Late Game Heroics Lift Ephrata Past Penn Manor In Early Season Classic

For some, Monday night across the LLhoops landscape marked the beginning of a brand new season. Not so for Ephrata and Penn Manor. This past weekend, both the Comets and Mounts played in traditional early season tip off tournaments at Exeter and Lancaster Catholic respectively, with both squads coming away with 1-1 marks after the opening weekend of the season. With some early season momentum ripe for the taking at Ephrata Middle School on Monday night, both teams squared off in what would turn out to be an early season intersectional thriller.

The early going seemed like one of a heavyweight title fight with both teams taking their time to feel the opposition out. Case in point, Penn Manor did not have much activity below the foul line or even attempt their first shot until 40 seconds had run off the clock on their opening possession. Likewise, Ephrata also shared the sugar offensively with the Mounts working the ball around, looking for the best available shot. They finally found their answer to the Comet defensive riddle in Dilyn Becker as the senior guard scored the first bucket of the ballgame with 5:25 showing on the first quarter clock. The Mountaineer lead then ballooned to 5-0 when junior Zach McGillan wandered to his favorite spot on the floor, the corner, for yet another trifecta in his terrific Ephrata career for 3 of his game 17 points.

Undeterred, Penn Manor also found the touch from behind the arc as well for their first points of the ballgame when fellow junior Ty Erisman knocked down the 3 ball for the Comets to get them on the board. For the next few minutes however, the Mounts would go on a bit of a run to distance themselves from the visitors from Millersville as another McGillan 3 ball made it a 10-3 ballgame in favor of the Mounts, forcing Penn Manor to burn a timeout with 2:20 left in the opening quarter.

With the game hanging in such a critical balance that early, an answer from Penn Manor was needed. ASAP. They were able to find their rebuttal to Ephrata’s early-game success in the form of Kevin Roldan as the pesky junior guard finished off two easy lay-ins which cut into Ephrata’s lead before the first quarter buzzer finally sounded with Ephrata maintaining the narrow 1 point lead at 10-9.

The late momentum that Penn Manor was able to scoop up in the waning minutes of the first quarter carried over into the early stages of the second stanza as well as a bucket inside by Comet big man Josiah Edwards gave Penn Manor their first lead of the ballgame. But not before Ephrata’s Xavian Rodriguez was able to steal momentum right back with an old-fashioned three point play in the paint to put the Mounts back in front. Shortly thereafter, another tough battle inside won by Rodriguez culminated in yet another three point play that put the Mounts up by five at 16-11 with 5:40 left in the opening half. From there, the Ephrata lead doubled in size as an offensive board snatched down by the Mounts eventually saw the ball get into the hands of Sam Cable as the Ephrata senior was able to knock down the triple to put Ephrata in front by ten at 22-11 with 3:55 left in the half, forcing yet another Comet timeout to stop the Mount snowball from rolling downhill.

But unfortunately for the Comets, that would not turn out to be the case as a late Zach McGillan triple, his third of the half, put the exclamation mark on a dominating second quarter authored by the Mounts, as Ephrata held the Comets to just 4 second quarter points, leading 26-13 at the break.

Whatever was said to his troops by Penn Manor head coach Larry Bellow in the intermission seemed to be exactly what the doctor had ordered as the Comets came out of the locker room on a torrid start. After a 3 ball by Ty Erisman got the second half scoring underway, another 3 ball, this one splashed down by Reed Morrison, cut the Ephrata halftime advantage down to just five at 26-21 with 4:37 left in the third, forcing Ephrata this time to call a timeout and regroup.

Although a Dilyn Becker drive to the tin would quell Penn Manor’s scintillating second half start to some degree, another Comet triple, this one from senior forward Colin Morrison, kept Penn Manor in the thick of it at 31-26 with 3:15 showing on the third quarter clock. From there, Penn Manor continued to ride their hot shooting from behind the arc as another trifecta, this one from Luis Tamayo, cut Ephrata’s once impressive lead down to just a bucket at 31-29.

