Mounts cruise past Elco to win title

By on January 3, 2018
Dilyn Becker (12) of Ephrata dribbles past Elco’s Evan Huey during  the finals of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament last Thursday.  Photo by Missi Mortimer

Dilyn Becker (12) of Ephrata dribbles past Elco’s Evan Huey during
the finals of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament last Thursday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

For at least a two-night stretch, the Ephrata boys basketball team found its mojo.

Coming off an up-and-down, seven games in 12 days stretch, which included a 53-41 loss to Cocalico, the Mounts had six days off to figure things out prior to hosting their annual Ephrata Holiday Tournament Dec. 27-28.

Needless to say, they figured it out.

After disposing of Oley Valley, 60-36 in an opening round victory Wednesday, the Mounts nearly duplicated that effort Thursday, earning a 57-36 victory over Elco in the championship game.

In Thursday’s victory, strong defense fueled a fast start for Ephrata, which jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never trailed en route to claiming the tournament crown.

While defense was the key, the Mounts weren’t too shabby at the offensive end either. Led by junior forward Xavian Rodriguez, who was named Tournament MVP, the Mounts scored in double figures in every quarter of the tournament but one to easily take the title.

Rodriguez led the way Thursday with a game-high 16 points. Zack McGillan added 15 while point guard Dilyn Becker provided 12 points in the victory.

“(Despite the score) I wasn’t overly happy with the way we played the first night against Oley, and the guys, credit to them, weren’t all that happy either,” Ephrata Coach Jon Treese said following the win. “They knew there was another level and they could do much more. From the moment we talked about it (after the Oley game) until walk-through this morning, and to the time we got here today, they definitely brought their focus on the defensive end and were very good at following instruction on the offensive end.”

But it all started at the defensive end as the Mounts shut off Elco’s ability to get to the basket with a sagging man defense that forced an 0-for-8 start from the field for the Raiders (3-5).

“We were playing pack-line man, so basically we were in straight man but everyone has a gap responsibility,” Treese explained. “We were really over-emphasizing, especially against this team because we knew their whole goal was to turn the corner and be able to attack. We took that away pretty well.”

Five different players scored for Ephrata in the first four minutes Thursday with Brad DaBella capping the 10-0 run with a three-point play.

Bryce Coletti’s lay-up with 2:21 to go ended the Elco drought, but the Mounts went on to lead 14-7 after period one.

A McGillan trey opened the second quarter and sent the Mounts on a quick 7-0 surge to up the lead to 21-7. Elco’s Jeff Lorah did stop the bleeding with a three before Braden Bohannon beat the buzzer to pull the Raiders to within nine (21-12) at the half.

But the Mounts responded in a big way in the second half after the Raiders cut the lead to 25-21 midway through the period. Ephrata ended the quarter on an 11-4 run to go up 36-25, and then built the lead up to as many as 21 (53-32) on a jumper by Becker with 3:14 to go.

The key to the success at the offensive end in the second half was the Mounts’ ability to get to the rim, which resulted in better shot selection and many trips to the foul line.

“We probably took the least amount of threes tonight than we’ve taken all season,” Treese said. “We did a really good job at recognizing their pressure, and realizing the way to beat that pressure was to attack the basket. We got a lot of touches in the paint by throwing it to (Rodriguez), natural cuts, back-door cuts, a lot of good dribble-drives…we got in the paint on our terms and in a lot of good ways.”

Blake Weary led the Raiders with 10 points in the loss.

In Wednesday’s opener vs. Oley Valley, DaBella had the hot hand as he finished with a game-high 21 points. Rodriguez added 14 as the Mounts jumped out to a 31-14 half-time lead and never looked back en route to the easy victory.

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