Eagles win four of last six

By on January 8, 2014

No two ways about it, Cocalico got off to a rough, rough start this season.

First, the Eagles were hit with some bad news before the season even began when sophomore guard Tucker Lescoe, one of the top players in the L-L League, went down with a hand injury in the final football game of the year.

Then, minus Lescoe, the Eagles lost their first four games out of the chute and struggled to fill the offensive void with their star out of the lineup.

Recently though, they have begun the find their groove, winning four of their last six games. Unfortunately, a slow start Monday night contributed to one of those two losses during this stretch.

At Lebanon, the Cedars opened up an 8-4 first-quarter lead with a 25-8 run in the second quarter to take command. The Eagles did fight back in the second half, out-scoring the Cedars, 36-29, but fell short in the end in a 73-63 decision.

“We got off to a slow start, shots weren’t falling,” Cocalico Coach Travis Wealand said of Monday’s start. “We did a good job defensively in the first quarter, and then Lebanon pulled away in the second quarter. Our guys regrouped at half-time and came out with a new focus, and kind of played the way we were expecting to play.”

Unfortunately, it was too late as Blayde Reich scored 22 points to lead first place Lebanon (5-1, 9-2) while Jorian Ginnetto added 12. Cocalico (2-4, 4-6) finished with three players in double figures, as Austin Noll scored a season-high 19 points to lead the way. John Waskowicz chipped in with 12 while Dante Haines added 10.

Despite the loss, Wealand is pleased with where his team is at, especially after the tough start of the year.

“I just think it’s a credit to their character,” he said of the recent turn-around. “Our guys are competitors and want to do what we ask them to do. They’ve really executed our gameplans, they are focused on those things, and I think those small things end up turning into good things. When you play hard and try to do things the right way, you give yourself a chance. And I think they started to believe in themselves after the slow start. I think it’s just a credit to their character because they’ve stuck with it. They really fight hard and never give up.”

Offensively, with Lescoe still sidelined, the Eagles have had a more balanced attack during their recent stretch. They’ve been getting production up and down the lineup.

And while no one is averaging in double figures&tstr;Spencer Moser is the leader with 9.0 points per game&tstr; the Eagles have been get been getting scoring from six and seven players per night.

“We don’t really know where (the scoring) is going to come from each night,” Wealand said. “We don’t really focus too much on any one individual person, but I think the guys who have the hot hand that night we try to get them the ball, just like any team would do. I think our guys realize the situation and they are willing to go with it. I think it’s a credit to them being unselfish and playing together. We work a lot in practice on putting the ball through the hole. That was a problem of ours earlier in the year but it seems like once their confidence came around their shots started to drop, and that was a good thing.”

They’ll look to continue that trend for the rest of the season, and certainly Wednesday night when the Eagles head to Ephrata for a key Section Two battle.

And while a win would get Cocalico to within a game of the second-place Mounts (4-2, 5-5), Wealand isn’t focused on the standings at this time.

“We take every game the same,” he said. “We just focus on this one just like we did the Lebanon game, and just try to put ourselves in position to win. Of course, looking at the standings, it is important because all of these section and crossover games are important, but there is a lot of basketball left to play. We are just hopeful we’ll be ready to roll, start from the first tip and learn our lesson from Monday night.”

In addition to Monday’s game, Cocalico also was in action Saturday afternoon at home vs. Conestoga Valley where the Eagles put it all together in a 54-34 blowout victory.

The Eagles controlled this one from the opening tap, jumping out to a commanding 16-3 lead after one quarter, and a 27-10 advantage at the half before coasting home with the win.

Haines paced the Eagles with 14 points while Ian Arcudi chipped in with 11 and Moser added 10.

Following Wednesday’s game at Ephrata, Cocalico will host Solanco Friday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

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