Although Ephrata wasn’t about to simply relinquish their lead without a fight, as evidenced by Xavian Rodriguez’s emphatic swat on a would-be layup to put the Comets in front, Penn Manor continued to remain on the attack and was rewarded for doing so as a late quarter drive to the rack by Kevin Roldan for 2 of his team high 12 points, put the Comets back in front 32-31 as the third quarter expired.

Now with the shoe being on the other foot, it was Ephrata who was forced to find an answer for Penn Manor’s surge of momentum. Fortunately for the Yellow and Purple, they have a reliable answerbank in Dilyn Becker to call on in times of need. And it just so happened that an early Becker turnaround jumper to start the quarter put the Mounts back in front in this seesaw affair. The back and forth battle raged on as a Josiah Edwards bucket plus the harm put the Comets back in front 34-33 with 5:21 left to play. But as is the case with most any team with lofty preseason expectations, Ephrata has more than one weapon that can do damage. Never was that more apparent than when Zach McGillan tallied a bucket of his own to put the Mounts back in front 35-34.

Bucket for bucket. That was the theme as the fourth quarter continued on. Penn Manor would have their turn to answer McGillan’s basket with an excellent offensive possession that saw the Comets get Ephrata unbalanced off superb ball rotation before the extra pass found its way to Ty Erisman who let it fly from behind the arc and promptly rained down a triple to put Penn Manor back in front 37-35. Ironically, the next basket of the contest would get away from the alternating theme that had ensued over the previous few minutes as a Kevin Roldan steal and layup put the Comets up by four at 41-37 with 2:23 to play.

Ephrata was able to inch closer following the late Comet barrage with a McGillan hoop, which was immediately followed by a timely steal by Dilyn Becker on the Ephrata end as the Mount possession ended with Sam Cable being fouled and converting 1-2 from the stripe to bring the Mounts within a point at 41-40.

With the game on the line, Penn Manor was the first to answer the bell as a free throw from Ty Erisman allowed Penn Manor to get some additional breathing room before a Luis Tamayo bucket gave them even more with the Comets now in front 44-40.

Just as he had all game though, Xavian Rodriguez’s hustle plays, the ones that won’t appear on many flashy highlight mixes, proved to be the difference in the ballgame as time after time his plays stemmed the tide away from the Comets just when the Mounts needed it most. And once again, another Rodriguez-won battle under the rim resulted in a hoop plus the harm, for a change of momentum that put Ephrata within a point at 44-43.

With Penn Manor being unable to manufacture anything in their ensuing offensive set, Ephrata saw themselves with the ball and time running out. And once again, Dilyn Becker had the ultimate answer as the Mounts’ senior guard rose up off the dribble and knocked down a coldblooded triple from the elbow-extended to put Ephrata back in the lead 46-44, making the cozy gymnasium roar like a 747 jet engine.

pict by@JoBethWeaver12

As was the case for most of the fourth quarter, Penn Manor was hoping that the theme of alternating baskets would come true just one more time. This one meaning that the Comets would be able to ride back to Millersville with a hard-fought victory. Unfortunately for the Comets however, that would not come to pass as Penn Manor’s last shot of the ballgame cruelly bounced off the front rim for the Comet faithful, giving Ephrata a dramatic early-season defining triumph over a gritty Section 1 ballclub in Penn Manor, 46-44.

NEXT UP: Ephrata will continue with the Section 1 flavor on the schedule this week as the Mounts will take on longtime rival Warwick before finishing up the week with up and comer E-Town back at Ephrata.

Penn Manor will look to regroup this week as the Comets make their home debut on Wednesday night as the Comets play host to Kennard-Dale, and one of the best players in the York-Adams League, southpaw guard Adam Freese. Penn Manor will close out this week’s action by also squaring off with Warwick with the game between the Warriors and Comets set for Thursday night in Millersville.

