Catholic edges Cocalico in OT

By on January 14, 2015
 Cocalico’s Lyndsay Engle (right) drives in for a shot vs. Warwick Saturday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Cocalico’s Lyndsay Engle (right) drives in for a shot vs. Warwick Saturday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Lancaster Catholic is one of the toughest gyms in which to play.

Always has and probably always will be.

Yet, Monday night in a crossover battle between a pair of L-L League contenders, visiting Cocalico had the host Crusaders on the ropes.

The Lady Eagles, who trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, held a three-point advantage with 20 seconds to go. But, to it’s credit, Catholic somehow managed to dig out of it.

First, Crusader senior guard Erin Holt drained a clutch three-pointer in the waning seconds to knot the game at 53-53 and send it into overtime. Then in the extra session, a trey by Alayna Nicklaus with 2:20 left put Catholic ahead to stay as the Lady Eagles turned it over twice in the final minute and eventually came up one-point short in a 56-55 thriller.

“We’re getting better and tonight we showed it,” Cocalico coach Tony DiMatteo said following the heartbreaking defeat. “We put it all together. I thought our defense tightened up really well in the second half. I thought we kept our composer when it got tight…a couple breaks didn’t go our way but that’s basketball. I’m really pleased with the effort. I thought the kids gave it their all, and lost in overtime on the road…at a tough place.”

The game was crucial to the Lady Eagles as far as the Section Three standings are concerned. By virtue of the loss and Donegal’s win over Lebanon Catholic Monday, the Indians (9-0 section, 12-2 overall) opened up a two-game lead over Cocalico atop the section standings.

“We still control our destiny,” DiMatteo said. “If we win out, we’re OK. We got Lancaster Mennonite on Wednesday, and we’ll work on that…We are just going to go one game at a time. February is when they make the decisions, not in January, so we are just going to keep playing.”

The Crusaders came out smoking offensively, hitting six of the first eight shots they took to grab an early 12-6 advantage. But the Lady Eagles hung tough and eventually cut the deficit to just three at 16-13 after one period, thanks to sub Lyndsay Engle, who came off the bench and scored five of her game total of eight points during that stretch.

But Catholic began to have success in the paint as 5-11 junior Caroline Scarff converted a pair of putbacks early in the quarter and turned one into a three-point play. Scarff, who led the Crusaders with 17 points, proved she could do it in the open floor as well after going coast to coast and finishing with a behind the back reverse lay-up with 3:12 to go to give Catholic a 25-18 advantage.

Emily Fassnacht scored four late points for Cocalico though to make it a five-point Crusader lead at the break.

The Lady Eagles then began to assert themselves early in the third. First, Emily White’s lay-up cut the deficit to just three at 27-24. then, after Megan Gingrich went 1-for-2 from the line, Fassnacht converted a drive on the next trip and the game was suddenly knotted at 27-27.

With White and Engle taking turns guarding Scarff, and with additional help being provided by Gingrich, Scarff was held scoreless in the third period. However, the Crusaders then went to the arc and hit three triples over the final five minutes of the period to fuel a 13-2 run and open up a 40-29 lead.

Hannah Knowlton (10) dropped in two of the three treys, while Holt (6) nailed the other triple during that stretch.

Cocalico, which trailed 42-33 heading to the fourth, wouldn’t go away however, and got it going early in the final period when White converted a three-point play to trim the Catholic lead to 42-36. Fassnacht then hit a pair of free throws on the Lady Eagles’ next trip to cut it to four.

Gingrich, who scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, scored on a pair of post moves in the paint to close out a 9-1 Cocalico run to start the period and close the gap to just one art 43-42.

Following a lay-up by Catholic’s Julia Breit upped their lead to three, Cocalico’s Natalie Sukanick drained a three-pointer to draw the Lady Eagles even at 45-45 with 3:38 to play. About a minute later, Sukanick (8) drilled another triple from the left wing to give the Lady Eagles their first lead of the game at 49-46.

Then after the teams traded deuces, Engle’s clutch jumper with 50 seconds to play upped the Cocalico lead back to three. But Holt would answer with her biggest shot of the game, a three-pointer over the out-stretched arms of Gingrich to knot the game with 20 seconds remaining to send it into overtime.

In the extra session, Nicklaus nailed her three at the 2:20 mark after both teams came up empty on early trips. Gingrich cut the deficit to one with a jumper with 1:21 to play. Then after the Cocalico defense got a stop, the Lady Eagles had a chance to take the lead. However, White was whistled for a “carry” as she was dribbling it up the court with 39 seconds to go.

After a Catholic turnover, Cocalico had one final possession in the final 17 seconds. However, the Lady Eagles never got off a shot as a pass to White in the paint was picked off.

For the game, Cocalico shot less than 50 percent from the line, converting 9 of 20 attempts, which DiMatteo said was a big key in the game.

This past Friday at L-S, Cocalico withstood a fourth-quarter push by the host Pioneers to earn a 49-45 victory.

The Lady Eagles led 37-28 after three quarters before the Pioneers made their late surge, only to fall short.

White scored a game-high 18 points to pace Cocalico. Hunter Bradley (13) and Tori Schultz (12) both scored in double figures for L-S.

Saturday afternoon at home in a non-league contest vs. Warwick, the Lady Eagles overcame a 25-19 half-time deficit by outscoring the Warriors, 37-16 over the final two quarters to earn a 56-41 decision.

Gingrich and White scored 15 points apiece to pace Cocalico, which also got 12 points from sophomore Emily Fassnacht.

Taylor Gonzales hit four of Warwick’s seven treys and led the Lady Warriors with 14 points. Rylee Derr chipped in with 12 points, including one trey.

The Cocalico victory was the 50th career win at the school by DiMatteo


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