Gingrich’s late lay-up lifts Lady Eagles

By on January 29, 2014

Megan Gingrich (right) of Cocalico puts up a shot against CV defender Mikayla Cheyney during Tuesday’s game in Denver. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Megan Gingrich (right) of Cocalico puts up a shot against CV defender Mikayla Cheyney during Tuesday’s game in Denver. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Back on January 3, Cocalico thumped Conestoga Valley, 59-23, in the Buckskins’ gym.

Tuesday night, in the rematch played in Denver, Cocalico Coach Tony DiMatteo just knew this time CV would bring the fight.

That’s because the Buckskins were playing for their playoff lives, and a win over Cocalico would have set up a juicy finish to the season in Section Two.

Turns out, DiMatteo was spot on.

CV, behind a terrific game from senior Jada Dunsen, who scored a game-high 22 points, came from eight points back in the second half to tie it on a Dunsen free throw with 18 seconds to go.

It was at that point DiMatteo was thinking about calling a time-out and setting up for a potential winning shot. But he instead let it in the hands of star guard Marissa Gingrich, who didn’t disappoint him.

Emily Fassnacht rebounded Dunsen’s miss on her second free throw attempt, got it to Gingrich, and the senior went coast to coast to convert a game-winning lay-up with 7.2 seconds to play to give the Lady Eagles a hard-fought 50-48 decision.

“I told my point guard we want to inbound the ball (figuring Dunsen would make the foul shot) and push it down below the foul line and then I want to call a time out,” DiMatteo said of the final sequence. “But on the rebound Marissa just went. I was running down the sideline watching her. I was waiting to see if she pulled it out, then I was going to call time-out. But I saw she had the edge, so I just ran with her and then she scored. She went, and they were a little timid on defense…she did the right thing. She took it to the hoop.”

CV did have one final possession but Fassnacht was there to snuff Tricia Erb’s three-point attempt at the buzzer to put this one in the books.

With the win, Cocalico opened up a two-game lead over CV (6-7), improving to 8-5 in Section Two (13-6 overall) with three games to play. Perhaps more importantly, the Lady Eagles kept pace with first-place Lebanon (10-3) as they remain two games out of first and can cut it to one Friday night when the two lock horns in Lebanon.

“At this point we are going one game at a time,” DiMatteo said when asked of the standings. “I missed two weeks (tending to his then-ill mother) and it was hard being away and it was also hard on the kids. Nothing against my coaching staff but it’s different, and unfortunately we had Lebanon and McCaskey during that stretch. We gave up 50 points twice this season, and those were the two games we gave up 50 points. It’s hard when you transition from one coach to another but now we’re sort of back in a groove, and we are going to play to beat Lebanon. I’m not worried about first place or second place…we are just trying to win every game and see what happens after that. But we are going into Lebanon ready to play.”

Tuesday night, Cocalico looked on the verge of another easy win, jumping out to a big 17-9 first quarter lead before taking a 26-19 lead into the half.

In the third, Cocalico’s Megan Gingrich scored six of her 11 points in that stretch as the Lady Eagles held a 37-27 advantage with one minute to go. However, a Dunsen three-point play and a Natalie Waltz lay-up at the buzzer quickly trimmed the Cocalico lead to five (37-32 heading to the fourth.

Marissa Gingrich, who scored a team-high 16 points for Cocalico to inch to within 39 points of 1,000 for her career, got Cocalico rolling in the fourth with an early lay-up to put the Lady Eagles back up by seven.

Cocalico then stretched the lead to eight before Dunsen led her team on an 8-2 run, scoring six quick points to get the Buckskins to within two at 45-43 with 3:07 to play.

“Dunsen is a great player who knows how to put the ball in the basket,” DiMatteo said of the Lancaster Mennonite transfer. “She did a super job. Marissa held her to four points in the first game and we won by 30. This game was a different story. She really worked hard. She saw her season (was on the line) and she went out and played. Marissa played her hard, but we got to do a better job with team defense.”

Following a Cocalico miss, Dunsen got the Buckskins all the way back with 2:03 to go when she putback her own miss to tie it at 45-45. Then after Megan Gingrich sank one of two free throws to put Cocalico back up by one, CV’s Mikayla Cheyney knocked down a jumper with 1:16 to give her team the lead at 47-46.

But that set the stage for the exciting finish.

Cocalico senior Carly Showalter stepped to the line and hit a pair of clutch free throws with 1:05 to go to help the Lady Eagles regain the lead at 48-47. Dunsen then tied it with her foul shot before Marissa Gingrich scored her two biggest points of the night with her last-second drive.

“Like I said I knew CV was going to come out hard because this was their season,” DiMatteo said. “They could have tied us (in the standings)…we’ll take the win by two points or 20 points. We’ll take it at this point.”

Tuesday’s win was Cocalico’s fourth in-a-row, including three in league play.

Last Wednesday at home vs. Penn Manor, the Lady Eagles opened up a 25-22 lead in the third, out-scoring the Comets 11-0 in that stretch to key a 57-30 victory.

Marissa Gingrich scored a game-high 20 points while Emily White added 14 for Cocalico in the win.

The Lady Eagles followed up that win with a 47-31 victory over host E-town Thursday night. Marissa Gingrich was again top scorer with 17 points while sister Megan chipped in with 14 to pace Cocalico.

Cocalico then added a 43-38 non-league overtime win over Muhlenberg this past Saturday at home. The win avenged a loss earlier this season to the Muhls.

This time, Marissa Gingrich had a team-high 13 points while Megan Gingrich and White both added 12.

In addition to Friday night’s big match-up at Lebanon, the Lady Eagles travel to Ephrata Monday before closing out the regular season next Wednesday at home vs. Solanco.

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