Spring Grove High boys' basketball head coach Ryan Luckman knew what his team needed to do Tuesday night against West York to win. The trouble was the execution, as West York used nine threes to sink Spring Grove, 74-61.
"I knew we needed to play zone because they are very good off the dribble-drive and we needed to make sure we closed out on the shooters," Luckman said.
Spring Grove executed that in the first quarter as the Rockets battled their way to a 15-15 tie behind seven points from Nick Spangler.
Midway through the second quarter, the Rockets' Logan Hagerman sank two free throws to close a West York lead to one before the Bulldogs scored five points over the next 30 seconds to take a 6-point lead.
West York outscored Spring Grove 22-14 in the second quarter, in large part to four threes, three of them from Kevin Rice, to take a 37-29 lead into the half. That would be the closest the Rockets would get as West York came out of the half and used crisp inside passing and three baskets from behind the arc to extend their lead to 54-41 after three quarters.
"They really broke us down midway through the second and third quarters," Luckman said. "We weren't getting our hands up and they were able to knock down their shots. They are really good shooters and, if you are going to leave them open, they are going to knock them down."
West York outrebounded Spring Grove 36-23, thanks in large part to Nick Traettino's and freshman Darian McCauley's domination down low.
"I am always disappointed when we get outrebounded," Luckman said. "It is just a want-to kind of thing. A lot of their rebounds we didn't get out there on them soon enough. Instead of going out to where they were and boxing out, we just waited for them to come to us and, if they are bigger and stronger, they are going to push you under a little more, and now they have all the room, and that's what they did tonight."
Despite the 13-point win, West York head coach Bill Ackerman wasn't at all pleased with his team's performance.
"Giving up 61 points is not good enough," he said. "We got lucky that we hit nine threes. If not, we lose the game. I am very disappointed in the mental game. It has to change because we have Dover tomorrow night at Dover."
On the offensive end of the court, Ackerman observed his team draining one open shot after another and, when the Bulldogs would drive the lane, they always seemed to find the open man.
"I thought we did very well offensively," he added. "That isn't the problem. I don't think offense is every the problem for us, but our mental game is the aspect I am very disappointed in."
For Spring Grove, the answer defensively could be attributed to a lack of experience in running the 2-3 zone, which led to a lot of frustration from the Rockets.
"This was the first time we have run it in a game this season," Nick Spangler said. "We have been working on it in practice. We did a good job at first, but there were times we left their shooters open and with shooters like Rice, you can't do that."
Hagerman led the Rockets with 19 points, including four threes.
"When Spangler shoots the ball well for us, he adds a whole new dimension to our team," Luckman said. "We don't have a team full of consistent shooters and him shooting well keeps us in the game at times. It also opens up driving lanes for other guys.
McCauley not only dominated the glass for West York but he also led the Bulldogs in scoring with 19, a performance that did not go unnoticed by either coach.
"McCauley was a monster all night," Luckman said. "They went on three runs that hurt us and then we just couldn't stop McCauley at all."
"Darien always comes to play, and he is a freshman," Ackerman said. "That is a credit to him. I told him two weeks ago that you are not a freshman anymore. You are a varsity player, and he plays that way. Look, if we can get everyone to play like Darian, we will be just fine and I will have no complaints."
WEST YORK (74)
Lopez 0 0-0 0, Bailey 2 0-0 5, Kyle Einsig 3 2-2 10, Cable 1 0-0 3, Frey 0 0-0 0, Snellbaker 0 0-2 0, Neff 2 0-0 4, Kevin Rice 6 0-0 17, Woodard 2 0-0 4, Neiderer 0 2-4 2, Darian McCauley 8 2-4 18, Wood 1 0-0 2, Traettino 0 0-0 0, Weekly 4 1-4 9, Kinneman 0 0-0 0, Torres 0 0-0 0. Totals 29 7-16 74.
SPRING GROVE (61)
Logan Hagerman 4 3-4 11, Miller 0 1-2 1, Darrien Gaskins 5 3-3 14, Wildasin 0 0-0 0, Nick Spangler 7 1-2 19, Kline 0 2-2 2, Marshall 1 0-0 3, Sheffer 0 4-5 4, Krause 1 0-2 2, Schumacher 0 0-0 0, Gordon 1 3-6 5, Troxel 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 17-26 61.
West York 15 22 17 20 -- 74
Spring Grove 15 14 12 20 -- 61
3-point goals -- West York 9 (Rice 5, Einsig 2, Bailey, Cable), Spring Grove 6 (Spangler 4, Gaskins, Marshall).
JV score -- West York 62, Spring Grove 36.