Donegal comes back to out-pace Cocalico girls

By on January 28, 2015
 Cocalico’s Megan Gingrich (right) rises up in traffic Tuesday at Done¬gal. The Indians’ Rachel Robinson defends on the play. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Cocalico’s Megan Gingrich (right) rises up in traffic Tuesday at Donegal. The Indians’ Rachel Robinson defends on the play. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Tuesday’s Section Three battle in Mt. Joy was following an eerily similar script as it did when Cocalico and Donegal collided in Denver January 2.

Like that night, Cocalico held a lead for a good part of the game. Unfortunately, the ending was almost a carbon copy as well as Donegal’s transition game wreaked havoc on the Lady Eagles down the stretch and eventually led to their demise.

Kristen Stark scored 10 third quarter points which came all in transition and quickly erased a five-point Cocalico advantage at the half. The Indians continued to force turnovers and run the floor and eventually sped away from Cocalico, 62-54 to take command in Section Three.

Donegal (13-1 section, 16-3 overall) clinched at least a tie for the section title, pulling a full two games ahead of the second-place Lady Eagles (11-3, 14-6) with two games remaining. The Indians can win the title outright with a victory Friday against Lampeter-Strasburg.

“The big difference in the second quarter was we stopped attacking the basket,” Donegal Coach Chadd Ward said when asked of his team’s second-half turnaround. “We got a little complacent on offense and on defense. I just told them they needed to pick it up. If you attack the middle, go hard, put the ball in the basket and we’ll be fine. And they came out and made that little spurt at the beginning of the third quarter and I thought that was really what turned it on.”

The good news for Cocalico is the Lady Eagles maintained a one-game lead over L-S (10-4, 13-7) for the final playoff spot in Section Three, thanks to the Pioneers’ loss at Northern Lebanon Tuesday. But Lady Eagle Coach Tony DiMatteo wasn’t looking too far ahead but rather at some opportunities that got away Tuesday.

“Donegal plays the same way all of the time,” he said. “I don’t think they turned anything up (in the second half). I think we turned it down to be honest. If we’d have kept playing like we did…they were in the same spots, we just stopped coming to meet the ball, we stopped making good passes and they got the ball and took it to the hoop in transition.”

“The third quarter killed us,” he continued. “They play the same way consistently the whole game. That’s their motto, and they played well. But we got to play better than them. We played better than them again for 75 percent of the game. When it counted, the other 25 percent, they played better than we did.”

Cocalico turned the ball over 11 times in the second half, and to make matters worse, Megan Gingrich, who was having a big offensive night with a season-high 22 points, left the game with 6:22 to go in the fourth after being whistled for her fourth foul.

With Gingrich on the bench, Donegal was able stretch the lead. And even when Gingrich returned, the Indians swelled the lead to as much as 10 points (56-46) heading to the final minute. Cocalico did eventually cut the deficit to just six at 56-50 with 38 seconds to go, but a big layup was converted by Donegal’s Carly Diffenderfer before Kayla Walker finally was able to seal the deal at the foul line.

“We turned the ball over, so we were losing possessions and weren’t getting shots,” DiMatteo said of the second half. “We were giving them lay-ups and letting them set up. We handled the press for awhile and then we started making poor passes. We stopped coming to meet the ball and gave them more transition baskets. It’s a game of possessions, and every possession counts. In the first half, we made them play a half-court game, and that is to our benefit. They don’t want to play a half-court game. The second half they wanted to run and they ran, and we let them.”

It was a much different story for Cocalico in the first half. The Indians did hold a slight 11-9 advantage after one quarter of play before the Lady Eagles began to take control. Cocalico actually trailed 17-12 before the Lady Eagles closed the half on a 16-6 run to lead 28-23 at the break.

Much of Cocalico’s second quarter success came from dumping the ball into Gingrich in the paint. She delivered eight of her 22 in that quarter as Cocalico snatched the lead.

“We had a lot of height on them,” DiMatteo said. “And when Megan goes hard and finishes she’s tough. She’s really improved. Obviously we were trying to get it inside to her as much as we can and we did a lot in the first half.”

Unfortunately for them, Donegal changed the pace of the game and ultimately the outcome with it’s big turn-around in the second half.

In addition to Gingrich, Emily White added 14 points to the Cocalico attack. Donegal sophomore Rachel Robinson led the Indians with 19 points to go along with 13 boards. Stark tallied 17 points while Walker added 12 for the Indians, who are now on the verge of successfully defending their title from a year ago.

“They are tough,” DiMatteo said of the Indians. “They are battle hardened and they been through it. They know what it takes to win.”

In addition to Tuesday, Cocalico also was in action last Friday at home where the Lady Eagles posted a 47-33 victory over Northern Lebanon.

Cocalico jumped out to a big 27-14 lead at the half and coasted home behind White and Gingrich, who scored 18 and 17 points respectively to lead the way.

The Lady Eagles also were in action Saturday at home in a non-league contest vs. Muhlenberg.

In that one, Cocalico once again got out to a fast start, leading 19-5 after one period, and rode it to a 54-43 victory.

White once again led all scorers with a game-high 22 point effort. Emily Fassnacht chipped in with 14 points while Gingrich added 11.


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