Monday, January 22, 2018
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Mounts will host Pioneers in Finals


Ephrata's and Lampeter-Strasburg's girls' basketball teams both got to the title game of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament the same way Thursday night.
 
They stole a ticket. Pretty much literally.
 
Forcing nine first-quarter turnovers out of McCaskey to take control from the outset, Ephrata rolled to a 65-35 first-round victory over the Red Tornado Thursday night at Ephrata Middle School.
 
Earlier in the afternoon, Lampeter-Strasburg blew the game open by squeezing nine third-quarter turnovers out of Governor Mifflin and coasted to a 67-48 win.
 
As a result, L-S (8-0) and Ephrata (6-2) will meet in tonight's 6 p.m. title game back at Ephrata Middle School, after McCaskey (1-7) and Mifflin (4-4) square off in the consolation game at 2 p.m.
 
"Any time you can play a team that's undefeated ... it's a measuring stick," Ephrata coach Mike Garman said of tonight's final. "We're going to go in as an underdog, but I think the (Mountaineers) are looking forward to (the challenge)."
 
With its top player, Emily Gingrich, sitting out with an injury, Mifflin was also playing the underdog role against L-S, which -- powered by 12 first-half points from senior center Lexi Lantz -- built a 38-26 lead by halftime.
 
The Mustangs cut the lead to 42-31 midway through the third quarter before L-S -- fueled largely by those aforementioned nine turnovers -- closed the period with a 9-4 run that gave it a 16-point lead (51-35).
 
Mifflin, which was paced by Rhianna Roulston's 13 points and Madison Koehler's 10, never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
 
"The difference was our defensive intensity," first-year L-S coach Tony Fink said afterward. "We got (Mifflin) flustered a few times and we were able to convert those turnovers into points on the other end."
 
Aside from Lantz, who finished with a game-high 19 points, the biggest beneficiaries of the Mustangs' giveaways were Bailey Corbin and Krista Mellinger, who finished with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
 
"We're just really athletic," Fink said. "And there's still room to grow because we start four underclassmen."
 
Later, it didn't take long for Ephrata to grow a sizable lead against the Red Tornado, thanks to five McCaskey turnovers in the first 3:00 of the contest and eight in the first 4:00.
 
Taking advantage of those miscues on the offensive end, the Mounts ran out to a 14-2 lead 3:26 into the game before pushing that to 19-4 on Irene Lascarides' jumper from the left corner with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter.
 
"We try to create our offense off of our defense," Garman said. "I think (the Mounts) realize there's a value to playing good defense. And I think they take that to heart."
 
Still, thanks to Ana Edmondson (team-high 16 points), who followed a 3-pointer from the top with a jumper in the lane, the Tornado cut the lead to 26-17 with 5:54 left in the first half.
 
But four more second-quarter turnovers by McCaskey played into an ensuing 12-2 run by Ephrata, which gave it a commanding 38-19 edge with 1:38 remaining before the break.
 
"We're young, we battle, we just don't finish ... but the effort's there," said Tornado coach Brian McCloud, whose team dropped a 63-36 L-L League Sections One-Two crossover decision to Ephrata on Dec. 14.
 
"Right now I think it's tough for (McCaskey's players) when they know they're working hard and then (after a couple of turnovers) they look up and their down 18 points."
 
Powered all night by senior forward Sarah Haddon's career-high 25 points and game-high 13 rebounds, and 11 more points from senior guard Hannah Reimel, Ephrata distanced itself in the second half, during which it led by as many as 31.