Eagles handle Mounts 53-41

By on December 27, 2017
Cocalico’s  Trey  Griffen  (40)  follows  up  a  rebound  for  two big  points during last Wednesday’s win over Ephrata. Mounts players Zack McGillan (44), Xavian Rodriguez (33) and Dilyn Becker (20) defend on the play. Photo by Dick Wanner

Cocalico’s Trey Griffen (40) follows up a rebound for two big points during last Wednesday’s win over Ephrata. Mounts players Zack McGillan (44), Xavian Rodriguez (33) and Dilyn Becker (20) defend on the play. Photo by Dick Wanner

After starting the season with one win in five tries, Cocalico was looking for any kind of a confidence boost to get things going.

What better way to get it than by earning a big win over Ephrata?

Well, that’s exactly what they did last Wednesday in a key Section Two battle in Denver.

The Eagles got it done at both ends of the floor. Defensively, Cocalico forced Ephrata to largely live by the outside shot, which led to a dreadful 14-for-40 shooting night by the Mounts. On offense, Cocalico was patient and efficient, getting a lot of open looks and hitting them.

In the end, it all added up to a big 53-41 Eagle victory.

“This is just the biggest confidence booster our team needed,” said senior Aidan Trynosky, who led his team with 19 points on the night. “We’ve had a tough schedule coming out to start the season and I think we really needed this game.”

Cocalico opened up a tight 24-20 half-time lead with a big third quarter, stretching the advantage eventually to double digits. The Eagles were never really threatened again as they held on and improved to 2-1 in Section Two play.

“All of our season goals are still right in front of us,” Cocalico Coach Seth Sigman said. “We want to make league playoffs, we want to win the section, we want to make District playoffs, and all of that stuff is still right in front of us.

“Heading into the New Year, it’s a new season. It’s great to beat Ephrata. It’s always a rivalry game so it’s always good to get one of those, not to mention that we just beat a very good team. It’s good for our program, it’s good for our guys. They need to feel that success a little bit. We kind of took it on the chin early in the season but hopefully we are starting to turn the corner and make some strides.”

Ephrata (1-2 Section Two, 4-3 overall) got behind the eight ball early, starting the game with five-straight empty trips as Cocalico jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. But following a time-out, the Mounts made it a point to punch it inside to junior forward Xavian Rodriguez, who would respond to score eight of his game-high 20 points in the quarter to bring the Mounts even at 10-10 heading to the second.

Senior Brad DaBella then gave the Mounts their first lead of the game when he drained a three to start the second quarter. However, the Eagles finished the half on a 14-5 run behind Trynosky and junior Connor Mack (14), who scored five points each during that stretch, to grab the 24-20 half-time cushion.

“I feel our energy was low,” Ephrata Coach Jon Treese said of his team’s start. “It was our 7th game in 12 days, two of those games went into overtime. I think that contributed to us coming out flat, complacent. We did battle well at times, and got a great performance from Xavian Rodriguez, it just was not enough to beat that team. They hit shots, played good defense and rebounded well all night against us. They did a nice job.”

Cocalico continued to carry play at both ends of the floor in the third. The Eagles shot 5-for-8 from the field while holding Ephrata to just a pair of field goals in nine attempts. Trynosky scored eight and Mack four in the period to balloon the lead to 36-29 after three.

“Our coach has been focusing on staying composed and getting that extra pass. And I think that’s what we did really well offensively tonight,” Trynosky said. “Defensively, we were really talking and communicating and I think that’s what really helped out tonight.”

“We were stagnant,” Treese added. “I think Cocalico getting good looks and making them contributed to us playing tight on offense. Our confidence gets a little shook when we feel like we are not stopping teams. Also, we shot the ball exceptionally well in a few games this year, so sometimes you end up settling. The thing we need to do a better job of is attacking and keeping our bodies moving off dribble penetration. Once again, our guys were tired, it causes physical and mental mistakes.”

The one person who had it going most of the night for Ephrata was Rodriguez, who in addition to scoring 20, collected nine boards to go along with two steals and a pair of blocks.

“We wanted to do a better job on Rodriguez,” Sigman said. “He just murdered us inside in the first half especially. He’s a real tough matchup. He can shoot, he can dribble, he gets offensive rebounds…he’s just a tough matchup but as long as it’s just one guy you can usually withstand it if you are playing good defense on everybody else. They missed some shots tonight that they typically make, so that helped us a lot.”

It continued to be a struggle early in the fourth for the Mounts, who made just two field goals through the first five minutes of the quarter as the Eagles upped the lead to 44-31.

Ephrata did eventually get as close as eight (49-41) as Zack McGillan (6) knocked down a pair of threes while Sam Cable (7) also connected from beyond the arc.

But in the final minute, the Eagles went 5-for-6 from the line to put it away.

“I think this win give us confidence and teams won’t look at our record and say, ‘they are not a good team,’” Trynosky said. “Teams will look at us and say, ‘they are actually a contender in their section.’”

In addition to Trynosky and Mack, Nick Lucky also reached double figures for the Eagles, scoring 11 points while Trey Griffen added eight big points in the paint.

In addition to last Wednesday’s contest, Cocalico also was in action Friday night at home where the Eagles earned a 41-31 non-league victory against Palmyra. It was the third-straight win for Cocalico, which evened their overall record at 4-4.

Leading by one at the half, Cocalico out-scored the Cougars 20-11 in the second half to claim the victory.

While no Eagles were in double figures, both Lucky and Mack finished with nine points apiece to pace Cocalico.

Nick Jelliff and Jake Wagner both led Palmyra (1-7) with nine points each.

While Cocalico is now idle until next Tuesday when they travel to Manheim Central, Ephrata will host its annual Holiday Tournament Wednesday and Thursday.

The Mounts will open its tournament Wednesday opposite Oley Valley (0-3), beginning at 6 p.m. Elco (2-4) and Palmyra (1-7) will kick things off Wednesday in the first game, which is set for 2 p.m.

Wednesday’s losers will meet in the consolation game Thursday at 2 p.m., with Wednesday’s winners advancing to Thursday’s 6 p.m. finals.

“We are thankful to have a full week before the Christmas tournament,” Treese said after the loss to Cocalico. “It will give us time to rest and heal. Also, I think we are going to address some things on the defensive end, get better at our rotations and at stopping penetration. Also, we need guys to regain confidence on the offensive end. More than anything we need the time to rest and work on ourselves rather than prepping for another opponent. We also want to keep in mind, we came out of a tough early stretch 4-3. (If) a couple plays go the other way, we could have been 2-5, so were going to stay positive.”

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