Are Lady Mounts ready to make playoff push?

By on December 13, 2017

Ephrata girls coach Todd Moyer enters his second season at the helm with a team that has a lot more experience than the one he inherited a year ago.

While the Lady Mounts must replace a big one in 1,000-point scorer Caroline Stauffer, they return just about everyone else who played big minutes last year on a very young team that went 5-16 overall.

Ephrata is loaded in the back-court, headlined by sophomore guard Gabbie Gerola-Hill, who averaged 8.5 points a year ago in her freshman campaign. Also in that mix are junior veterans Kandice Liebl, Katherine Sola and Maddie Root.

The front court also has experience with 5-11 sophomore Hannah Plowmaker joining 6-2 senior center Kyla McKim, who is back after spending last year in Germany.

Ephrata did get off to a promising start this past weekend, going 1-1 in the Penn Manor Tournament. the Lady Mounts opened with a big 52-41 win over the host Comets before playing defending Section Two champion L-S extremely tough before falling 47-43 in the championship game.

The Lady Mounts will certainly look to improve on last year’s mark. And if things go right, they could end up challenging for a post-season berth come late February.

Recently, Ephrata Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth chatted with Moyer about their prospects this season. The following is a transcript of their conversation:

Todd Ruth: You guys were 1-1 on the weekend, played L-S really tough…what was your take away from those games?

Todd Moyer: I think we played pretty well. I was happy to see how well we competed with teams. I think that we need to work on some things to improve and we’ll be more competitive yet.

TR: What were the positives to come out of it?

TM: I thought our offense worked pretty well. We scored 52 and 43 points, and the defense was not bad. I liked how the girls are playing together, working together and bonding together. I feel that there is one team out there at both ends of the floor.

TR: The one thing is your opponents had 52 foul shots so I’m sure that is something you want to limit.

TM: Obviously we don’t want to put them on the foul line. L-S was 20-for-26 from the line, and we were 2-for-9…we lost by four. There are places we need to work on. We are definitely not where we are going to be by the end of the season.

TR: You come into the season trying to replace a 1,000-point scorer in Caroline, but last year you were able to play so many young kids who had big roles. What are your thoughts on the experience that those girls gained and how that may benefit you this year?

TM: That one year of experience has really shown. We are calmer on the floor, we are not quite as excitable as they had been. I just think now they know what this is about up here. A lot of them didn’t play JV last year so they didn’t have that chance to sit there and watch from the bench to see what a varsity game is like. I’m not sure how many of them understood the concept of scouting before, with people seeing what you do and then planning around that to take that away from you. I’m not sure many of them realized that. Now they do.

The L-S game we had a different situation because we weren’t in that many close games last year. Games were five, seven points or more the whole way through. So there is another learning curve that we have to go through.

TR: Looking at your numbers, you are at 21 kids, on a given night what kind of rotation are you expecting to use?

TM: That sort of depends who we play. I can go bigger, smaller, quicker, shooters…I’ve been playing about 10 or 11 so far, now they are not all playing tons of minutes but anybody I have put out there I believe has done as expected or better than expected. They give me a quality two minutes here or there it just gives us a chance to rest some people to keep them fresher for the end. And later on in the season when illnesses and injuries start kicking in I have some people who will be ready to step in.

TR: Looking at your personnel, obviously Gabbie Gerola-Hill had a breakthrough season a year ago at the offensive end as a freshman. What are your expectations for her?

TM: I expect her to keep continuing and growing. You can see little parts of her game that could use a touch more work but she has been playing both ends of the floor, she has been rebounding and she has been shooting well obviously. Overall I’m pleased with what she has done so far. We’ll keep prodding her and pushing on and see if we can get her better yet.

TR: She’s actually one of several in a real nice mix of guards. Talk about them and what they bring to the table.

TM: I’ve got some guards that I look at for defense that can go out there and contain and shutdown other team’s good offensive guards. I’ve got guards that can shoot, I’ve got guards who can run all over the floor and anticipate steals. I’ve got some guards that can rebound…it’s very nice to have this depth. It’s a bit of a challenge trying to find time for everybody but we are trying to find a way.

TR: Well, they say you win with guards so that’s a nice problem to have.

TM: Yeah, I’m enjoying it.

TR: Another person to talk about is you get your big girl, Kyla McKim back this year. What are your expectations of her after missing last season as she spent the year in Germany?

TM: She didn’t play a whole lot of basketball over in Germany so she’s still working her way back, rounding into shape and getting used to playing basketball again. I thought she took a big step forward against L-S. I don’t think there is a whole lot of height in our section so she’s going to present problems for other teams. Manheim Central has a girl that will be able to match up with her but other than that I don’t think there are many bigs out there. She is going to present problems for people. She does a nice job on the boards and she’s doing a nice job from five feet and in from putbacks or part of the offense, etc. It a nice balance with the guards that we have outside and Kyla inside…it’s a nice balance.

TR: Are there any other bigs you see contributing?

TM: I’m expecting Hannah Plowmaker to take a step forward from last year. I have seen some signs from her that she’s ready. I keep telling her she could be similar to a Kenzie Horst. When she is aggressive on the boards she is like Kenzie. There aren’t going to be many people that will get in her way. It’s just a matter of that happening more consistently. And she also has been developing a nice shot. Using her and Kyla at the same time will truly present matchup problems for other teams.

TR: What do you consider the strengths of this team?

TM: Our greatest strength is our depth I believe. I have many people that can contribute in many different ways. I’m hoping with that we’d be able to find a consistency each and every night that someone brings this, someone brings that…if someone is down a little bit, someone else will be there to pick them up. I don’t feel like I am stuck to having to play with the same six girls every night and hoping for the best. I go 10, 11 deep, and maybe more if I want to. I can grab some of the other sophomores that are playing JV possibly to help out as needed.

TR: Where do you think you need to get better?

TM: Rebounding on the defensive end I would say. We give up way too many multiple shot possessions. Against L-S we gave up 14 offensive rebounds to go with 26 foul shots. That’s 14 more possessions for them and we lost by two possessions. It’s a point that I’m going to keep coming back to with them because we got to get better on the defensive boards.

TR: What is the outlook for this team?

TM: If everything goes well I think we could possibly be in the mix for a league playoff spot. If things don’t go so well I could see us hanging out toward the bottom of the section. L-S is probably the best team in the section, and after that it’s pretty much open. I think every team in our section has a strength and a weakness. Who is hot on what night and who plays well against who? It’s going to come down to a night by night game I believe.

TR: What do you think the key will be to being a team capable of challenging for that playoff spot?

TM: After we pound rebounding, rebounding, rebounding…that will help us get better. Everything else I’m not worried about because we’ll be OK with all those things. I really want to get the rebounding taken care of. I like all of our depth. As long as we can continue playing as one team, and people focus on team and not themselves, we have a chance to do something pretty neat.

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