Spartan Backcourt Sets The Pace As Garden Spot Races Past Twin Valley For Opening Night Victory

On Friday night the ball was officially tossed into the air in gyms across the state signifying the start of another season of high school hoops. And for the Garden Spot Spartans, the 2017-18 campaign began like many others of recent memory as the Spartans made the short trek eastward on Route 23 to get their season underway at the Twin Valley Tipoff Tournament. This year against the host Raiders.

For fans of fantastic guard play, set your GPS destination to New Holland this winter. This year’s Spartan bunch features a talented crop of primary and secondary ball handlers that can attack the glass, penetrate and pitch, and oh yes, also knock down the 3 ball.

On Friday night, the cast of Keontae Nunn, Jacob Arndt, Jordan Shewbridge, and a host of others put on a dizzying display in Elverson as the Spartans jumped on their hosts early and never looked back.

Although Twin Valley scored the first bucket of the contest, Garden Spot responded emphatically by rattling off the next 9 behind two triples from senior marksman Jordan Shewbridge, coupled with a nifty spinning move inside by fellow senior guard Jacob Arndt, which put the bow on the early 9-0 Garden Spot run. Although a Kenny Miller jumper was able to finally to douse the flames of Spot’s initial fiery start, the Spartans would respond with yet another run as a steal and lay in by Keontae Nunn put GS back up by a dozen at 16-4 with 3:20 left in the opening quarter.

Twin Valley would inch closer on the scoreboard over the next few minutes behind a 5-0 run authored by junior point guard Bernie Blunt, but Garden Spot would continue to have the answer as a Jonathan Morales tip in made it a 22-9 score in favor of Garden Spot before the Spartans went on to close the first quarter in command, leading 24-11.

Once the second quarter got underway, Twin Valley continued to methodically plot their course, trying to trim Garden Spot’s lead bit by bit. To Twin Valley’s credit, the Spartan advantage would eventually be cut to 10 at 25-15 after a nice spin move inside by the Raiders’ dominating inside force of Jeremy Deihm. But much like in the first stanza however, Garden Spot refused to flinch in the face of whatever momentum Twin Valley was able to muster as a step back 3 ball by Javi Westmoreland put a stop to the Raider flurry and simultaneously saw the Spartan lead swell to 32-15 midway through the second frame.

After the Westmoreland triple, it was Twin Valley’s turn to go on a bit of a run as the Raiders went on to outscore Garden Spot 7-2 over the next few minutes. Behind a two-handed slam by Kenny Miller and a trifecta by Aidan Kaplan, Twin Valley was able to use their late half rally to slice Garden Spot’s lead back down to 12 with time winding down in the initial half of action, with the host Raiders hoping for a manageable deficit to work within once the second half got underway. Unfortunately for Twin Valley, a Javi Westmoreland tip in just before the horn seemed apropos for how the second half would turn out as well as Garden Spot raced into the locker room in possession of the 36-22 lead.

For as much as of an offense showcase that Garden Spot put on in the first half, the Spartans’ defensive performance in the third quarter may have been equally as impressive. And yes, the Garden Spot offense did come to play out of the intermission as well. Namely Jordan Shewbridge. Garden Spot’s battle-tested, senior guard was able to start the second half off with a bang as Shewbridge went on his own personal 7-0 run to start the second half, forcing Twin Valley to call a timeout and regroup, still scoreless to that point, with 5:03 remaining in the third.

As mentioned, the third quarter defense employed by Garden Spot put Twin Valley in a tizzy. So much so in fact that Garden Spot was able to pitch a shutout for over half the quarter as a tip in by Jeremy Deihm with under four minutes to go in the quarter finally got the Raiders on the board in the second half. From there, Deihm was able to close out the quarter by knocking down a pair of free throws to make it a 20 point deficit at 49-29 to start the fourth and final quarter.

