And that was just fine with Dallastown.
Dallastown (2-1 Division I, 5-1 overall) seems to thrive when the outcome of the game hangs on effort or defense.
The Wildcats held on for a 39-38 boys' basketball victory at home against Red Lion, but not before they almost squandered a 10-point, second-half lead.
"We've been in a lot of games of toughness," Dallastown's Mitch Small said, "when it comes down to the last play and stepping up on 'D'."
Red Lion (2-1, 4-2) had one opportunity to win the game. Austin Huson shot a 3-pointer from the top of the key with about three seconds left in regulation, but his shot hit the front of the rim and bounced out of bounds allowing Dallastown to take possession with 1.7 seconds remaining. Red Lion managed to get the ball back but couldn't find an open man on a desperation in-bounds play that needed to travel almost the length of the court.
Small -- a 6-foot junior guard -- scored a game-high 13 points on his birthday. He scored eight of those points in the third quarter. All of his field goals came in or near the paint, taking on taller defenders to snap Dallastown out of an offensive funk.
"I try to get started going to the hole, and then I try to build my confidence from that," Small said. "I know I'm good at getting to the rim, so that's what I like to do."
Red Lion worked its way back in the game by hitting five 3-pointers, including three in the final quarter. The Lions also held Dallastown to just one field goal in the fourth quarter. Dallastown coach Mike Grassel said he wouldn't change much about the pivotal fourth, except for two missed free throws in one-and-one situations late in the game.
"You know what, I'd do it again tomorrow, and we'd set up and knock down free throws," Grassel said.
Red Lion's attempted comeback also was possible because the Lions guards snapped out of their first-half funk, in which the Lions committed 11 turnovers to Dallastown's four. Red Lion's guard didn't react to Dallastown's defense, dribbling right into a trap or losing the ball because they didn't see a defender.
"We just didn't play well," Red Lion coach Steve Schmehl said. "Honestly to lose that game by one point, it was kind of amazing. ... (Red Lion players) tried. It's just they weren't real aggressive and weren't taking advantage of opportunities they had and played scared at times."
Schmehl tried to explain to his players at halftime that they could still win the game.
"Guys, we just can't play any worse, and somehow we're only down by four points," Schmehl said.
Red Lion scored the final five points of the third quarter to spark the Lions' 13-9 effort in the fourth.
RED LION (38)
E. Miller 1 0-0 3, Huson 1 0-0 3, McCreary 1 0-0 3, Fox 2 1-4 5, Kevin Hutchinson 5 0-4 12, Cahill 2 2-2 6, Rebuck 3 0-0 6, Wanbaugh 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 3-10 38.
Gibbs 1 2-2 5, Mitch Small 6 1-4 13, E. Sutton 0 0-0 0, J. Sutton 1 0-0 3, Henry 2 0-0 4, Robertson 3 0-0 6, Marks 0 0-0 0, Doorn 2 4-6 8, Ludwig 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 7-12 39.
Red Lion 10 4 11 13 -- 38
Dallastown 10 8 12 9 -- 39
3-point goals -- Red Lion 5 (Hutchinson 2, McCreary, Huson, Miller); Dallastown 2 (Gibbs, J. Sutton).
JV score -- Red Lion 45, Dallastown 44