Signature Win: Mounts knock off L-S, sit all alone in first with Barons’ loss

By on January 11, 2017
Ephrata’s Dilyn Becker (left) executes a quick move to the basket for two points in Ephrata’s 61-49 victory over Lampeter-Strasburg.

Ephrata’s Dilyn Becker (left) executes a quick move to the basket for two points in Ephrata’s 61-49 victory over Lampeter-Strasburg.

A year ago, Ephrata lost 11 games by nine points or less on its way to a 3-19 season.

This season, the Mounts have discovered the formula to winning those games, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Tuesday night was the latest example in what is turning into a special kind of year.

The Mounts led visiting Lampeter-Strasburg most of the way, but Ephrata saw the Pioneers push early in the third and eventually grab a five-point lead of their own. But just when it looked like it may be the Pioneers’ night, Ephrata simply found another gear.

Led by Brad DaBella, who scored a game-high 22 points, including 16 in the second half, Ephrata went on a 32-17 run to close out a huge 61-49 victory.

The win, coupled with Manheim Central’s stunning 44-42 loss to Garden Spot, puts the Mounts (6-0, 11-2) all alone on top of Section Two heading into Friday’s showdown with the Barons (5-1, 9-1) in Manheim.

“We’ve been battling and battling, and they just don’t quit,” Ephrata Coach Charlie Fisher said of his team following Tuesday’s victory. “They steer through adversity, and it goes back to last year. (Last year) stays in your mind, and you play with a different attitude, and that’s just how it is. When you remember vividly what you went through winning three games, we know what we are playing for. We know coming into the fourth quarter and we are in a situation to win a ballgame we’re going to fight like crazy to do it. The only game that we didn’t was the Palmyra game, and that just got away from us late. But I’m proud of all the guys. I’m proud of every single one of them.”

Ryan Smith, who led his team with 19 points, fueled the Pioneers’ surge in the second half, leading them on a 10-1 run out of the locker room to grab a 32-27 lead with 3:59 to go in the third.

But after a time-out, Dilyn Becker (13) nailed a crucial three pointer to get the Mounts to within two. Then, after forcing a pair of turnovers, DaBella connected on a three ball to put the Mounts back in front to stay.

“Coach told us to keep with it,” DaBella said. “Good teams will go on runs, and then we just got to stop them and make our own run, get defensive stops…it all starts at the defensive end.”

Ephrata took a 38-37 lead into the fourth, and gradually built it to six points on DaBella’s fourth three-pointer of the game with 3:36 to go. The Mounts then forced three turnovers before putting the game away at the foul line, going 15 for 18 from the stripe in the fourth quarter.

“My teammates were just getting me open and giving me the ball,” DaBella said of his night. “I was in the zone, and it was just a good night. It’s a big win…just a big, big win.”

The win not only gave the Mounts sole possession of first place, it put them two full games ahead of the Pioneers (4-2, 7-6), who now sit alone in third.

“When you play good teams, basketball’s a game of runs and we took their punch and then we fired back,” Fisher said. “We’ve been in some tight ones this year but we weren’t in a situation where we had the momentum and then they took it right back from us right away, so that was something where our guys just responded. I mean they executed. They panicked a little bit there for a couple of stretches but I mean at the end of the day it came down to who made plays and we had some guys make some big plays. And it was great.”

Brad DaBella drives against the Pioneers’ Ryan Smith (15) during fourth-quarter action Tuesday.

Brad DaBella drives against the Pioneers’ Ryan Smith (15) during fourth-quarter action Tuesday.

Two of those players were sophomore Xavian Rodriguez and senior Micah Krauter. Rodriguez collected 14 points but more importantly was huge on the boards, finishing with 10 rebounds and a block.

Krauter was effective despite suffering through a bout with the stomach flu. While he scored just three points while gutting it out, he did deliver five assists, one block and six boards.

“(Rodriguez) played unbelievable,” Fisher said. “And Micah, I mean the box score will show just three points but he gave us a lot more than three points. He was great and his senior leadership…just everybody that went in did their job and it was a team effort. I said to them in the locker room, ‘that’s how you play basketball.’ We were waiting for that (complete game) all year so I’m very happy.”

Good defense fueled Ephrata in the early going Tuesday, as L-S missed its first seven shots and was held without a point until Jared Houck (12) finally got his team on the board with a three with 2:36 to go in the first quarter.

DaBella scored six first-quarter points as the Mounts led 10-5 after one.

Ephrata opened up a nine-point advantage early in the second as Zack McGillan drained a three to complete a mini 7-3 Ephrata run. But with star Ben Sandberg dealing with his own sickness (he played sparingly in the first half before sitting out the rest of the way), L-S did manage to cut the deficit to 19-15 at the half.

That set the stage for the Pioneers final push early in the third before the Mounts took over for good.

In addition to Tuesday’s contest, Ephrata also was in league action Friday night at Solanco where the Mounts out-scored the Mules 18-11 in the fourth quarter to break open a tight game and capture a 45-36 decision.

Becker led the way for Ephrata, scoring a game-high 18 points. Krauter chipped in with 11 points for the winners.

Dylan Hastings topped Solanco with 12 points in the loss.

On Saturday, Ephrata also competed in the L-L League/York-Adams League Section Two Showdown hosted by Manheim Central.

The Mounts squared off against Gettysburg, and leading by two after three quarters of play, Ephrata erupted for 22 points in the final eight minutes to capture a 56-44 victory.

Krauter had a team-high 17 points for the Mounts while DaBella added 11 in the victory. Gettysburg (3-8) got 18 points from Cade Eckhart to lead the way.

In addition to Friday’s big showdown in Manheim, Ephrata will host Elizabethtown next Tuesday as the second half of Section Two play begins.

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