Once the York Suburban girls' basketball team got back to basics, everything went just as the Trojans wanted.
Taking on Dallastown in Friday's first round of the York Suburban Holiday Classic, the Trojans backed away from aggressive tactics within their man-to-man defense to compensate for the Wildcats' speed.
That allowed Dallastown to dictate the pace of the game and take a six-point lead in the second half.
Increased pressure, a few forced turnovers and an 11-point burst that bridged the third and fourth quarters helped the Trojans pull ahead and hold on for a 41-37 victory.
Suburban takes on defending District 3 Class AAA champion Lancaster Mennonite in the title match tonight at 7:30. The Blazers blew out Littlestown, 54-27, in Friday's first game.
"We got up and pressed them a little bit and all of a sudden they got rattled and turned the ball over for us a couple times," York Suburban coach Bob Rudisill said. "I really think that surge gave us the confidence. "We knew that they could beat Dallastown and we certainly knew they could beat us.
"But once we got the game tied at the end of the third quarter, it gave us a little bit of confidence and we came out and took a lead and I'm not sure they ever tied the game after that."
No, they never did. Suburban (6-3) never led by more than five points, and Dallastown (2-7) did have possession while trailing by only three points on four different occasions, but was unable to come up with a critical basket.
"The biggest thing is we have just had some key possessions that haven't gone our way," Dallastown coach Tory Harvey said. "We just need to find a way to maximize our possessions and when the opportunity is there, we need to capitalize."
Dallastown's Jess Eckard scored in the post to make it 39-37 with 27 seconds left, but Suburban's Kelsey Reed drew a foul 12 seconds later and converted one of her two free throws.
The Wildcats quickly moved the ball down court and Eckard had a good look at a 3-pointer from the right wing, but her shot bounced off the rim and was corralled by Suburban's Karli Swartz.
The senior forward was fouled with 1.6 seconds left and converted one of her two free throws to essentially clinch the victory. Swartz and fellow senior Lauren Hogsett led the Trojans with nine points each.
Jenna Miller scored a team-high 14 points and was responsible for half of Dallastown's fourth-quarter scoring, but the rest of the squad struggled against a relentless Suburban defense that stepped up in the clutch.
Of Dallastown's 20 turnovers, 14 came in the second half.
"We really kept our composure," Swartz said. "That's the biggest thing from past years. In past years, we would really get frantic. This time we kept our composure."
Patience prevails for Mennonite: Littlestown was able to hold Lancaster Mennonite to 5-for-20 shooting in the first quarter, but managed only three points of its own and failed to get much of a rhythm going on offense. The Thunderbolts (6-3) had almost as many turnovers (25) as they did points in their Game 1 loss.
"They just wait," Littlestown coach Don Baker said of the Blazers (6-1). "They wait until they get what they want and they take it. It's one of the hardest thing in girls' basketball there is to teach and they have it down pretty well pat."
Katelyn Vanderhoff (16 points) and Jess Rheinheimer (10 points) led the Blazers as they pulled ahead by 29 points before the end of the third quarter.
Powered offensively by Kelsey Wantz (nine points, six rebounds), the Thunderbolts did outscore the Blazers in the fourth quarter, giving a relatively positive ending to an otherwise frustrating night.
"It's something to build on for the young team we have," Baker said. "We're young, we're learning, we'll get there."