Ephrata wins pair to set up first-place showdown  

By on January 21, 2015

 

Ephrata and Lebanon both held serve Tuesday evening in girls basketball, and will now meet on the court Thursday (7:30 p.m.) in Ephrata for sole possession of first place in Section Two.

Tuesday night at Garden Spot, Kelly Liebl scored 20 points and Caroline Stauffer chipped in with 12 to lead the Lady Mounts to a 42-24 victory over the host Spartans.

In December, Ephrata’s Caroline Stauffer drive into Cocalico’s Emily Fassnacht.

In December, Ephrata’s Caroline Stauffer drive into Cocalico’s Emily Fassnacht.

Ephrata held an 8-7 lead after one period of play before out-scoring the Spartans 15-1 in the second stanza, which keyed the victory.

With the win, the Lady Mounts improved to 9-3 in Section Two play (12-5 overall) and are tied atop the standings with the Cedars, who beat CV, 49-31 Tuesday to also improve to 9-3 (12-5 overall).

When the score at the end of the first quarter in a girl’s high school basketball game is 9-0, you have a pretty good idea which team is going to win. However, in Friday night’s contest between Ephrata and Warwick, things certainly didn’t play out the rest of the way as one may have earlier thought.

Ephrata was the team that trailed early, but by the end of the game (spoiler alert), the Lady Mounts had prevailed over the Lady Warriors, 49-32 despite the aforementioned deficit.

The win was huge because it propelled Ephrata into the first place tie with Lebanon, thanks to the Cedars’ 41-31 loss to Cedar Crest Friday.

Lady Mounts Coach Mike Garman talked about the turnaround.

“It was one of those situations,” he said. “They were in an aggressive zone, and sometimes it just doesn’t click right away.”

Lady Warriors fifth-year Coach Amy Derr, who saw her team eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, had a different view.

“It was frustrating,” she said. “We missed a lot of easy shots and once they took the lead, we didn’t move our feet, causing reach-in fouls.”

Warwick’s leading scorer Rylee Derr (22 points) led the way right from the opening whistle, netting the first two buckets of the game. Until the Lady Warriors’ run was halted at 11-0 early in the second, both teams were pressing full court on defense.

Ephrata’s second period comeback was fueled by Stauffer (five points in the quarter, 11 for the game) and junior center Kenzie Horst (6, 8), cutting the Warwick lead to 14-12 at the break.

The second half continued to go the Lady Mounts’ way as senior Kelly Liebl dominated the action. Despite not scoring in the first half, the point guard netted 25 points in the second half in addition to eight rebounds and five assists in an unstoppable performance.

A large part of Liebl’s assignment in the first half was endline to endline defensive coverage on Derr, who only cashed in one additional point after the first four in the first half.

“She’s a senior leader and fiercely competitive,” said Garman about Liebl. “Derr is a good player who drives to the basket well. Kelly did a great job on her when it counted.”

Derr, the Warwick sophomore, talked after the game about the match up between the Lady Warriors and rival Ephrata.

“Both teams are pretty equal, but we lost our confidence and when that happened we lost our focus.”

Her sophomore counterpart Stauffer is at times her teammate.

“I know Riley from playing summer league, but we didn’t focus too much on individual opponents,” Stauffer said. “Once we realized that we could beat them, we needed to play together, which we did.”

On the status of the border war, both coaches also chimed in.

“It used to be huge, especially in football,” noted Garman. “I don’t think it’s like it used to be, but it’s still fun.”

“It’s always a good game,” added Coach Derr. “I’ve known Mike Garman for years and some of the girls play together in AAU ball so we’re familiar.”

One big statistical advantage on the Lady Mounts side was rebounding, with a 37-19 edge as Horst had a big night on the boards with 14. The home squad also out-shot the visitors from the foul line, going 12 for 17 compared to a 7 for 16 result for the visitors.

Ephrata outscored Warwick 49-23 over the last three quarters to dig out of the early hole.

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