DENVER — Both coaches agreed, a good game plan and successful outcome begins with good defense.
But for the Cocalico girls’ basketball team, that defense led to good things offensively as the Lady Eagles blew out the visiting Ephrata Mountaineers 55-30 Wednesday in each teams’ final tune-up before the start of league play.
In contrast to the final score, the Lady Mounts (1-2) led 7-5 after one quarter of play. But Cocalico head coach Tony DiMatteo thought if his team stayed the course, the score would break the Eagles’ way.
“It was just like a slugging match, nobody could put the ball in, it was very ugly,” DiMatteo said of the opening quarter. “I just kept telling the girls, everybody touches the basketball, stay loose, play defense, one-and-done, and the offense will work its way out, and it did.”
The Lady Eagles (2-0) managed just one field goal in the first quarter, coming from senior center Megan Gingrich. Then, with 5:28 to go in the opening half, Gingrich took the feed from Lyndsay Engle for a bucket and-one to give Cocalico an 8-7 lead.
That lead would expand to 18-11 at the half as the Mountaineers offense struggled from both the floor and the free-throw line, shooting 3-of-8 from the stripe and 11-of-28 for the game.
“I thought we did everything we wanted to do but what happens is when you’re defending and you can’t score, it makes it a whole lot more challenging to do what it is you’re trying to do,” said Ephrata head coach Mike Garman. “You want to reward yourself and the only way you can is to score.”
In the second half, meanwhile, Cocalico senior Emily White got red-hot all over the place, hitting a trio of three’s in the third and scoring 21 of her 26 after the break. White tallied ten straight Eagles’ points in the fourth quarter around the Mountaineer’s modest 9-0 run to turn a 37-15 game after three to 48-24 with four minutes to play.
“I’m amazed we scored fifty some points after scoring five in the first quarter but I said keep the defensive intensity, keep pushing the ball down the court when you get the opportunity, it’ll loosen up and it did,” DiMatteo said. “Everybody touches it and then Emily started getting some good matchups, get a little girl she posts, a big girl she steps back and hits the three, and that’s what we need from her, good matchups.”
Gingrich finished with 13 points and limited Ephrata’s inside-threat Kenzie Horst to 11 points. Britt Ritter chipped in 9 points for the Lady Mounts. Thus while Cocalico proved a tough matchup for Ephrata, Garman points out last year’s success following a similar start.
“Last year we got beat by Cocalico, went on and competed for a section championship,” Garman said. “I think these kids can do that as well, it’s just a matter of moving forward and learning, trying to get a little bit better.”
Ephrata hosts Penn Manor in a Section One-Two crossover on Friday, while Cocalico travels to Annville-Cleona for a Section Three-Four crossover.
“I don’t think the scores reflect anything really because it is what it is,” DiMatteo said of his team’s 2-0 start over rivals Warwick and now Ephrata. “When we look at film we’ll see what we do well, we’ll see what we don’t do well, that’s what we’ll work on tomorrow at practice and get ready for Annville. It’s early, we need games like this early because they’re going to help us later on.”
Cocalico 55, Ephrata 30
B. Ritter 4 0-0 9, L. Shuke 0 0-2 0, K. Umana 0 1-4 1, E. Baykeda 0 0-0 0, K. Horst 4 3-9 11, Kay Liebl 0 2-4 2, C. Stauffer 0 1-3 1, P. Sola 0 2-2 2, L. Moyer 0 0-0 0, Kandice Liebl 0 2-4 2, K. McKim 0 0-0 0, M. Mendenhall 1 0-0 2, S. Klemka 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 11-28 30.
S. Benson 0 3-4 3, J. Lorah 0 1-4 1, E. Fassnacht 2 2-2 6, M. Gingrich 4 5-7 13, L. Engle 1 2-7 4, M. Bock 1 0-0 2, E. White 10 3-5 26, S. Klumpp 0 0-0 0, O. Fassnacht 0 0-0 0, A. Peters 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 16-29 55.
EPH _ 07 _ 04 _ 04 _ 15 _ — _ 30
COC _ 05 _ 13 _ 16 _ 18 _ — _ 55
3-Point Goals — EPH 1 (B. Ritter 1); COC 3 (E. White 3)
JV Score — Ephrata 21, Cocalico 20