York, PA - When his team came off its home floor after the first quarter of Wednesday's District 3 Class AAA first-round game, West York coach Jon Shultz could be heard uttering one word above all others.
The coach was not pleased that his team allowed Kennard-Dale to score 21 points in the opening eight minutes. Something had to change -- and it did.
The second-seeded Bulldogs improved to 22-4 and will now face Berks Catholic (20-5). Game time is set for noon on Saturday at Milton Hershey High School.
"I think we are averaging 35-36 points given up (per game), and 21 in a quarter is really and truly unacceptable," Shultz said. "We were getting beat up and down the floor, and that is not our M.O.
"We made some modifications to our press, rather than push forward, we pulled back to a three-quarter. I thought we responded well to that. I am pretty happy with that, take away that one quarter."
Of course, Shultz' message is a familiar one for senior Jess Noll.
"One of the most important parts of our game is defense. Giving up 21 points is absurd. We can't do that," Noll said.
The teams traded buckets to open the second quarter, but that was where things unraveled for Kennard-Dale. The Rams scored on two of their next 11 possessions. Suddenly a 23-18 lead became a 40-28 deficit.
Kari Lankford notched eight of her team-high 26 points in the period. The sophomore's fast break layup broke a 23-all tie and gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
"Almost all of our offense comes from our steals and full-court press," Lankford said. "Normally our defense is pretty good. We had to step up."
"We practice every day, where we run up and down the floor," Noll said. "Our motto is, 'Run, Bulldogs, Run.'"
West York was in control after the intermission. However, UMBC-bound Sara Tarbert knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to cut the Bulldogs lead to 49-44. Tarbert, whose high-school playing days ended with the rare combination of more than 1,000 career points and rebounds, scored 26 points with 12 boards on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs responded with a six-point run, capped by Emily Wood's offensive rebound put-back. Wood managed 20 points.
Tarbert's three-point play 80 seconds into the fourth quarter made it 57-49, but West York responded with eight straight points, then followed a Tarbert layup with a 5-of-6 performance from the foul line, putting the game out of reach.
"We played a great team game in the sense of sharing the basketball," Shultz said. "One of the things I tell my girls every time we step on the floor is we don't play for ourselves. We play for that (saying) on the wall -- West York pride.
"It's win or go home. I told my seniors this is the last game you are going to play on this floor, and we haven't lost a game here all year. That's a fantastic thing being a senior saying that."
"To come out like that against a great team like West York was a coach's dream. I think we got a little tired, and our passes weren't as quick," Rams coach Jeff Stratmeyer said.
Taylor Davis tossed in a career-high 21 points for Kennard-Dale (15-10).
Black 2 0-0 5, Taylor Davis 7 3-4 21, L. Duty 0 0-0 0, M. Duty 2 0-0 4, Sara Tarbert 10 4-4 26, Trott 1 0-2 2, Driggers 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals22 7-10 58.
WEST YORK (76)
Emily Wood 6 7-8 20, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Bamberger 0 0-0 0, Slagle 0 2-2 2, Kari Lankford 10 6-9 26, Jessica Noll 6 2-4 14, Heather Zinn 5 0-1 10, Krepps 0 1-2 1, Jamison 0 1-2 1, Tallman 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 19-28 76.
Kennard-Dale 21 12 11 14 -- 58
West York 16 24 15 21 -- 76
3-point goals -- Kennard-Dale 7 (Davis 4, Tarbert 2, Black); West York 1 (Wood).