Monday, January 22, 2018
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Tornado outlast Mounts


Facing the same situation, McCaskey coach Brian McCloud and Ephrata coach Mike Garman would likely tell you the same thing.
 
When it comes to coaching a young girls' basketball team, the thing that makes it exhilarating is, at times, the same thing that makes it exhausting.
 
"They're fun to coach," McCloud said of a Red Tornado roster littered with underclassmen. "But they can also give you a heart attack. You've just got to understand they're young and they make young-people mistakes."
 
Despite a handful of said miscues Friday night, McCaskey got a game-high 18 points from freshman forward Ahnera Parker and outlasted Ephrata 40-36 in the opening opening round of the Ephrata Holiday Tournament.
 
The Red Tornado (5-2) will face Governor Mifflin -- a 48-40 winner over Lampeter-Strasburg in Friday's other first-round game -- for the tournament title today at 4 p.m., after L-S and Ephrata square off in the consolation at 2 p.m.
 
"We looked like we'd been on Christmas break for about two weeks," Garman said of his squad, which is still trying to overcome the loss of several key players from last year's L-L League Section Two championship team. "It was one of those things where you have to come and battle and find a way. And we didn't."
 
McCaskey did, despite committing 20 turnovers by game's end (including seven in the fourth quarter), and losing starting senior center Ashlyn Wert to an ankle injury with 35 seconds left in the first half.
 
"They're young, but they actually have some fight in them," McCloud said of his team, which has already amassed more victories than the Red Tornado did all of last season, when it was 3-19.
 
McCaskey led just once in the first half, 6-4, when Wert hit a jumper with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.
 
But thanks in large part to Parker, who scored 16 of her 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds after the break, the Tornado didn't trail again after Ayanda McGill-Jefferson scored on a put-back to give McCaskey a 24-23 lead with 2:09 to play in the third quarter.
 
Getting seven of Kelly Liebl's team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter, Ephrata (3-5) managed to tie it four times in the final 4:45, but could never get over the hump.
 
Parker eventually put it away with a pair of free throws with 28.6 seconds left, resulting in the final score.
 
"I'm just happy where we are right now," McCloud said afterward. "You go back to where we were the last couple of years and (this season) I just wanted to compete. And we're competing."