Lescoe’s 31 points not enough as McCaskey rallies late

By on January 15, 2014

Cocalico’s Spencer Moser in action last Wednesday at Ephrata. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Cocalico’s Spencer Moser in action last Wednesday at Ephrata. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Since Tucker Lescoe’s return from injury to the Cocalico lineup three games ago, the Eagles suddenly look like a squad that has the confidence (and the ability) to play with any team they face.

That certainly had been the case in wins this past week over Ephrata and Solanco, and Tuesday night at McCaskey, it was evident again, despite a slow start.

The Eagles, who fell behind by double digits in the first quarter, rode a sizzling Lescoe in the middle two periods and found themselves up by nine points (50-41) with 1:45 to go in the third.

Unfortunately for them, what had the makings of a signature win, fell apart over the final nine minutes and change. McCaskey closed the third with an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to just one (53-52) heading to the fourth. Then in the final period, the Red Tornados continued its run, scoring the first eight points of the quarter to grab the lead for good before putting Cocalico away at the foul line to seal an eventual 76-63 win in Section One-Two crossover action.

Fortunately for the Eagles, they didn’t lose any ground in the Section Two race. The Eagles remain tie with Ephrata at 4-5 in second place after the Mounts fell to Cedar Crest Tuesday, 71-49.

“Give credit to McCaskey,” Cocalico coach Travis Wealand said of the Tornados late turn-around Tuesday. “They really executed their gameplan. They knocked down a lot of shots. They got hot at the right time, and we just needed to do a better job contesting shots. They kind of spread the lead a little there and then we had to play catch-up at the end.”

McCaskey (7-2 Section One, 8-6 overall), playing without top scorer Antanee Pinkard, got 23 from Randolph Speller, 15 from Kobe Gantz and 13 from Tyler Owens in the come-from-behind victory.

That helped offset the monster game turned in by Lescoe, who turned in a season-high 31 points, which included eight three pointers to pace Cocalico (6-7 overall). The star sophomore, who failed to score a single point in the opening quarter, erupted in the second with a 14-point period. He continued to have the hot hand into the third, scoring 11 in that period to help the Eagles build their nine-point lead.

“Tucker’s a very smart basketball player and he knows situations and knows how to get himself open,” Wealand said. “No matter what defense we are running he is always thinking the game. And offensively when different defenses are denying him he’s in the game 100 percent. I think that makes him tough because he’s constantly thinking the game. When he’s knocking down shots, that helps, and tonight he was feeling good from the three point line, as well as creating plays for himself and his teammates.”

The latter was the case early after McCaskey jumped out to a quick 16-6 lead in the first. And senior guard Spencer Moser was the recipient. With Lescoe missing his first four shots from the field, Moser picked up the slack, scoring seven of his 18 points in the period to draw Cocalico within five points at 16-11 after eight minutes of play.

An early second period putback by Casey Kerschner and another trey from Moser tied the game at 16-16 early in the second before the teams rode the seesaw for the next three minutes or so. Kobe Gantz’s lay-up put the Tornados back in front at 18-16 before Lescoe finally drained his first three and first points of the game at the 5:18 mark of the second to give the Eagles a two-point advantage.

From there, Cocalico eventually went up by five on a Moser lay-up before Lescoe and McCaskey matched hoops the rest of the way as the Eagles held a four-point advantage (35-31) heading to the half.

“We had another slow start but credit to our kids for coming back,” Wealand said. “They really do put their best effort out there. We just started slow again. Once our guys knocked down a couple shots they got a little momentum and then we started playing better together.”

It continued well into the third.

However, after Lescoe made it a nine-point game, Kobe Gantz knocked down a three to ignite a late McCaskey run. Speller and Collins Gantz both knocked down threes as well before Andre Dixon converted a three-point play to give the Red Tornados the lead at 52-50 late in the quarter. However, the Eagles momentarily regained the lead on an Austin Noll bomb at the buzzer.

But McCaskey finally found its rhythm, and opened the period with its 9-0 run to grab the lead for good.

A big key was the defense of Dixon, who switched to guarding Lescoe down the stretch and the lengthy guard was effective. Cocalico turned the ball over four times during that critical moment, and couldn’t get the momentum back.

“They made a switch there and (Dixon) did do a nice job on Tucker,” Wealand said. “We kept running what we wanted to run. I felt like we still executed what we needed to do but we just didn’t knock down some key shots here and there. And when there is a turnover here and there they can quickly jump on that, and that’s what they did.”Speller keyed the fourth quarter surge offensively for McCaskey, scoring on three separate trips.

In the final minute, McCaskey shot 7-for-10 from the stripe to balloon the lead to double digits and walk away with the big win.

This past Friday, Cocalico trailed visiting Solanco 31-30 after three quarters before going on a 10-5 run to close out a 40-36 victory over the stubborn Mules.

Lescoe led the way with 12 while Moser chipped in with 11.

And last Wednesday in Ephrata, Lescoe made his first appearance of the season and sparked the Eagles to an exciting 51-49 victory over the Mounts.

Cocalico led most of the way before the Mounts tied it on an Aaron Huston three with 44 seconds to play. The Eagles then played for the final shot as Lescoe drove the lane in the final seconds and hit Kerschner, who missed his initial shot but put in the rebound with just 3.1 ticks left to give Cocalico the victory.

Moser had 17 points to pace the Eagles while Lescoe dropped in 12 in his season debut. John Waskowicz also added 11 for Cocalico in the win.

Aaron Hubbard paced the Mounts with 14 points while Nathan Zimmerman added 11.

Tuesday night at Cedar Crest, Ephrata trailed 34-20 at the half and couldn’t recover en route to a 71-49 Falcon victory.

Zimmerman led the way for Ephrata with 17 points while Huston added 14. Cedar Crest (13-2) had four players finish in double figures, and was led by Andrew Eudy’s 16-point effort.

The Mounts did earn a 69-66 non-league win over host Palmyra Monday night.

Roman Heckstall scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Mounts, who also got 14 from Hubbard.

And last Friday night at Lebanon, the Mounts dropped a tight 61-55 decision to the Section to leading Cedars (7-2 section).

In that one, Huston scored 13 points while Heckstall added 10 in the loss.

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