Warriors extend win streak to five

By on January 21, 2015
Warwick’s Nate Miller (11) and Grant Zimmerman battle an Ephrata player for a rebound in last Friday’s game. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Warwick’s Nate Miller (11) and Grant Zimmerman battle an Ephrata player for a rebound in last Friday’s game. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

As a young team, the Ephrata boys are well aware of their vulnerability late in games.

Last Friday, Warwick knew it too.

“We don’t have a lot of depth,” Mounts’ coach Jason Coletti said. “I’ve got to credit Warwick &tstr; they go after you and they wear you down.”

That was evident in that the Warriors forced six of Ephrata’s 20 turnovers in the final stanza, fueling them on a key 16-1 fourth-quarter run.

In the end, senior Nate Miller tied his career-high with 24 points, in addition to grabbing eight rebounds, as the Warwick boys earned their fourth-straight victory by defeating back-yard rival Ephrata 66-56 in a Section One-Two crossover. James Willis chipped in with 13 points for the Warriors.

“(Ephrata) played hard all game and we were hoping to kinda wear them down, especially the two scorers (Matt McGillan and Nathan Zimmerman) that they have,” Warwick skipper Jeff Landis said. “That didn’t work with Zimmerman, he stayed hot all night … I think, like, the last five minutes, (our) guys really lock down and guard and really dig in. I know it’s hard to do that for 32 minutes, but we’ve got to do a better job of less breakdowns on defense. Give Ephrata credit. They ran their stuff really well.”

On Tuesday, Warwick ran its stuff really well, as Willis finished with 18 points to lead three players in double figures and the Warriors earned their fifth straight win, defeating Penn Manor 59-49 in Millersville. Miller added 16 and Cipalla had 13.

The WHS boys led 27-20 at the half and the Comets were still within 39-35 at the start of the fourth. But Warwick outscored the Comets 20-14 down the stretch to put it away. Willis was 7-of-8 from the foul line and the Warriors finished the game shooting 10-of-17 from the stripe.

With the victory, the Warriors improved to 9-3 in in Section One (12-6 overall).

Last Friday against Ephrata, Zimmerman’s hot hand resulted in a game-high 25 points, including six treys, and his triple with 6:38 left in the fourth sliced Warwick’s lead to 46-45.

Miller, capitalizing on a side advantage inside, countered with eight points &tstr; including a couple of putbacks &tstr; in the Warriors’ ensuing burst which put them in front 62-46 with 1:47 left.

To Ephrata’s credit, though, they didn’t go away. Zimmerman’s inside deuce, followed by a layup by McGillan (16 points) got the Mounts within seven, 63-56, with 44 seconds remaining.

After a Warwick giveaway, Ephrata’s Sam Cable attempted a ‘three’ to narrow the gap even more. It didn’t fall, however, and Warwick’s James Willis pulled down the rebound, and then he and Grant Zimmerman went a combined 3-of-4 at the foul line in the final 31.2 ticks to put it away.

“We played well all the way up until (Zimmerman’s trey to make the score 46-45) and at, like, the four or five-minute mark, the turnover bug caught up to us,” Coletti remarked. “We had two or three bad possessions and they went down and capitalized and then you’re fighting that uphill battle again.”

For Warwick, the win improved them to 8-3 L-L (11-6 overall). They are fourth in the Section One standings &tstr; two games behind second-place McCaskey (10-1 L-L) for an L-L playoff berth &tstr; and 13th in the District 3 Quad-A power ratings.

“We can’t lose because my parents went to Ephrata,” Landis quipped. “It’s a nice rivalry. The students get into it. It was one we needed. To get to where we want to, this is one we had to have.”

Ephrata would have loved to play the spoiler role, in addition to helping their own outlook, but instead fell to 2-9 L-L (3-12 overall). They are three games behind Lebanon, E-town and CV, all tied atop the Section Two standings at 5-6.

They gave Warwick a scare early on. There were three ties within the first four-plus minutes, but Miller, Willis and Jordan Cipalla combined to score 10 points in the paint in the opening stanza, and the Warriors took a 16-12 lead after one.

“They’re well-coached, they play hard,” Landis said of Ephrata, “but they have trouble defending the post. Hempfield’s post is a real nice player, but he’s a three-point shooter and he had 16 in the paint against Ephrata. Nate’s a strong kid and in the first three minutes of the game, we didn’t score, but we were getting good shots that just weren’t dropping. Instead of panicking, they just stayed with it.”

The Warwick boys took their biggest lead of the half when Kyle Weaver drained a ‘three’ with 4:56 left to make it 23-15. But Zimmerman caught fire for the Mounts, netting seven points in a 9-2 run, and his layup with 2:47 remaining in the half brought Ephrata within one, 25-24.

Inside buckets by Warwick’s Grant Zimmerman and Adam Wagaman pushed their edge back to 29-24 going to the locker room, and then Miller’s deuce early in the third extended the lead to 31-24.

Once again, however, the Mounts proved pesky. Christian Miles connected against Warwick’s zone defense to send Ephrata on a 12-4 surge, capped by Zimmerman’s triple to give them a 36-35 advantage with 3:57 remaining in the third.

“It surprised me a little bit that Warwick would play zone,” Coletti said. “They’re typically a man-to-man team. We just talked (at the half) about how to beat their zone and we had a little difficulty with it, but for the most part, they did a good job.”

The Mounts’ lead was short-lived, as Cipalla (7 points) quickly hit a triple and the Warriors scored nine unanswered points. Wagaman, who finished with eight points and five boards off the bench, made his presence felt in that spurt, dropping in two putbacks to help put Warwick up 44-36.

“Adam is coming, he’s getting there,” Landis said. “It was a big setback when he went down in the last football game, but he’s worked hard to get himself back in shape and tonight he finished, which is a sign that he’s back into basketball shape.”

“Credit to our guys, they battled,” Coletti added, “but when you’ve got a guy like that coming in fresh and you’re kinda tired … even if you were fresh, it’d be a mismatch down low.”

Late three-pointers by Zimmerman and Micah Krauter got the Mounts within two points, 44-42, at period’s end, and then with 1:22 elapsed in the fourth, Zimmerman’s sixth and final trey made it a one-point game, 46-45.

But they would get no closer.

The Warriors were also in action last Wednesday, Jan. 14, getting a game-high 20 points from James Willis and defeating Conestoga Valley 55-52 in Witmer. Kyle Weaver added 10 points in the win.

For the game, Warwick shot 14-of-18 from the foul line, and Willis’ two free throws with 10 seconds remaining sealed the deal.

The Buckskins, on the strength of an 11-0 run, took a 26-23 lead in the second quarter. But the Warriors, who got eight points from Nate Miller and seven from Jordan Cipalla, rallied to go in front 32-27 at the half and then held on down the stretch.

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