Sunday, February 18, 2018
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Spartans stop Mounts

For the second week in a row, the Garden Spot boys basketball team played the underdog role and managed to pull the upset over the first-place team in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two.

Last week, it was Cameron Sensenig hitting a walk-off runner at the buzzer to down the previously undefeated Barons on the Spartans’ home court.

Friday night, Garden Spot didn’t need any last-second heroics as the Spartans went on the road and pulled out a 51-40 victory at Ephrata in a game that was much closer than the score suggests.

It’s the fifth win in six games for Garden Spot (5-4 league, 9-7), now sitting a game back of third-place Lampeter-Strasburg (6-3, 9-7) —important to keep in mind considering the top-three teams from each section qualify for the L-L League tournament at season’s end.

“We’re starting to buy into each other,” Garden Spot coach Ryan Trupe said. “We’re putting the personal things to the side and we’re just preparing to play basketball. Early on in the season we knew we were pretty good but we weren’t doing what it took to be pretty good.”

Those early-season woes included a 50-46 loss to Ephrata when the Spartans’ let a 10-point fourth quarter lead slip away. So Garden Spot didn’t get comfortable Friday when a Kellito Westmoreland layup pushed the Spartans’ largest lead to 33-22 at the 2:00 mark of the third quarter.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Trupe said.

And it’s a good thing the Spartans kept attacking, as Ephrata later cut the deficit to four points twice in the final quarter, the last coming on a putback from Micah Krauter (15 points) with 3 minutes remaining.

Garden Spot answered with a Jordan Shewbridge 3-point-play on a layup and ensuing freethrow to push the lead to 44-37 with 2:30 left. Shewbridge (13 points) and 6-foot, 8-inch senior center Kyle Gordon (14 points) were the Spartans’ high-scorers, although Garden Spot did get a nice mix of contributions across the board.

“Garden Spot took us out of our rhythm,” Ephrata coach Charlie Fisher said. “We didn’t play our basketball and that really hurt us. ... The one thing we talked about in practice, you can’t put your feet in cement. We just stood still. We just stood and watched and hoped.”

That was especially evident early on, as Garden Spot held Ephrata (7-2, 12-4) to six points in the first 12 minutes of play to take a 15-6 advantage midway through the second quarter before the Mounts woke up offensively.

Ephrata dropped down into second place in the Section Two standings with Friday’s loss, now a game back of first-place Manheim Central (8-1, 13-1) and a non-league contest coming up Monday against L-L Section One first-place Lebanon (9-0, 12-3) and a rivalry game Tuesday at Cocalico (4-5, 10-7).