Almost certainly, this was senior Sara Tarbert's last game wearing the home white of Kennard-Dale.
The Rams entered Friday evening's play-in game at Kennard-Dale as the No. 15 seed in an 18-team District 3 Class AAA playoff field and likely will be playing in the road blues the rest of their season.
After Kennard-Dale withstood a 23-point fourth quarter to escape with a 57-52 play-in game win against Hamburg, the UMBC-bound Tarbert took some time to soak up the home atmosphere with teammates. They posed for pictures with each other and with the student body section in the gym. They laughed as they watched one of the assistant coaches do the Harlem Shake. At one point, Tarbert was sporting a funny, soccer ball hat, a wide smile across her face.
"It's bittersweet," Tarbert said. "I've been playing varsity for four years. I definitely have enjoyed my experience here. I think I'm ready to move on, but it is hard."
There was nothing funny about the play of the 5-foot-11 Tarbert on the court, however, as she scored a game-high 35 points, converting 11 of the team's 19 field goals and sinking 11-of-13 free throws. Tarbert is the all-time girls' scoring leader at Kennard-Dale with 1,651 after Friday's game.
"I'm definitely more comfortable on the inside," Tarbert said. "I've been playing inside all my life, but I've put a lot of work in on my outside shot and getting more comfortable there as well."
Kennard-Dale (15-9) struck first as junior Katelynn Trott nailed a 3-point basket from the left wing 35 seconds into the game, and the Rams never trailed.
Tarbert scored eight points, and Trott chipped in five as Kennard-Dale raced to a 17-5 lead after one quarter. Hamburg (14-9) only made 2-of-9 field goal attempts and had seven turnovers in the first quarter.
"We did not know a lot about Hamburg coming in," Tarbert said. "I think for us to start off strong was the thing that propelled us the rest of the way."
From that point on, the Hawks actually outscored Kennard-Dale overall and in two of the final three quarters.
"I think Hamburg just settled down a bit," Kennard-Dale coach Jeff Stratmeyer said. "They started scoring some buckets and got a few back doors on us. It wasn't the way we had drawn it up, but it's a win."
Hamburg senior Tara Klee, a first-team All-State softball player last season who has already signed a letter of intent to play that sport at the University of Massachusetts, gave Kennard-Dale fits the entire game as she scored a team-high 23 points. The 5-9 Klee scored inside, had a 3-point goal and finished 8-of-16 shooting from the foul line.
"We knew she was their best player coming in," Stratmeyer said. "We played our best defender, (5-7 senior) Taylor Davis, on her. I think she was just a little bigger than her. Taylor usually gets those assignments, and often the girls are around her size. This girl was a bit bulkier, and it gave her a little bit of a problem."
The Rams did put together a strong run midway through the third quarter. Hamburg closed to 28-22 after a free throw, but K-D senior Nicole Black answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing and Tarbert followed with eight consecutive points to boost the lead to 39-24.
"We talked about picking up the intensity on the court in the locker room at halftime," Stratmeyer said. "We wanted to win that third quarter."
Trailing by 14 entering the final quarter, Hamburg rallied behind two 3-point goals each from Hannah Schoenly and Elizabeth Kissinger but the fourth-place team from Berks County Section 2 ran out of time.
Kennard-Dale next faces second-seeded West York (21-3) at West York High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"We scrimmaged them," Tarbert said. "They are an amazing, young team. They are a guard-oriented team and they have been able to keep it going with Sarah Shearer down. Their guards are fast and tenacious, and their forwards are picking up where Sarah left off.
"It is going to be a tough game. We are going to have to be on our A-game."
Schoenly 4 0-0 10, Walker 1 0-0 2, Grogg 3 2-4 8, Kissinger 3 1-2 9, Klee 7 8-16 23. Totals 18 11-22 52.
KENNARD DALE (57)
Black 1 2-4 5, Davis 2 1-4 5, M. Duty 1 0-0 2, L. Duty 1 0-0 2, Portillo 0 1-2 1, Sarah Tarbert 11 11-13 35, Trott 2 0-2 5, Driggers 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 15-25 57.
Hamburg 5 11 13 23 -- 52
Kennard-Dale 17 8 18 14 -- 57
3-point goals -- Hamburg 5 (Schoenly 2, E.Kissinger 2, Klee); Kennard-Dale 4 (Black, Tarbert 2, Trott)