Sunday, February 18, 2018
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McCaskey handles Ephrata


They dropped two straight decisions to open their nonleague season.
 
They were handled by Chester in their most recent outing last Tuesday.
 
So was Friday night's L-L boys' basketball opener against Ephrata a statement game for reigning league champion McCaskey?
 
Nah.
 
"We just wanted to come out and get our first win," said senior swingman Devonne Pinkard, who scored a game-best 20 and highlighted an 89-52 win in Lancaster with a late steal and thunderous dunk.
 
"We wanted to come out, get a win and get on a roll."
 
Get on a roll heading into tonight's hosting of Reading. Senior guard Aaron Swinton, who suffered a bruised back at Chester and did not play Friday, could be back in action tonight, according to Red Tornado boss Steve Powell.
 
"We'll see how he is," Powell said. "He's day-to-day."
 
"He's our primary ball-handler," Pinkard said of Swinton. "He adds a lot (to the team). He's another guy you have to account for."
 
As it was, Ephrata (0-3) had much to account for in its crossover game with the Section One power. McCaskey (1-2) scored the game's first 10 points and never looked back.
 
Pressing and trapping the length of the court, the Tornado forced nine early turnovers and closed the first quarter owning a 25-9 lead. Powell sat his starters for the entire second quarter and relied on his shock troops to carry a 45-25 lead into halftime.
 
Forwards Sha-ki Staten and Keyon Cowan contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively. The Tornado picked up another 37 points in reserve.
 
Aaron Hubbard netted a team-high 15 for the Mountaineers and Brady Sipe scored 10.
 
"When we played them last year, we let them do what they wanted and kind of followed them around the court," Ephrata coach Jason Coletti said of a 94-47 loss to McCaskey last Dec. 16.
 
"We wanted to come out and compete (Friday) and we competed, we gave an effort."
 
The former Lebanon High star inherited a 1-21 team last season, and after guiding Manheim Central's girls team to the district playoffs in each of his six seasons at the wheel, he's seeing some improvement from his Mounts.
 
"We have three new guys (Sipe, Hubbard, Nathan Zimmerman) in the starting lineup," he said. "We'll take as many positives as we can from this game.
 
"It's only our second year (for the Mounts' current coaching staff), but we're building something here at Ephrata."
 
McCaskey, meanwhile, has all the pieces in place to defend its L-L title.
 
"I think they're better (than last season's 22-8 team)," Coletti opined. "They have a lot of guys back and they're hungrier than they were last year."
 
Powell, too, took the long view Friday night.
 
"Come February and March, we'll be a better team," he said. "We're trying to get some work in, give some kids some reps. We're trying to get ready for Reading."
 
Get ready, too, to make a run at the section title that eluded them last season.