Township pulls away from Ephrata; Second-half surge keys Streaks win

By on December 26, 2018
Ephrata’s Miles Heckstall (right) shields the ball away from the Manheim Township defender. The Blue Streaks, with a big second-half surge, upended the Mounts 56-40 in the Section One-Two crossover contest. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s Miles Heckstall (right) shields the ball away from the Manheim Township defender. The Blue Streaks, with a big second-half surge, upended the Mounts 56-40 in the Section One-Two crossover contest. Photo by Missi Mortimer

For two quarters Friday, Ephrata matched Manheim Township, step for step, shot for shot, in the Section One-Two crossover game hosted by the Mounts.

Offensively, the Mounts executed well behind seniors Zac McGillan and Xavian Rodriguez, as the former provided a key outside touch while the latter got his on the perimeter, at the glass and on the foul line as the two accounted for 17 of Ephrata’s first half points.

Defensively, Ephrata limited Tyler Crespo, one of the top scorers in the L-L League scoring 22.2 points per game, to just six first-half points as the Mounts and Streaks went to the half tied at 25-25.

However, just before the half, McGillan left the game with a foot injury, which would sideline him the rest of the way. And without his threat to score from the outside, Township switched from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone after half, and the Mounts were befuddled at both ends after that.

Ephrata would go on to make just two second-half field goals while the Streaks and Crespo got going. Township grabbed the lead early in the third and built it to 11 (40-29) before quarter’s end. Crespo, who would finish with a game-high 22, scored the Streaks first seven points of the fourth as they pulled away for an eventual 56-40 victory over the Mounts.

“We are improving in some areas…it’s just hard taking lumps while you improve,” Ephrata Coach Jon Treese said after the game. “It’s really easy to keep us from scoring when you can go zone when our best shooter is out. (The zone) froze us up. We couldn’t stretch the zone because the guy who was knocking down shots the whole first half wasn’t in the game. That makes it tough for us to bust that zone.”

Ephrata (0-4 Section Two, 1-7 overall) came out firing on all cylinders Friday. And McGillan, who would finish with nine points, led the charge. His two three-pointers to open the game got the Mounts off to a 6-0 start.

Township, behind Brendan Mellot (17), finally got going and eventually grabbed a 12-8 advantage as Mellot scored six points during that stretch. But with 2:06 to play, Rodriguez, who led the Mounts with 18 points, got to the basket for a deuce to cut it to two. Then in the final minute of the quarter, after a Township turnover, Rodriguez evened up at 12-12 with a transition basket at the other end.

Midway through the second quarter after another Mellot basket which gave the Streaks a 16-14 lead, McGillan drained his third and final three to help the Mounts re-take the lead at 17-16. A Lyle Kopp hoop made it 21-18 Mounts with 3:42 to play, and then in the final minute, Ephrata took a 25-21 advantage on a pair of lay-ups by Miles Heckstall.

But Township was able to pull even at the break after Crespo and Tyler Vicidomini made a pair of baskets from the paint area in the final 30 seconds.

With McGillan out of the second half lineup, the Blue Streaks opened the quarter with a 15-4 run as Crespo scored seven and Mellot four during that stretch to open up the 11-point advantage. Ephrata, during that same stretch, had trouble getting shots off. The Mounts turned it over five times and were 0-for-3 from the field.

The fourth was more of the same as Kopp and Heckstall provided the lone field goals for Ephrata, although Rodriguez did get to the line and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the stripe in the second half.

“The zone, after we stared at it for a little while, we were able to get a lineup back in that kind of allowed (Rodriguez) to be attacking from the wing a little bit,” Treese said. “Realistically, we saw the high post and short corners, places we want to get the ball to, but we just weren’t doing it consistently.”

The damage was done though as the Streaks opened up the lead to as high as 18 points when Zach Oldac converted a three-point play with 2:07 to play.

Despite the loss, which was the Mounts’ fourth straight, they are showing signs of improvement, which was not lost on Treese.

“We had a severe lack of confidence early in the year,” he said. “It was causing us to have a lack of effort, and it needs to be the other way around. We really kind of ramped up practice, making it more competitive, and we really started preaching about enthusiasm and intensity, and that’s really improved our defense. And the improved defense has actually grown confidence in people. We have some guys believing that if we make a mistake on offense, I can bounce back because I know we have a good chance to stop them at the other end. We’ve held some teams that can score the ball to some pretty low totals, for at least a long part of the game. I think the improvement in the enthusiasm and the effort has improved our defense, which ultimately has helped in raising some confidence.”

Last Wednesday, the Mounts showed that confidence and improvement when they were locked in a tight battle with Section One heavyweight Cedar Crest on the road in South Lebanon.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Mounts trailed the Falcons 32-31, and this one looked as though it may come down to the wire. But, behind Logan Horn’s game-high 28 points, the Falcons out-scored Ephrata 26-10 over the final eight minutes to come away with a 58-41 victory.

Jason Eberhart added 10 points for the Falcons (3-1, 7-1), while Heckstall (15) and Rodriguez (14) led the Mounts.

Up next, Ephrata heads to the West York Holiday Tournament this Thursday and Friday. The Mounts will face Northeastern in the opener Thursday at 6 p.m. Host West York will take on Shippensburg in the nightcap. The consolation and championship games will be Friday at 6 and 7:30 p.m. respectively.


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