Monday, January 22, 2018
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Section Champs!


With so much to gain, some things, Hannah Reimel admitted, got lost.
 
"Both teams fought really hard and we both wanted it really bad," Ephrata's senior guard said of Friday night's playoff for the L-L League Section Two girls' basketball title against backyard rival Cocalico.
 
"That's probably why it was so ugly at times, because both (teams) were so focused on winning, we might not have been focusing on the little things."
 
Like making shots.
 
Despite shooting just 11 for 34 from the floor by game's end, Ephrata did what it had to defensively Friday night to secure the Section Two title with a 37-28 victory over Cocalico at Garden Spot High School.
 
It was the first section crown since 2009 for the Mountaineers (18-5), who beat Cocalico (18-5) on the road by a nearly identical score (38-28) a week earlier, eventually forcing Friday's playoff.
 
"There's nothing to be sorry about," Cocalico coach Anthony DiMatteo said of his players afterward. "They left it all on the court. The last game (against Ephrata) we didn't execute. This time I thought our offense was good, we just didn't put the ball in the basket."
 
In fact, by game's end, the Eagles had shot a collective 9 for 42 from the floor, including a 2-for-10 clip from behind the 3-point line.
 
The worst of it belonged to junior forward and leading scorer Marissa Gingrich and freshman guard/forward Emily White.
 
Gingrich (team-high 12 points) finished a disheartening 3 for 18 from the floor, with two of those buckets being a pair of deep 3-pointers from the left wing in the game's final 1:09.
 
White, meanwhile, shot just 4 of 13 to finish with nine points for the Eagles, who hurt their cause further by going 8 for 16 from the foul line.
 
"Anytime you have a player like (Gingrich), when she catches the ball, you've got to be there," Ephrata coach Mike Garman said. "You can't let someone like that catch the ball (with an open look)."
 
Problem was, while the Mounts were living up to their usual defensive standards, they weren't exactly lighting it up themselves on the other end.
 
All of which explains why they trailed 5-2 -- that's right, two -- after the first quarter, before a free throw by senior forward Sarah Haddon (game-high 13 points) gave them a 12-11 edge at halftime.
 
"You could just tell we weren't in a good groove (in the first half)," Garman said. "We didn't play very well but we were still up, so that was encouraging."
 
More encouragement came when Reimel (10 points) netted four points during a 7-0 Ephrata run to start the second half, giving the Mounts a 19-11 lead with 2:27 left in the third quarter.
 
That run was no doubt aided by a 13-5 rebounding advantage in the third for Ephrata, which owned a 36-19 edge on the glass by the time it was over. Haddon had 12 of those boards, which was a game high, to go with nine from center Sarah Hoffer (11 points) and eight from 5-foot-6 guard Irene Lascarides.
 
"Irene played her heart out," Garman said. "She was so valuable."
 
Still, as one might expect in this kind of rivalry, Cocalico didn't go quietly, despite falling into its biggest deficit of the night (32-21) with 1:25 remaining in the game.
 
After knocking down her first 3-pointer of the night to get the Eagles within eight (32-24) with 1:09 left to play, Gingrich buried another trey from deep on the left wing to cut the lead to 32-28 with 42 seconds remaining.
 
But, with Cocalico forced to foul, the Mounts got four free throws from Haddon and one from Hoffer down the stretch to ice it.
 
Seconds later, Ephrata's large student section stormed the court in celebration.
 
"We wanted to feel that," Reimel said with a smile.
 
One of the little things she and her teammates had been focused on all night.