:All knotted up

By on February 1, 2017

Mounts clinch L-L berth, pull into first-place tie with MC

Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez (21) drives the lane past Solanco defender Robbie McHugh in Tuesday’s Mount victory. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez (21) drives the lane past Solanco defender Robbie McHugh in Tuesday’s Mount victory. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Ephrata entered Tuesday’s home game vs. Solanco needing a win to clinch a spot in the upcoming L-L League playoffs.

Turns out the Mounts got a lot more with their 55-42 victory over the Mules. That’s because while they were gutting one out against a scrappy Solanco team, Lampeter-Strasburg knocked off Section Two leader Manheim Central, 60-51.

What it mean is this: the Mounts are now tie atop the section with the Barons at 10-2, and both teams are just one-game ahead of surging L-S, which improved to 9-3, with just two games to go.

Naturally, Ephrata travels to L-S Friday before closing out the regular season at home next Tuesday against Manheim. The Barons host Garden Spot Friday while L-S finishes next Tuesday at Cocalico.

The Mounts (15-5 overall), who did indeed clinch their first L-L League playoff spot since 2005 with Tuesday’s win, now sit two potential wins away from the ultimate prize, which is the Section Two title.

“It’s awesome. We actually got to experience a reward,” Ephrata Coach Charlie Fisher said of his team’s playoff clinching win Tuesday. “Every win is a reward but for the efforts since I got here, we are going to the playoffs. That’s like a trophy for these guys, myself, my coaching staff, the parents and the community. Now it’s there. As far as everything else, we got one goal…we got to win on Friday. That’s our next goal, and then we go from there. Right now it’s L-S, and that’s what we are going to focus on, and we aren’t going to focus on anything else except Friday’s game.”

Tuesday certainly was no gimme, especially after Solanco built a nine-point advantage (19-10) in the second quarter as Ephrata struggled to get shots at the offensive end in the early going.

“(Playing meaningful games) is new so there are nerves,” Fisher said when asked of his team’s early struggles. “Eventhough we try not to make there be nerves, there are nerves. We were just hesitant. It felt like we were running around like robots.”

Fisher’s solution was to run an offense they hardly ever use, and the change up worked as the Mounts outscored Solanco 14-5 the rest of the way to even things up at 24-24 at the half.

“The reason why we changed the offense was because we knew it wasn’t engrained in their brain…we just wanted them to play basketball. So just going to that for a couple possessions loosened them up. And then we started moving and we were attacking in our offense.”

While the offense finally was stating to click, Ephrata cranked up the defense in the third, holding the Mules without a bucket for the first seven minutes of the period. At the offensive end, Dilyn Becker, who led Ephrata with 13 points on the night, drilled a pair of treys to lead the Mounts on a 10-0 run and give them the lead for good.

Ephrata carried a 38-30 lead into the fourth and kept the margin around 10 until the final minute where the Mounts sealed it with free throws and a pair of Brad DaBella lay-ups.

In addition to Becker, Xavian Rodriguez chipped in with 12 points while Micah Krauter contributed 10 points and five assists for the Mounts. Robbie McHugh scored 10 points to pace the Mules (4-8, 10-10). Lafayette-bound star Dylan Hastings was limited to just nine points by the Ephrata defense led by junior Sam Cable, who drew the assignment of guarding him for most of the night.

In addition to Tuesday, the Mounts also were in action this past Friday night where they rolled to a 59-41 victory at Donegal.

Ephrata shutout the Indians 18-0 in the first period, and cruised the rest of the way en route to the easy victory.

Larson Kopp scored a season high 12 points to lead the Mounts, while Becker and Krauter both chipped in with nine points apiece in the win.

Michael Lyons led the Indians with 11 points.

 

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