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Third time isn’t the charm for Cocalico
L-S beats Lady Eagles again, bouncing them from Districts
They say it’s hard to beat a team three times, especially one in which you’ve developed a healthy rivalry.
But Lampeter-Strasburg did just that Tuesday night, knocking off Cocalico for the third time this season, 55-48, in the opening round of the District Three 5A playoffs at L-S.
With senior star Nevin Hoenninger playing on a gimpy ankle, Emma Gochnauer, Laura Horner and Hannah Garber picked up the slack for L-S, scoring 14, 12 and 10 points respectively. Hoenninger still managed to do some damage too, scoring 12 of her own. Her two three-pointers on back-to-back possessions early in the third helped balloon what was a slim 27-24 advantage to an eventual nine-point lead.
And Cocalico, despite eventually cutting it to four points late on a pair of three pointers from Corrie Lescoe, couldn’t complete the late rally.
With the win, the Pioneers (20-4), who captured the Section Two title this season, advance to Friday’s quarterfinals (7 p.m.) where they’ll host fifth-seeded Lower Dauphin (17-6), which knocked off Donegal 44-38 Tuesday. The Pioneers also sewed up a State berth with the victory.
“That’s a really tough team, and I was just proud of the fact that it is hard to beat a team three times,” Pioneers’ Coach Tony Fink said after the win. “We’ve been battling for four or five years now. We’ve played them in the playoffs before in Districts and Leagues…they are always battles and I respect them as a program.
“My girls stepped up,” he continued. “The Lancaster Catholic game left a sour taste in their mouths. They wanted to prove that the real L-S team was the one that played the first 22 games 19-3, and not the team that got hammered by Lancaster Catholic (in the league playoffs.”
As for Cocalico, the Lady Eagles, who finished third this year behind L-S and Donegal in a highly competitive Section Two, closed out their first season under Coach Andrew Garrett with a 14-10 mark.
“I told the girls in the locker room, this will always be my first team and it will always have a special spot in my heart,” Garrett said following the loss. “I couldn’t be more proud of them, just how hard they play and the kind of people that they are. They are great people, so I’m proud to have been their coach this season.”
In the their two previous games this season, L-S overcame leads late to win 49-47 and 54-50. Tuesday night, the Pioneers seemed in control for most of the night, despite giving up an early eight-point advantage which saw the Pioneers race out to a 10-2 lead only to have the Lady Eagles cut the deficit to 14-10 by the end of the first quarter.
Cocalico then ran off the first six points of the second to grab what would be it’s only lead of the night. Katie Heck, who scored all eight of her points in the first half, tied the game at 14-14 off a nice feed from Sam Klumpp. Klumpp’s putback with 5:20 to go closed out the run and put the Lady Eagles in front.
However, with Cocalico leading 22-19 late, Horner tied it with a three with 1:34 to go before Gochnauer drained another triple following a Cocalico turnover to give L-S a 25-22 advantage heading to the half.
“That was big,” Fink said of his team regaining the lead. “We started out really well in the first quarter, got the jump on them, and then they started hurting us in the paint. We fell behind by three or four, then we caught them and hit that trey to go up at the half…that was big. It gave us some momentum going into the half.”
Hoenninger hit her two bombs early in the third, and after Cocalico’s Lyndsay Engle was whistled for her fourth foul at the 5:02 mark, Horner made both ensuing foul shots and then added another bucket on her team’s next trip to swell the lead to 37-28.
Cocalico’s Maddie Bock and Shelby White both connected on threes on the Lady Eagles’ next two possessions to stop the bleeding momentarily, but L-S carried a 41-35 advantage into the fourth.
The Pioneers led by eight before Emily Fassnacht drilled a three to cut the deficit back to five (39-34). Then after a Hoenninger miss, Engle drove on a fastbreak attempt and made the bucket, with contact, but that was wiped out when she was whistled for the charge, which fouled her out of the game.
L-S then scored six-straight points, finished off by Hoenninger’s third trey of the night to stretch the advantage to 11 at 50-39.
“That’s been the story of this trilogy,” Garrett said of what turned into a nine-point swing. “We’ve talked a lot in the last 10 days about these key points in the games where we would have the ball and turn it over, and the (opponent) would capitalize on it. Just the point swings and the momentum swings, a good team like that will capitalize on it. And again that’s what happened tonight.”
After Lescoe got Cocalico within striking distance in the final minute, the Pioneers salted it away at the foul line as Sarah Gawne hit three out of four attempts to clinch the win.
If there was one thing that disappointed Garrett on this night, it was the turnovers and second-chance opportunities for the Pioneers. L-S led the turnover battle, 9-5, but more importantly, collected 15 offensive boards.
“We talked a lot before the game about getting loose balls…that’s the kind of blue-collar team that we are,” Garrett said. “I know with it being the third time we played them, I know how good (L-S) can play. I don’t know if they played their best but they made things happen. When a shot wouldn’t go in, they’d get an offensive rebound. When there would be a loose ball, a lot of the times they would be the ones getting the loose ball.
“That’s what you are going to have to do because you are not going to have your ‘A’ game every single night,” he continued. I don’t think either of us had our ‘A’ game tonight, but they made things happen.”
Klumpp led Cocalico with nine points while both Heck and White each added eight in the loss.