Barons put Ephrata in a Funk

By on December 12, 2013

Manheim Central’s Dan Wiederrecht (right) rips a rebound away from Ephrata’s Nathan Zimmerman (14) as teammate Josh Flanagan (21) looks on. Photo by Stan Hall

Manheim Central’s Dan Wiederrecht (right) rips a rebound away from Ephrata’s Nathan Zimmerman (14) as teammate Josh Flanagan (21) looks on. Photo by Stan Hall

Freshman ignites MC rally in 66-59 win

Manheim Central was facing an uphill battle Monday night in Ephrata in the Mounts’ season opener.

Down 15-7 after one period of play, the Barons were in search of a spark. And they found it in the form of 6-7 freshman Taylor Funk.

The ninth grader looked like a poised veteran as he scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the second period as the Barons clawed to within two points at the break (30-28).

That, along with a stifling full-court press that was quite effective, put the Barons (2-1) in position to eventually take the lead in the third and set the stage for a big 66-59 road win for the visitors.

“The freshman made some big shots,” Manheim Central Coach Chris Sherwood said. “He made some freshman mistakes on the defensive end, but these are things we’ll work on. He made some huge shots for us, he’s a great kid to coach, and he wants to be coached. When you are a freshman who has skills, and wants to be coached, boy that is a great combination.”

While Funk played a big part, he wasn’t the only Baron to have a big night. Junior guard Dan Wiederrecht was a factor down the stretch, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. That proved to be huge for the Barons, who lost star Matt Walsh (15 points) to fouls with more than six minutes left.

“When you lose your best scorer and your best everything…I’m not going to beat around the bush. We all know Matt’s our bread and butter. And we lost him,” Sherwood said. “I will tell you right now, that is guys playing (other) varsity sports. That is us having varsity soccer players who played in District semifinal games, and that’s us having varsity football players who played in Hersheypark (Stadium). That’s what that is. (Wiederrecht, a football player) was fearless. He was like, ‘boy, this isn’t Bishop McDevitt in football so I might as well do what I can.’ He was begging for the ball.”

While the Barons found their game after a rough first period, Ephrata appeared out of sorts for most of the contest. Turnovers plagued Ephrata (20 for the game), and the Mounts didn’t help themselves at the charity stripe either, going 23 of 37 from the free throw line for the game.

“I still like our team,” Ephrata Coach Jason Coletti said, despite the loss. “(Manheim Central) is going to be a playoff team. It was a playoff-caliber team, and we know we can play with them but we still don’t do the little things that win games. We shoot ourselves in the foot. We miss foul shots and turn the ball over at inopportune times. We just have to work on the little things and get better at it.”

Ephrata, playing in its first action of the season, got out to a fast 9-2 start in this one. The Mounts forced five turnovers during that early stretch, and offensively they capitalized. Aaron Hubbard, who led all scorers with 23 points on the night, nailed a big three during that stretch while fellow seniors Brady Sipe (10) and Roman Heckstall (7) also contributed at the offensive end.

The Mounts opened up the lead to 15-5 on a jumper from Aaron Huston (11) but Central’s Colin Brubaker’s lay-up with six seconds to go made it an eight-point game heading to the second quarter.

Sipe drained a three to start the quarter and gave the Mounts their biggest lead of the night (18-7). However, that would be Ephrata’s last field goal through the next five and a half minutes as the Barons press fueled a 17-7 surge that included three long-range threes from Funk.

The Mounts turned the ball over six times during that stretch, thanks to the suffocating trap by the MC defense.“We came into the season wanting to do a lot of that,” Sherwood said of the press. “But due to some unforeseen circumstances with numbers, we kind of broke away from that a little bit. And I don’t want to say we sat around and kind of felt sorry for ourselves, but there is a chance that we did. We just said, ‘you know what, let’s go back to what we thought was going to get us here.’”

According to Coletti, Ephrata was ready for it. The Mounts (0-1) just didn’t do a great job handling it.

“We knew it was coming and we worked on it,” he said. “We still haven’t figured out how to stay calm against the press. We got real quick, two passes, break it and shoot a quick shot…that is what the press wants you to do. The press automatically speeds you up but you just have to stay calm against it. We’ll keep working at it.”

A Wiederrecht basket midway through the third put the Barons ahead for good at 36-35, and they carried a one-point advantage (40-39 into the final period.

However, up three, Walsh committed his fifth foul with 6:32 still left to play. But still, the Barons were able to pull away. Hubbard did eventually cut it to one with his third three pointer of the night at the 5:24 mark, but Manheim broke it open with a quick 7-0 spurt that was punctuated by a three-point play by Wiederrecht with four minutes to go.

The Barons then went 6-for-8 from the foul line down the stretch to put it away for good.

“That was a gutsy performance tonight by our guys,” Sherwood said. “As tough as Ephrata plays, as well-coached as they are, and then to fall down early to them in their home opener…that was a gutsy performance from our players and they deserve the credit.”

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