a hole with it’s rough start. The Lady Eagles out-scored Catholic in each of the final three periods as Marissa Gingrich scored 19 points to pace her team, which will now await next Tuesday’s District opener at Lebanon.

“We outplayed them the rest of the game,” Cocalico Coach Tony DiMatteo said. “We were controlling the game. We handled their press. The kids did a great job of following the game plan. We knew we could play with them. It was just that 19-2 (first quarter)…We put ourselves in too big of a hole.”

The Crusaders led 4-2 with five minutes to go in the first when they caught fire offensively and forced some Cocalico miscues at the other end. That combination led to a 15-0 Catholic run to the end of the quarter.

Sophomore Caroline Scarff, who scored a game-high 21 points, led the early onslaught with eight points while Erin Holt and Emily Colon both knocked down big three-pointers to stake their team out to the big lead.

Cocalico wasn’t bothered by the vaunted Catholic press. It was in the front court where the Lady Eagles were making mistakes early.

“The passes were there, the spacing was there. We just didn’t execute,” DiMatteo said. “We made a chest pass when we should have made a bounce pass. We were a little too soft on the pass. We’d dribble the ball up the court and we knew that they’d chase you down….we made one extra dribble when we should have passed the ball. We did that later. We just didn’t do it in the first quarter and you can’t do that against the good teams. Once we started playing with some confidence, that was over. Then we started getting shots.”

Gingrich finally got the Lady Eagles off the schneid with a post-up deuce early in the second on her way to a six-point quarter. Emily White also contributed five key points in the period as Cocalico cut the Crusader lead to 26-13 late in the period. But the Lady Eagles came up empty on their final three trips of the first half before Scarff drilled a jumper with two seconds remaining to give her team a still comfortable 28-13 advantage at the half.

Cocalico continued to chip away in the third as the Lady Eagles opened the period on an 8-2 run to cut it to 30-21. Natalie Sukanick scored a pair of buckets during that stretch before Lauren Stricker knocked down a foul line jumper to cut it to single digits.

The Cocalico deficit remained nine in the final minute of the third, and the Lady Eagles appeared to be gaining momentum,. However, Holt banked in a three-pointer with 1:03 to play, and after Gingrich sank a pair of free throws at the other end, Catholic’s Danielle Atkinson rebounded her own miss and scored a killer bucket at the buzzer to give her team a 12-point lead (40-28) heading to the fourth.

“Offensive rebounds killed us in the second half,” DiMatteo said. “They banked in a three-pointer, and they had four offensive rebounds for buckets. That really hurt.”

Despite a seven-point quarter from Megan Gingrich in the fourth, Cocalico never was able to get the deficit under 10 as the Crusaders were able to hold on.

While Scarff was the lone player in double figures for Catholic, Hannah Knowlton and Holt both added eight points while Colon added seven.

“Maybe we were a little tentative but it certainly wasn’t like last year in our first playoff game,” DiMatteo said. “The girls came out to win, and I’m proud of them. It’s just that (early) hole. We got to get out of that hole. We got to come out from the (opening) tip.”

slowstartboxscoreThey’ll have another opportunity to do just that against an opponent with which they are very familiar in Section Two foe Lebanon. The Cedars won both meetings between the two this year, both by seven point margins.

Will the third time be the charm for Cocalico?

“I hope so,” DiMatteo said. “I’m excited to go into Lebanon. We’ll be ready for that game. We are definitely going in to win, I’ll tell you that. We are not going in to just play. We came (to Lancaster Catholic) to win. We didn’t come in here to play. We wanted to win this basketball game.”

Todd Ruth is the sports editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4422

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