L-L LEAGUE GIRLS' BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK Eagles remain on even keel
nLast week's loss to Ephrata will mean playoff for Section Two title, if both Mounts and Cocalico win tonight's regular-season finales. BY JASON FULGINITI, Sports Writer
Tony DiMatteo had just watched his Cocalico girls' basketball team get feasted on by Ephrata's swarming defense in a 38-28 loss Friday night.
But immediately following that setback, the Eagles' coach had already turned his attention to a different feast.
"We're having a (post-game) team function tonight," DiMatteo said. "We're going out to dinner. So we're going to relax and enjoy that."
Might sound hard to fathom considering the circumstances.
After all, all Cocalico's loss Friday night did was drop the Eagles (12-3 L-L, 16-4 overall) into a tie with Ephrata for the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two lead with one regular-season game remaining.
Not to mention the fact that Cocalico -- which was held to a season-low output against Ephrata -- will play its regular-season finale tonight at, of all places, Solanco, which was the last team to beat the Eagles prior to Friday.
That came on Jan. 9, when the Golden Mares (10-5, 13-8), interestingly enough, held Cocalico to what was then a season-low output in a 33-29 victory in Denver.
All of which DiMatteo knows.
"We control our own destiny," he said matter-of-factly.
It's a destiny that -- should the Eagles beat Solanco, and should Ephrata beat Lebanon (6-9, 9-12) tonight at home -- would culminate in a one-game, winner-takes-all playoff for the section title Thursday at 7 p.m. at Garden Spot.
That Ephrata seems to have the momentum in the season-long dual between the backyard rivals could be another concern for DiMatteo, whose team nipped the Mountaineers on the road (46-43) in their first meeting Jan. 7.
"When (Cocalico) beat us, they beat us by three (points) in the last 30 seconds," Ephrata senior forward Sarah Haddon said. "And (Friday) we beat them by (10).
"It's just that all the hard work is paying off. And (Friday) we went out and played our best game of the year."
As Ephrata coach Mike Garman stressed time and again Friday, the Mounts could need an equally strong effort tonight against Lebanon, which has been coming into its own in recent weeks.
While the Cedars are just 4-4 in their last eight games, those four losses were by a combined 15 points, with the most lopsided being a 43-36 defeat to Cocalico last Tuesday.
Prior to that, Lebanon lost to Solanco by two (42-40), to Hempfield by two (42-40) and to Penn Manor by four (45-41).
None of which was lost on Garman.
"We have to win Tuesday," he said. "Or this whole talk (about another meeting with Cocalico for the section title) doesn't mean anything."
Same goes for Cocalico, which will take on the league's leading scorer in Solanco's 6-foot-2 senior center Gillian Glackin (21.1 points per game) tonight.
A 1,000-point scorer, Glackin has scored 20 or more in 10 of the Mares' 21 games this season, and crested the 30-point mark three times.
She had 21 of Solanco's 33 points that last time the two teams met.
Regardless of how the Section Two title race pans out, Cocalico and Ephrata (with its victory last Friday) have already clinched the section's two berths for the L-L playoffs, which begin with next Tuesday's quarterfinals.
One ticket unclaimed: The only league playoff spot still up for grabs is in Section Three, where Northern Lebanon holds a one-game lead over Elco heading into tonight.
The Vikings (11-4 L-L, 14-7 overall) could have clinched that berth last Tuesday, but instead lost a 44-37 decision to Elco (10-5, 13-8) at home, putting the Raiders back in the hunt.
Now, in order to claim the final playoff spot outright, Northern Lebanon would have to win tonight at section leader Lampeter-Strasburg (14-1, 19-1), which clinched the Section Three title last Tuesday.
Should Northern Lebanon lose and Elco beat last-place Donegal (2-13, 4-14) tonight, the Raiders would earn the playoff bid via a tiebreaker, having swept Northern Lebanon in two meetings this season.
In addition to Cocalico, Ephrata and L-S, Manheim Township (15-0, 18-2) and Hempfield (11-4, 15-5) in Section One and Lancaster Catholic (15-0, 20-0) and Annville-Cleona (10-5, 13-8) in Section Four have already clinched L-L playoff berths.
Post presence: Manheim Township's 6-foot-3 junior forward Alexandra Leslie has quietly become a force on the low post and the Blue Streaks' leading scorer.
After averaging 9.5 points per game in Township's first eight outings, Leslie has averaged 14.7 ppg in the Streaks' 11 games since Jan. 1.
She now leads the team with 12.5 ppg, complementing interior threat Alex Ross, a 5-10 senior forward who is scoring at a 9.8 clip.
Kaitlyn VanTash, a 6-foot junior forward, is chipping in 8.7 points per game.