Cocalico overcomes early deficit to beat MC girls
Adorned on their warm-up shirts is the number ‘32,’ a reference to playing four complete eight-minute quarters.
Through the early part of this season, that has been an Achilles heel for the Lady Eagles.
For Manheim Central, however, showing up ready to go Monday night wasn’t a problem, as the Lady Barons jumped to a 15-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But senior Marissa Gingrich ignited a Cocalico rally with eight of her game-high 19 points in the second quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, and the Lady Eagles (3-0) remained undefeated with a 57-34 non-league win over host Manheim Central.
Sophomore Emily White chipped in with 13 points and the Lady Eagles’ defense allowed less than 40 points for the third game in a row.
“We talk about the roller coaster effect,” Cocalico coach Tony DiMatteo said. “You don’t get too high, you don’t get too low. I think the kids are really getting it. It’s a good experience with the (MC students) yelling at them down there (behind the basket) and all that. I said, ‘This is what it’s about. You focus on why we practice every day, you go out, you play hard,’ and I think they’re getting it.”
With leading scorer Sarah Painter burdened by early foul trouble, Olivia Novak stepped up for the Lady Barons (1-2) and finished with a team-high 16 points. Painter, who averaged 21.5 points in Central’s first two games, was held to four against Cocalico.
“We were ready to play. Like I told (the players),” Manheim Central boss Dan Cotchen said, “this is going to be one of the better teams we’re going to play all year, so there’s no shame in that. We played a good game against Ephrata (last Friday in a 51-46 loss), they’re the reigning Section Two champs, and these guys (Cocalico) could very well be that at the end of the year.”
Manheim Central, of course, still hopes to be in the mix in the Section Three race, and the Lady Barons could find themselves contending if they play like they did in the first quarter
With the score knotted 4-4, Lauree Wiegand hit a 3-pointer, then dropped in a layup and Novak followed with a deuce to put the MC girls in front 11-4 with 2:24 left in the first.
Overall, Manheim Central capitalized on a 10-9 edge on the boards in the opening stanza, while Wiegand and Novak combined to score 13 of the Lady Barons’ points in their early 15-8 lead. Wiegand finished with nine points before suffering an ankle injury with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Gingrich, being guarded by Novak, didn’t get in the scoring column in the first quarter, but her 3-pointer, following a layup by her sister Megan, a sophomore, helped to fuel an 11-2 run which gave Cocalico its first lead. White, an athletic 5-foot-10 guard/forward, had a steal – one of nine MC turnovers in the quarter against Cocalico’s press – and scored at the other end on a fastbreak layup to make it 19-17 with 4:10 remaining in the half.
“(Marissa) got the momentum swung for us and then the other girls stepped it up and picked it up for us,” DiMatteo said.
Meanwhile, Central’s offense was dealt a blow when Painter got her third foul with 5:13 left in the half and went to the bench.
“She was averaging 21.5 (points) – I know it was only after two games – but she’s our only double-figure scorer,” Cotchen said, “and when she went out, that certainly changed the offensive perspective for us.”
After Wiegand knocked down a pair of free throws to tie things 19-19 with 2:30 remaining, Marissa Gingrich’s second trey of the quarter put the Lady Eagles up 22-19. A short J by Central’s Kelli Barber made it a one-point game, but White converted both ends of a 1-and-1 and Gingrich scored following a scramble for the ball, putting Cocalico up 26-21 going to the locker room.
“Fifteen (points) was not good,” DiMatteo said of his team’s opening-quarter defense. “We weren’t happy with that. (Manheim Central) set a lot of good screens, they’re a real aggressive team, particularly in here. It’s a small gym, they know the gym well and they know how to play here. We just made some adjustments, we tightened it up, we communicated, fought through some picks. I think that was the difference. The other big thing was they got a lot of first shots, second shots, third shots in the first quarter and then it was one and done after that.”
The Lady Barons were still within striking distance at the break, trailing by just five points, but Cocalico opened up a double-digit lead, 38-23, with 4:41 to go in the third quarter on the strength of a 12-2 run. White scored six of her 13 points in that stretch.
“We put Olivia on Gingrich and then we put Kelli on White wanting to slow them down,” Cotchen said. “Our game plan was, ‘Look, if we can slow (Gingrich and White) down and make them take difficult looks and things like that, it’s going to be to our advantage.’ And it did work there for the first quarter, (even) by halftime. Then of course, it just kinda spiraled away from us a little bit. It was a good effort.”
Novak’s deuce with 50 seconds left in the third kept the Lady Barons within 14 points, 41-27, but then Gingrich buried both ends of a 1-and-1 and scored on a drive to make it 45-27 going to the final stanza.
Painter eventually fouled out with 5:53 left in the fourth, but by that point, the Cocalico girls basically had their win in the books.
Cocalico will now prepare for a tough test in its league opener this Friday at Manheim Township in a Section One-Two crossover. Manheim Central, meanwhile, will set its sights on Columbia in a Section Three-Four crossover match-up.
“We’ve not played 32 (minutes) yet,” DiMatteo said. “I keep reminding the girls that. I’m hoping Friday we turn it around. It’s going to be a good game. We’ve got a Township team that won 48 in a row or whatever and we’re playing at their place. So we’re going to go in there and try to play our game and give them a game. Like I tell the girls, ‘We’re going in there and playing to win. We’re going to make them beat us.’ That’s our goal.”
Last Saturday, Painter scored 18 points, as the Lady Barons took a 26-14 lead in the first half over Northern Lehigh and never looked back in a 54-25 drubbing in the consolation game of the Fleetwood Tip-Off Tournament.
Danielle Ober added with nine points and the MC girls’ defense held the Lady Bulldogs to single digits in three of four quarters.
In their season opener last Friday, Ephrata’s Caroline Stauffer scored a team-high 22 points and the Lady Mounts outscored Central 15-10 in the final stanza to pull out a 51-46 win in the Fleetwood Tip-Off semi-finals.
Painter paced all scorers with 25 points and the Lady Barons pulled even 36-36 heading to the fourth by holding a 12-6 scoring edge in the third quarter.