Streaking out of the gates: Mounts 3-0 for first time since 1997

By on December 14, 2016

Win the day.

That’s the mantra the Ephrata boys basketball team has adopted this year, and heading into Wednesday’s girls/boys doubleheader showdown at home with Warwick, the Mounts are a perfect 3-for-3.

Fresh off their thrilling two-day performance this past weekend, capturing the Exeter Tournament with wins over host Exeter and Conrad Weiser, Ephrata won its third-straight game out of the chute Monday night on the road at Penn Manor.

After surrendering a double digit lead, the Mounts, who actually trailed going into the fourth quarter, out-scored the Comets 18-9 over the final eight minutes to secure a hard-fought 49-43 victory.

Brad DaBella scored a game-high 15 points, which included three treys, while Micah Krauter added 11 and Dilyn Becker chipped in with 10 points to lead the Mounts

Cameron Lovett scored 13 points to pace the Comets (0-3).

With the win, the Mounts are now off to their first 3-0 start since 1997.

“It’s great,” second-year Coach Charlie Fisher said of the start. “Our biggest thing is it’s one game at a time. And the guys are excited. (Monday) we were losing going into the fourth quarter and we just made sure that we stayed focused, and they handled everything that was thrown at them. Just overall it was a great win. As far as the 3-0 aspect, it’s one game at a time, and we’ve accomplished our goal three times. It’s the same mindset tomorrow night going into Warwick.”

Ephrata led Monday 20-9 after an 11-0 run early in the second quarter. However, the Comets broke that spurt with a bucket with five minutes to go in the second, and closed the period on a 14-3 run of their own to trail just 23-21 at the break.

Penn Manor kept the momentum in the third, and fueled by an early 8-2 run, held a 34-31 advantage heading to the fourth.

A year ago, these were the type of games Ephrata let get away. This year, thus far, the Mounts haven’t been denied.

The Mounts turned two Penn Manor turnovers into four fastbreak points and grabbed the lead for good at 41-40 with 2:38 to go. Ephrata then clamped down and put the game away.

“We were in a battle,” Fisher said. “The guys were just resilient in the fourth quarter, and they stepped up. Everybody stepped up and that comes from winning a couple games. The guys have tasted that and they now know what it takes.”

According to Fisher, there are several things that have fueled the hot start.

“We are moving the ball well and we aren’t taking plays off,” he said. “I feel like defensively we are always on our toes, we are always being aggressive, and I think that’s the big thing. (Monday) we hit a stretch where not a lot was going our way…we weren’t making shots and we had a couple turnovers but the guys didn’t give up. That’s a major difference between this year and last year. That comes with maturity, and we have a couple seniors that have been great leaders and some guys that played last year have stepped up. It’s been awesome to see.”

Ephrata opened the season Friday night facing host Exeter in the first round of the tournament.

This one was tight throughout before the Mounts picked up the pressure at the defensive end and pulled away down the stretch.

Leading 35-31 at the six minute mark of the fourth, the Mounts forced four straight empty trips by the Eagles and cashed in at the offensive end each time to balloon a four-point advantage to 14 (45-31) with 2:28 to play.

Zack McGillan had the hot hand down the stretch for Ephrata, scoring seven of his 10 points during that mini-Ephrata run, to help put this one in the win column.

Krauter led the Mounts with 12 points while DaBella added 10 in the victory.

Exeter’s 1,000-point scorer Devon Jackson paced the Eagles with 14 points.

With the win, the Mounts advanced to Saturday championship opposite Conrad Weiser, which knocked off Conestoga Valley 55-45 in Friday’s first round.

After a tightly played first half that saw the Mounts take a slim 20-18 lead into the half, Ephrata broke it open in the second and cruised to a 46-28 victory and the tourney championship.

The Mounts led 31-27 after three but out-scored the Scouts 15-4 in the final eight minutes to claim the win.

Xavian Rodriguez led the way for Ephrata, scoring 12 points while Krauter chipped in with 11. The Scouts were paced by Nathan Dobb, who scored eight points in the loss.

Following the win, the All-Tournament Team was announced. Rodriguez was an All-Tourney selection while Krauter claimed Tourney MVP honors. Rodriguez was joined on the All-Tournament Team by CV’s Theo Blantz, Exeter’s Jackson, and Conrad Weiser’s Nathan Dobb and Alex Drunkenmiller.

Up next, the Mounts will look to make it four wins in-a-row Wednesday as they battle Warwick in the first game of the twin bill, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Ephrata will then travel to E-town Friday night before staying on the road next Monday at Garden Spot.

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