Monday, January 22, 2018
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Hempfield Edges Lady Mounts

For 19 years, the Yankees had Mariano Rivera. The Padres had Trevor Hoffman. The Phillies, in 2008, had Brad Lidge.

Wednesday night, the Hempfield girls’ basketball team handed the ball to Alecia Rohrer.

With two shots from the foul line with three seconds remaining, the Black Knights’ senior forward closed a 43-39 win over Ephrata in a physical, grinding gauntlet of a Section One-Two crossover game in Landisville.

“I think a lot of what we do goes through Alecia,” Hempfield coach Brian Rife said. “She’s making baskets and rebounding and blocking shots. I think we feed off of that, and she’s been doing that all year for us.”

Rohrer netted eight second-half points for the Black Knights (9-1 Section One, 11-4 overall), finishing with 10 points to lead Hempfield.

“I thought we did a really good job,” Ephrata coach Mike Garman said of his team’s defense against Rohrer. “She’s averaging 12 points a game. She scored 10. I can’t be unhappy with that.”

Garman also admired his team’s road resilience. The Mountaineers (7-3 Section Two, 10-5 overall) authored a late rally, cutting a 10-point deficit to two with a run in the fourth quarter.

“We came over here, and we wanted to come out and compete,” Garman said. “I thought we did that. I thought we had a tremendous chance to win this game.”

Ephrata’s comeback bid culminated with Kelly Liebl’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds to play, as the senior shrank Hempfield’s lead to 41-39.

“She’s a great player,” Garman said of Liebl. “She’s our heart and soul. Tough kid.”

Liebl scored 16 points to lead all scorers, complementing 11 from Caroline Stauffer.

“They’re tough to defend,” Rife said. “Liebl is such a tough player off the dribble. She’s so tough. And then Stauffer, she can make 3s if you lose her for a second. And then they have some post players who can hurt you inside. They’re very physical and strong.”

Liebl muscled her way to seven first-half points to help the Mountaineers hold the lead through most of the first two frames. In the final minute of the second quarter, Hempfield’s Julianna Clark hit a 3-pointer, and Nikki Rhoads converted two free throws to give the Black Knights a 19-18 advantage at the break.

Clark hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, part of a 10-3 run that gave the Knights a 39-29 advantage with 4:30 to play.

“We needed every bit of that 10-point lead,” Rife said.

Ephrata pulled within three points on a Stauffer 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining. Rohrer outscored the Mounts 4-3 from that point until the final buzzer.

“That was a very physical game for us tonight” Rife said. “Ephrata, they’re very physical. They’re tough kids. That’s the type of game we need.”

The win, coupled with McCaskey’s loss to Lebanon on Wednesday, pulls Hempfield into a tie atop first place in Section One and Lebanon a game ahead of the Mounts in Section Two.