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EPHRATA - Patti Hower’s Lebanon Catholic Beavers played one of their finest opening quarters of the season during Monday night’s Lancaster-Lebanon League quarterfinal playoff against Ephrata.

It’s a good thing they did.

Never trailing, Lebanon Catholic needed every bit of its hot start by the end to repel the Lady Mounts and advance in the L-L playoffs with a nerve-wracking 41-38 win.

Lebanon Catholic (17-5), the L-L Section 4 runner-up, will face Section 3 champ Northern Lebanon in Wednesday’s semifinal at Lebanon High School at 7 p.m. The Vikings beat Manheim Township 47-41 in overtime.

“We needed that. We did get off to hot start, and playing on their home court I thought that was important,” Hower said. “We played an awesome first quarter. We’ve shown that in spurts, but I was certainly glad to see it.”

The Beavers scored 17 of the game’s first 19 points and led 20-4 after one. The lead reached 25-6 early in the second quarter before Ephrata managed to put together any sort a run, a 7-0 spurt that prevented the hosts from being blown out by the half, which closed at 27-16.

“Give Ephrata credit,” Hower said. “They battled back and never gave up. We had them down 20-4 and they battled back. But we kept our composure and get to move on. That’s got to help us somewhere, whether it’s this season or down the line.”

Allison Warren was huge for Catholic during the first half, scoring 14 of her game-high 19 points before the break, including a trio of 3-pointers that fueled the hot start.

“I knew I was hot, so I just kept shooting,” Warren said.  "It means a lot (to win), because we’re a tiny school playing all these big schools.”

Turns out that first-half 7-0 Ephrata run was a slow build. With the Beavers protecting the perimeter after the break in an effort to shut down Caroline Stauffer and her hot hand, that gave the paint up to forward Kenzie Horst.

While the effort on Stauffer held her to nine points for the game, the Beavers nearly paid dearly for it in the interior. Horst almost single-handedly willed her club to overtime, scoring nine of her team-high 18 in the final six minutes of the game.

“Stauffer’s been really hot,” Hower said. “Again, you take something away, you have to give something up.”

Catholic took a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter but the outcome was very much in doubt at the end. Led by Horst’s sizzling final stanza and high-pressure defense, the Mounts roared back to within 39-37 and possession – twice -- in the final minute, but missed a pair of layups in consecutive trips down court that would have tied it.

The Beavers also secured two huge offensive rebounds – by Warren and Neesha Pierre, respectively -- inside 20 seconds to play after missing the front end of two 1-and-1 free throws in the bonus.

“That was huge, because we weren’t sinking every foul shot,” Hower said. “More time comes off the clock. Excellent rebounding from Neesha and Alli.”

Trailing 41-38 with six seconds left and needing a 3-pointer to tie the game and send it overtime, Horst instead drove the paint and shot a pull-up jumper that caught iron, extinguishing any chance of extending the contest.

“Kenzie was supposed to kick the ball back out,” Ephrata coach Mike Garman said. “I had three 3-point shooters on the floor and I had no more timeouts. I used them all to get us back (in the game).

“It’s a game that we could have won but unfortunately, we didn’t. They (Catholic) have a very nice team and they do some nice things. But we had them on their heels. We were able to create some turnovers and that got us going. We just couldn’t get it tied. Had we done that, I think we would have won.”

Lebanon Catholic 41, Ephrata 38

Lebanon Catholic (41)

Makenna Purcell 0 0-0 0, Mariah Sholly 1 1-2 4, Hannah Callihan 0 0-0 0, Neesha Pierre 2 1-2 5, Allison Warren 7 2-3 19, Jayden Shellehamer 2 0-0 4, Celine Mars 4 1-7 9, Leah Pastal 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 5-14 41.

Ephrata (38)

Brittany Ritter 1 2-2 4, Lauren Shuke 0 0-0 0, Kasey Umana 0 1-2 1, Kat Liebl 2 1-2 5, Caroline Stauffer 2 4-8 10, Lauren Moyer 0 0-0 0, Kandice Liebl  0 0-0 0, Kenzie Horst 6 6-8 18, Kyla McKim 0 0-0 . Totals — 11 14-22 38.

Leb. Cath._ 20_ 7_ 7_ 7 _ — _ 41

Ephrata_ 4_ 12 _ 6_ 16 — _ 38

3-point goals — LC 4 (Warren 3, Sholly), Eph 2 (Stauffer 2).

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