Third-quarter run lifts L-S
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
When you return just one player to a starting lineup that has no seniors, there are going to be some growing pains.
It is inevitable.
And the Ephrata girls experienced some Tuesday night vs. Lampeter-Strasburg in the opening round of the Ephrata Boosters Tournament.
Leading 18-15 at the break, the Lady Mounts struggled through a rough second half and let a winnable game slip away as the Pioneers advanced to Wednesday’s championship with a 35-27 victory.
L-S (4-2) will face Governor Mifflin– a 69-25 winner over McCaskey– Wednesday at 8 p.m. right after the consolation game between the Lady Mounts and Red Tornado clash at 6:30 p.m.
Ephrata (2-4) struggled at both ends down the stretch Tuesday. Offensively, the Lady Mounts gave away their three-point halftime lead with a 1-for-13 shooting performance from the field in the third. At the other end, Ephrata didn’t have an answer for the Pioneers’ 6-0 junior Lexie Lantz, who scored 15 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to push L-S ahead to stay.
"Mainly that was Lantz," Ephrata Coach Mike Garman said of a 10-0 L-S run to start the third which paved the way to the Pioneers’ win. "She’s a tough matchup. We tried to play man and for the most part we did OK. But I’ll tell you what…She’s smart and what she does she does very well."
As for his team’s offense, which went ice cold after a decent start and shot just 12-for-46 for the game, Garman pointed to its inexperience in games.
"We are a relatively young team with four juniors and a freshman and we’re still trying to find our identity in terms of who at what time can step up and make something happen," he said. "We don’t have that right now and until we find that we are going to struggle at times offensively. There are times that we could take the ball to the hole and we don’t. A lot of that is confidence. I believe in time that will come but right now it’s just not happening.
"We have to learn in critical times of games to make a shot," he continued. "We can’t turn the ball over. We were working hard on defense and were creating turnovers. We were getting the ball but we just didn’t capitalize. I think a lot of it is just a maturing process. We will definitely get better, but a game like tonight is certainly a game we could have won."
Certainly after the start his team had. Trailing 10-9 after one quarter of play, the Lady Mounts stepped it up in the second quarter to momentarily take control. Hannah Reimel’s layup to start the period gave them the lead, and solid defense as well as conversions at the offensive end helped Ephrata build its cushion.
Freshman point guard Kelly Liebl, who scored five of her team-high nine points in the quarter, fueled the burst with a steal and a layup at the other end to make it 16-13. Ashley Mayer then gave Ephrata its biggest lead of the night at 18-13 with a layup with 2:48 to go in the period. A Lantz deuce in the final minute then cut it to a three-point game at the half.
The Pioneers continued to rely on their star center in the third as she scored 11 of her team’s 13 points in the period. Her putback with 3:01 to go ended the run but gave L-S a 25-18 advantage with 3:01 to go in the quarter. But after a Sue Hartlove free throw with 2:55 to go finally got the Lady Mounts on the board in the period, Lantz added three late points to push the lead back to nine at 28-19.
Sarah Haddon (5 points) and Joelisa Harvest (4) both hit jumpers in the opening minute cut into the deficit, but the Lady Mounts never were able to climb all the way back. Ephrata did get to within five points before the Pioneers went 5-for-6 from the line in the fourth to salt this one away.
"We have to learn when you come out in the third quarter you can’t get behind like that when you worked so hard in the first half," Garman said. "I think that’s a part of it. And you do have to learn how to win. Winning is very important but you have to have individuals to make that happen. You can talk about winning all you want but until somebody is willing to step up at a critical time in a game and make a play it’s probably not going to happen."
Ephrata will be going for its second win over McCaskey in the last two weeks Wednesday after handing the Tornado a 49-41 loss back on Dec. 16 in Lancaster.
In addition to Tuesday’s tournament action, Ephrata also was on the court last Thursday night in Neffsville where the Lady Mounts suffered a tough 42-5 loss to host Manheim Township in a Section One-Two cross over game.
The Township defense was swarming from the start as the Blue Streaks shut out Ephrata in the first half in staking to a big 17-0 halftime lead before cruising to the eventual win.
Reimel accounted for all of Ephrata’s points while Township was led by Kaitlyn Van Tash’s 12 points.
The Cocalico girls also were in action last Thursday evening where the Lady Eagles suffered a 40-15 loss to host Hempfield. Cocalico trailed by just six (14-8) at the half before the Black Knights pulled away in the third, out-scoring the Lady Eagles, 17-2.
Kristen Boyer led Cocalico with seven points in the loss.
The Lady Eagles will compete in the Lebanon Holiday Tournament which begins today with first round action. Cocalico will face Lebanon Catholic in the first round at 6 p.m. More GIRLS HOOPS, page B-4