Unfortunately for Twin Valley, the hill, much like the one that their school sits upon, was just too step to climb. Although the Raiders were able to cut the Garden Spot lead down to 14 after a three point play by Jeremy Diehm which made it a 50-36 ballgame with 6:14 left to go, Garden Spot was still able to pull away late.

The banks were open late on a Friday night in Elverson for junior Jonathan Vergoen as his bucket from behind the arc helped aid the runaway cause before one last highlight reel play from the Spartans on opening night as a rejection inside by sophomore big man Andrew Zenter led to a Garden Spot runout which Jordan Shewbridge was able to finish with a put back for two of his game high 21 points.

With time winding down, junior Matthew Sharp became the beneficiary of a beautifully designed out of bounds play down the stretch to chip into the opening night victory with a deuce, before fellow junior Josiah Snader got in on the act himself with a nice backdoor cut along the baseline for the easy lay in which help put the wraps on Garden Spot’s dominating opening night victory 67-47. With their triumph on Friday night, the Spartans advance to the title match on Saturday afternoon back at Twin Valley High School for a 1:30 tip time against Owen J. Roberts.

llhoops.com 2017-18 Section 1 Preseason Watchlist

DISCLAIMER: This list is based upon rosters submitted last season and information gathered in the offseason. These lists do not account for ALL unknown transfers, injuries, incoming freshmen, or those who are no longer playing hoops this upcoming season

Logan Horn: Cedar Crest

Jaiden Melendez: Cedar Crest

Blake Thomson: Cedar Crest

Cole Laney: Cedar Crest

Logan Monroe: Conestoga Valley

Austin Monroe: Conestoga Valley

Ryan Moffatt: Hempfield

David Martin-Robinson: Hempfield

Luis Aquino-Rios: Lebanon

Brendan Mellott: Manheim Township

Tyler Crespo: Manheim Township

Zach Oldac: Manheim Township

Isiah Speller: McCaskey

Ray Godwin: McCaskey

Drew Greenawalt: Penn Manor

Bryan Rottkamp: Warwick

LLhoops.com 2017-18 Section 2 Preseason Watchlist

DISCLAIMER: This list is based upon rosters submitted last season and information gathered in the offseason. These lists do not account for ALL unknown transfers, injuries, incoming freshmen, or those who are no longer playing hoops this upcoming season

Aidan Trynosky: Cocalico

Avery Walker: Donegal

Michael Lyons: Donegal

Elijah Swanigan: Donegal

Ryan Parise: E-Town

Cade Robinson: E-Town

Larry Locker: E-Town

Bradley DaBella: Ephrata

Dilyn Becker: Ephrata

Xavian Rodriguez: Ephrata

Kellito Westmoreland: Garden Spot

Jordan Shewbridge: Garden Spot

Keontae Nunn: Garden Spot

Ryan Smith: L-S

Isaac Beers: L-S

Connor Hostetter: Manheim Central

Evan Simon: Manheim Central

Jake Novak: Manheim Central

Dawson Kreider: Solanco

Aaron Constein: Solanco

Zed Baker: Solanco

LLhoops.com 2017-18 Section 3 Preseason Watchlist

DISCLAIMER: This list is based upon rosters submitted last season and information gathered in the offseason. These lists do not account for ALL unknown transfers, injuries, incoming freshmen, or those who are no longer playing hoops this upcoming season

Noah Myers: Annville-Cleona

Donald Friday: Annville-Cleona

Ryan Mathews: Annville-Cleona

Meleik Crenshaw: Columbia

Jaden Neal: Columbia

Jeff Lorah: ELCO

Blake Weary: ELCO

R.J. Van Tash: Lancaster Catholic

Carter Hurst: Lancaster Mennonite

Johnathon Gillespie: Lancaster Mennonite

Kyle Kauffman: Lebanon Catholic

Humberto Valerio: Lebanon Catholic

Michigan Daub: Northern Lebanon

Alex Yeager: Northern Lebanon

Malachi Glick: Pequea Valley