Lady Mounts edge Streaks, pull into first-place tie

By on January 14, 2015
 Kay Liebl of Ephrata drives the lane against Manheim Township Monday night. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Kay Liebl of Ephrata drives the lane against Manheim Township Monday night. (Photo by Stan Hall)

With first-place Lebanon losing Monday night at home vs. Hempfield, Ephrata had a chance to pull even with the Cedars if the Lady Mounts could knock off Manheim Township at home.
Mission accomplished.
With the score tied 28-28 after three quarters of play, the Lady Mounts surged ahead with a 7-2 run early in the fourth and then held off the Streaks for a huge 39-33 victory.
Once again, senior guard Kelly Liebl led the way for Ephrata, scoring a game-high 21 points. Caroline Stauffer added 11 as Ephrata improved to 7-2 in section play (10-4 overall), and more importantly, tied Lebanon for first place with eight games to go in the regular season.
Township (4-5 Section One, 6-8 overall) was led by Delaney McKnight, who scored a team-high 12 points.
Friday night, two critical three-point shots by Kelly Liebl gave the Lady Mounts a cushion. The victory by the Ephrata girls over Solanco Friday night in Quarryville provided a bigger lead in the race for one of two playoff spots in Section Two of the Lancaster Lebanon League.
In a game of streaks, the Lady Mounts scored the first 11 points of the game, before the Mares ran off six in a row at the end of the first period. Ten seconds into the second quarter saw a personnel setback for Ephrata, as 13-point-per-game scorer Stauffer was saddled with her third foul and had to come out of the game.
That set the scene for Liebl (28 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds) and junior center Kenzie Horst (19 pts., 10 rebs.) to form a two-girl wrecking crew in the 52-41 win.
Despite all of the numbers, Liebl pointed to her teammate.
“She was showing for the ball and wanted it,” Liebl said. “We connected because I knew where she was going to be.”
Horst gave the credit right back.
“The guards did a really good job with looks tonight,” Horst said. “After the first one, you look for the ball with more confidence.”
Another 11-point burst for Ephrata, with two minutes left in the third, and carrying over into the fourth, may have shut down any thoughts of an upset win for Solanco. The Mares had closed to 32-31 before the first of Liebl’s triples, a free throw by Horst and the second three to end the period. Two close-up buckets by Horst started the fourth, and the lead was back up to 12.
Ephrata skipper Mike Garman couldn’t quite put his finger on the team’s success at the beginning of each period.
“It’s hard to say,” Garman said. “It would be nice to sustain that though.”
Liebl’s big night (season high in scoring) did not go unnoticed by Solanco’s first year head coach Chad McDowell.
“We did well with a couple of defensive adjustments, but her two three’s were big shots,” McDowell said. “She’s a great player who does a lot of things well.”
Of course, a lot of the easier buckets can start with a ball-hawking defense, which was the case Friday night.
“It’s very important,” said Garman after the game. “Our guards are quick and athletic, often causing deflections and turnovers.”
Liebl agreed. “When we are moving and on the same page, we can put pressure on the ball, making passes more difficult.”
Leading the Mares on offense were seniors Rachel Trout (12 points) and Haley Conklin (11).
The win for the Lady Mounts marks a sweep of all five Section Two opponents, including Lebanon. That finds the two clubs three games clear of third place Elizabethtown (4-5, 5-9) as the run for the L-L playoffs begins in earnest.

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