Sunday, February 18, 2018
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Ephrata Boys Off to Hot Start


Like many sophomores might experience in their first minutes at this level of boys basketball, Ephrata point guard Dilyn Becker had trouble handling the pace of a varsity game around this time a year ago.

“I remember the first time I played varsity, I’m like, ‘There’s so many people here and so many things going on at once — I need to calm down,’” Becker said.

He didn’t know it at the time, but the man from whom Becker was taking instruction, then first-year head coach Charlie Fisher, felt about the same.

“That first year I went through trying to think of everything I possibly could think of before a game,” Fisher recalled. “The Manheim Central game last year I think we were up by 23. My mind was scrambling left and right.”

Ephrata went on to blow that sizable lead against the Barons in last season’s matchup.

“You don’t realize it at the time but I realized it this year ... that first year was all growing pains,” Fisher said.

Those growing pains led to a 3-19 overall record in 2015-16. As a result, it was hard to know what the Mounts would amount to this season, despite the knowledge they’d be bringing back all but two players from last season's squad.

Well, two weeks into this season, Ephrata has already surpassed last year's win total with a 6-1 overall start (3-0 Lancaster-Lebanon League). This with a starting lineup featuring just one senior and missing the team's best defensive player to injury.

"I could see us getting a good start," Becker said. "But I didn't know we were gonna go (6-1)."

Neither did Fisher, a Reading High grad with a bachelor's degree from Lebanon Valley College. Though, in his second year as a head varsity coach, Fisher knew this one would be different from the opening tip of the season opener.

I'll remember this for my whole life ... our first game this year against Exeter and I feel like the game is in slow-motion," Fisher said. “I feel like everything is happening so clear. I’m just like, ‘Wow, I get it now.’ ”

Run this story by Manheim Central coach Chris Sherwood and he’s not surprised.

“He (Fisher) is not gonna be outworked,” Sherwood said.

Prior to Ephrata, Fisher got his start in coaching at Manheim Central, first as the Barons’ freshman coach for two seasons — when he coached a middle schooler named Taylor Funk — and then as a varsity assistant under Sherwood for three years.

“Now Charlie is as prepared, if not more prepared, than any coach in our league,” Sherwood said.

There’s more to this relationship between Fisher and Sherwood, teachers who work down the hallway from each other at Manheim Central Middle School. But that’s a story for another day, perhaps in the leadup to Ephrata’s road game at L-L Section Two favorite Manheim Central on Jan. 13. That game could have high stakes if both teams stay hot.

For now, Fisher and the Mounts will aim to continue this strong start. And they’ll do so with the talents that have gotten them this far in 5-10 junior point guard Becker (10.4 ppg), 6-3 senior guard/forward Micah Krauter (8.4 ppg), 6-2 sophomore forward Xavian Rodriguez (8.4 ppg), 6-1 junior guard Brendan Holbritter (5.0 ppg) and 6-4 junior guard/forward Brad DaBella (7.4 ppg).

“We get the ball moving,” Becker said about an Ephrata offense averaging 50.6 ppg in its first seven games. “When we get the ball moving we found open lanes and that leads us to open layups and open threes. We have a lot of guys who can shoot.”

Becker and DaBella lead a defense that’s holding opponents to 40.5 ppg, doing so without arguably the team’s best defender in 6-1 junior forward Sam Cable, a two-year starter who hasn’t played yet this season as he recovers from injury.

It’s also worth noting that Ephrata has a pair of tight wins over Penn Manor and Garden Spot that the Mounts won in comeback fashion, something last year’s team might’ve been unable to do.

“We used to just get down on ourselves (last season) in those situations (when trailing),” Becker said. “We’d put our heads down. Now, we are winning.”