Balanced attack leads Warwick past Ephrata

By on January 9, 2019
Warwick senior guard Colby Martin (3) soars past Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez and scores on a layup for two of his 13 points in the Warriors’ win Tuesday night. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Warwick senior guard Colby Martin (3) soars past Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez and scores on a layup for two of his 13 points in the Warriors’ win Tuesday night. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Leading 33-13 at the half Tuesday in Ephrata, Warwick’s boys appeared as though they’d have an easy rest of the night and coast to their sixth-straight league win.

But the Mounts, looking for their first Section Two victory, had other thoughts.

Ephrata put together a huge third quarter, out-scoring Warwick 20-8 in the period to cut the big Warrior lead to single digits. In fact, the Mounts got as close as four points (40-36) early in the fourth, and had chances to cut into the lead even further.

However, just when it looked as though Ephrata may have a shot to knock them off, the Warriors leaned on their veteran leaders in crunch time. Both Colby Martin and Ryan Shirk knocked down key three-pointers late, and Brock Fassnacht added a nice base-line bucket to keep the Mounts at arm’s length as Warwick held on for a 55-46 victory.

“We have pretty good leadership and guys that have been through this,” Warwick coach Chris Christensen said. “They haven’t been up against something they haven’t seen yet. Obviously (allowing Ephrata to come back) wasn’t how we wanted to do it, but to keep it together and finish the game the way we did, we did a good job.”

With the win, Warwick improved it’s record to 6-0 in Section Two play (7-5 overall), and maintained a three-game lead over second place Elizabethtown as Joey McCracken led the Warriors with a game-high 19 points. Fassnacht added 14 and Martin chipped in 13 for the winners.

Ephrata, which dropped to 0-6 in section play (1-11 overall), was paced by Xavian Rodriguez, who dropped in 14 points while Lyle Kopp added 11.

The Mounts looked dead in the water after a first quarter that saw the Warriors shoot their way to a quick 19-7 lead, thanks to four treys (two by Martin) in the quarter.

Parke Haws did bank in a three at the buzzer to pull Ephrata to within 12, but the Warriors continued to increase the advantage early in the second. McCracken drained a three to start the period, and Fassnacht followed minutes later with another three-ball to up the advantage to 25-7, which would eventually become 33-13 by period’s end.

It was a first half Ephrata would like to forget as the Mounts turned it over 13 times and shot just 6-for-18 from the field.

But things turned around quickly in the third, but not before McCracken opened the period with a three to give his team a 23-point advantage.

Ephrata started attacking the basket offensively, and was getting stops at the defensive end. That led to a 12-0 run punctuated by a three-point play from Rodriguez to cut the deficit to 36-25 with 3:57 left in the third. After a McCracken basket at the other end momentarily stopped the bleeding, Ephrata closed the period on an 8-2 run as Jared Groff finished three buckets in traffic to suddenly get the Mounts to within seven at 40-33 with one period to go.

“The message at half-time was if you play with your maximum effort, if you focus on just giving the best effort that you can give for the next 16 minutes, the scoreboard will take care of itself,” Ephrata coach Jon Treese said. “The scoreboard situation will improve with that effort. I just think we had the right guys in the right position to make that run. They punched…and they punched for a full eight minutes.”

“Guys were hitting shots where maybe they just weren’t falling (in the first half),” Christensen said of the Mounts. “I’ve seen them play before. When they make shots they are pretty good. The second half it really started clicking for them. They made some shots and that’s a credit to them.”

Rodriguez got Ephrata even closer with a three-pointer to open the period and make it a four-point game. But just when it looked as though the Mounts may just overtake Warwick, the Warriors had their surge late, led by the aforementioned trio of seniors, to stave off the comeback bid and hold on for the win.

“We are kind of on a road stretch here…this is our second one of four so we have two more that we got to get,” Christensen said. “I told them a couple days ago, for the first time you got a target on your back. And the last couple years we haven’t had that. That’s something we are getting used to, just realizing we are going to get everyone’s best shot every night.”

Ephrata’s best wasn’t quite good enough on this night, but if the Mounts can put together quarters such as the third period Tuesday, they should have a chance to win some games down the stretch.

“I think the intensity on the defensive end is what made us confident at the offensive end,” Treese said. “If you believe you can stop somebody, it becomes a lot easier to score. We had some success defensively, put a few stops together and all of a sudden we started feeling like we had rhythm on offense. It’s something we hope to build off. We just have to find a way to sustain it.”

***

Last Friday night, senior Brock Fassnacht scored a career-high 22 points, leading the Warwick boys to a 71-57 win over Elizabethtown in a key Section Two clash in Lititz.

The win pushed the Warriors’ record to a perfect 5-0 in L-L play, three games ahead of the Bears and Lebanon, tied for second at 2-3 L-L.

With Warwick leading 12-10 early in the second, Fassnacht came off the bench and scored 10 straight points, and when Ryan Shirk’s layup capped a 12-4 run, the Warriors lead 24-14.

Larry Locker did his part to help keep the Bears close, finishing with 22 points as Elizabethtown remained close, 29-26, at the break.

Shirk finished with 18 points and Joey McCracken chipped in with 12 for the Warriors, who outscored the Bears 25-12 in the third to open up a commanding lead.

Elizabethtown shot just 50 percent at the foul line, going 11-of-22, and Warwick’s D forced 18 turnovers in the game.

***

Last Saturday, Fassnacht came back with another strong effort, scoring 10 points in a non-league game against Exeter, but it wasn’t enough, as the Warwick boys suffered a 48-37 non-league loss.

The Warriors were fighting an uphill battle after Exeter took a 17-11 first-quarter lead. Alex Javier netted a game-high 19 points to pace the Eagles.

Trysten George and McCracken chipped in with seven points apiece and the Warwick boys outscored Exeter 9-7 in the third to make it 35-30, but they could get no closer.

About digital editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *