Related: West York beats York Catholic
Jim Seip: Pair of tough teams to tangle for YAIAA girls' basketball title
York, PA -
Dallastown found out first hand how Dover made it to Tuesday's YAIAA girls basketball tournament semifinal without losing a game this season.
In front of a packed house at Central York, the Wildcats built up a comfortable lead, only to see the Eagles start the fourth quarter with an 11-1 run and cut the deficit to two.
But with Dover keeping up the pressure that forced eight turnovers in the fourth quarter, Dallastown sophomore Amari Johnson was able to get loose coming out of a timeout, hit a layup and was fouled.
The three-point play with four minutes remaining ended the Eagles run of magic and Dallastown went on to hand Dover its first loss of the season, 53-41.
The Wildcats improved to 18-6 and will face West York in Thursday's YAIAA championship game at York College, after the Bulldogs defeated York Catholic, 59-54, in Tuesday's nightcap.
The victory also gave Dallastown redemption after the Eagles won the earlier meeting between the two, 43-40.
"Dover did a hell of a job of being intense and in your face. But I just think the girls were more mentally tough and ready to compete. It got a little shaky there, but I think when we called a timeout and it really settled everybody down."
After Johnson made it 40-35, the Wildcats defense forced tough shots and turnovers. Plus, hitting 8-of-10 free throws in the final three minutes made it too difficult for Dover to come back from.
Shae Grim's layup put the Wildcats up 45-35 with two minutes to play. A Holly Fox 3-pointer and Kara Funk layup pulled the Eagles within 49-41 with 35 seconds left, but Grim buried four foul shots in the next two possessions.
Suddenly the team that suffered several close losses during the season is one of the hottest heading into the title game and the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs.
"Everybody watched themselves on film and attacked what they needed to do and they are a better basketball team because of those tough losses in January," Manlove said. "We are playing the way we are now with confidence because of those experiences. The will to win is stronger than anything we have ever had with this group before."
Defensive stalwart Alex Lehman agreed, adding that the Wildcats' one-sided first-round playoff win against Delone Catholic helped.
"It definitely fueled our confidence. It's like, why can't we do it?" she said of her team's chances to win the tournament. "We lost how many games by one? It was time."
Dover fell to 23-1, but remains the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class AAAA tournament. Eagles coach Troy Lokhaiser said his team was emotional in the locker room after its first loss.
"We talked about regrouping. We are still a No. 1 seed in AAAA and we talked about coming back and playing like a No. 1 seed," he said. "It was a great game, I knew it would be. That is what it is all about."
Jenna Jackson drilled a pair of second-quarter 3-pointers, helping Dallastown take a 24-15 lead to halftime. The senior hit 6-of-8 free throws in the second half and finished with 14 points, tying Grim for team-high. Johnson added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Alayah Hall led Dover with 14 points.
Jenna Jackson 3 6-8 14, Lehman 1 5-8 8, Small 0 0-0 0, Thomas 1 0-2 2, Shae Grim 3 7-10 14, McGowan 1 0-0 2, Amari Johnson 5 3-3 13. Totals 14 21-31 53.
Fox 1 0-0 3, Funk 2 1-2 5, Fowler 0 1-2 1, Lokhaiser 2 2-4 7, Alayah Hall 3 8-12 14, McMahon 1 0-0 2, Crossan 0 0-0 0, Herman 4 1-3 9. Totals 13 13-23 41.
Dallastown 8 16 12 17 -- 53
Dover 8 7 9 17 -- 41
3-point goals -- Dallastown 4 (Jackson 2, Lehman, Grim); Dover 2 (Fox, Lokhaiser).