Township speeds past Mounts in second half

By on December 28, 2011

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

For large stretches in games, Ephrata has shown it can be a very competitive team.

The Mounts just haven’t been able to do it for all four quarters.

That was the case again last Thursday in a Section One-Two crossover contest with visiting Manheim Township. Ephrata went toe-to-toe with a deeper and more talented Blue Streak team for the entire first half and trailed by just five (30-25) at the break.

Unfortunately for the home team, Township stepped up the defensive pressure and worked the transition game in the third quarter. The Mounts simply had no answer as the Streaks ballooned the lead to 23 points (53-29) by quarter’s end and cruised in with an eventual 69-41 victory.

"They just took it to us in the second half," Ephrata Coach Jason Coletti said. "I think the their size wore us down. I thought we played very well in the first half, but they just kind of beat us in transition a couple times and got some easy buckets, and then we just never recovered. They are a good team."

After Brian Neff’s putback cut the Ephrata deficit to just three points to start the second half, Township (3-0 league, 5-0 overall) went on a quick 10-0 run to go up 40-27 with 5:02 to go in the third. Then after Derek Horst momentarily stopped the bleeding with a basket, Township cranked up the "D" again.

The Mounts (0-3, 0-5) turned the ball over six times and were outscored 13-0 over the final 4:37 of the third to turn a competitive game into a one-sided affair.

"Once they got on that run to start the second half, we kind of hung our heads a little bit," Coletti said. "But I do got to give credit to Township because they definitely came out ready to play in the second half for sure. They stepped up their defense, got some easy buckets and we didn’t have an answer."

Ephrata did have a strong start to this one, hitting four treys in the first quarter to fuel an 18-point outburst in the first eight-minutes. Jeremy Franck hit two of those three-balls while Brian Neff scored seven of his team-high 13 points in the quarter as the Mounts built a 15-10 lead at one point and took an 18-17 advantage into the second.

Neff was called for his second foul early in the second quarter, but the Mounts hung tough even without their leading scorer on the floor. With Neff sitting on the bench for the remainder of the half, Township went up by as many as seven points before a pair of free throws by Aaron Hubbard cut the deficit back to five heading to the break.

"I was going to leave (Neff) on the bench as long as we kept hanging around, and we kept hanging around," Coletti said when asked about Neff’s foul troubles. "If we would have gotten down he would have been back in the game, but we were hanging around and felt good coming out in the second half with him back out there."

Unfortunately, the Mounts couldn’t withstand the relentless full-court pressure of the Streaks. Billy Vaughan-Geib (15 points) hit two early field goals before Jomar Guerrerro caught fire. Guerrerro fueled the 23-point third-quarter outburst scoring 10 of his game-high 20 points to put this one away.

"Again, they just took it to us in the second half," Coletti said. "That’s all there was to it, and that’s something we have to get better at. We always have a quarter or a quarter-and-a-half where we get down and the other team goes on a run. I don’t know if it’s because of being worn down, the lack of depth on our part, or what. We got to figure it out."

It’s a confidence thing?

"Yeah it is," he said. "I was hoping that after playing with (Township) for a half they would get some confidence. Even going back to the Penn Manor game earlier in the week. They should have some confidence playing against those bigger Section One teams. We just have to do it for 32 minutes, and once we do it once or twice I think we’ll be OK. It’s just a matter of getting the monkey off our backs, knowing the kids believe that they can do it because right now it’s more of ‘let’s go out here and hope we win,’ more than going out and expecting to win. When things go bad, they go bad pretty quickly because they have that kind of defeated attitude because of (struggling) the last couple seasons."

"We are trying to break them of that," he continued. "Being 0-5 hurts going into Christmas break but I think the kids are getting better, just from watching them in practice and from game to game. It’s just a matter of doing it for 32 minutes."

Ephrata will look to get its first win Thursday night when the Mounts host Spring Grove (8 p.m.) in the first round of the Ephrata Tournament. Like Ephrata, Spring Grove is still looking for its first win of the season. Dallastown and Donegal will square off in the first game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and the consolation and championship game will be set for Friday at 6:30 & 8 p.m. More MOUNTS, page B-4

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