Throwback Thursday: New Oxford's reluctant basketball shutout garners national attention
Preventing a team from scoring completely — a shutout — happens occasionally in sports and garners moderate attention as an accomplishment. They're fairly common in soccer, field hockey and baseball, and a little less common in football.
But shutouts never happen in basketball. It's just too difficult to hold an opponent to zero points in a sport where teams typically average at least 50. It has never happened at the professional level or in the higher levels of collegiate basketball. It did happen once, though — in Adams County.
In a January 2005 game that originally was not even supposed to happen, the New Oxford girls' basketball team shut out Christian School of York, 55-0, snapping a 15-game losing streak and cementing their legacy in sports lore.
In the hours and days after game, news of the shutout spread to local media, then the Associated Press, and it snowballed. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh news outlets picked it up. It was mentioned on ESPN Radio and ESPN's ticker. After the game, Kevin Rickrode, who was in his third year as the Colonials' head coach, went out for dinner with his fiancé to celebrate his 25th birthday, and his phone rang nonstop, he said.
"You just don't hear about that kind of thing in basketball, so everyone wanted to talk about it," Rickrode said. "But we weren't really proud of it. We were happy we won obviously, but I felt awful, and the girls felt bad. It was an awkward feeling for everyone."
New Oxford, a Class AAAA team, had another opponent back out of a game because of a scheduling conflict, so athletic director Ken Shafer scrambled to fill the slot. Rickrode wanted his team to play no matter who the opponent might be. Christian School of York, a Class A team, agreed to play at New Oxford.
Once the opponent was set, Rickrode knew it could be a one-sided game.
"We weren't a very good team that year, but I thought we would still probably beat them handily," said Rickrode, who left the next season to be a men's assistant coach at Gettysburg College. "I would just never have imagined that happening."
The Colonials took a 22-0 lead after the first quarter by playing their normal game and forcing turnovers, Rickrode said. They started to pull back in the second quarter, but still led 43-0 at the half.
"I remember thinking at halftime that there was no way they wouldn't score at least once in the second half," Rickrode said. "I kept looking at my assistants and saying, 'They're going to score here, right?'"
Christian School of York had their best chance to score in the third quarter when Kylee Spangler drew a foul and went to the line for two shots. But Spangler missed both and the shutout stayed intact.
Chantal Mobarak, formerly Chantal Livingston, was a sophomore guard on that New Oxford team. After just being called up to varsity, she took advantage of some extra playing time in the blowout win and led the Colonials with a game-high 14 points.
Mobarak remembers Rickrode telling the team at halftime that they were playing well and that it felt good, but to pull back a little in the second half.
Rickrode, who also played at New Oxford, decided to pull his starters early in the third quarter and fall back into a zone.
"We just played a really loose zone the rest of the way," Mobarak said. "They were just unfortunately having a bad day and not making their shots."
The Colonials scored only 12 points in the second half. Rickrode considered just giving the ball to the other team or fouling them until they made a free throw, but it wouldn't be the right thing to do, he said.
"We had lost plenty of games ourselves by large margins, so we weren't trying to run up the score at all," Rickrode said. "We weren't trying to block them or steal it, we were pretty much letting them shoot."
The shots just weren't falling for the Crusaders. The game ended at 55-0 and the Colonials' losing streak was over. Rickrode told his players to be respectful toward their opponents afterward.
"After the game, I was sure one of their coaches or parents would be upset with us," Rickrode said. "But what amazed me was how pleasant and understanding they all were. They weren't mad at us at all."
The teams shook hands afterward, and there were no hard feelings, Mobarak said.
"They were all really nice girls and we were all hoping they would score," she added. "During the game they would say, 'Man, we just can't score tonight.'"
The buzz surrounding the team at school and in the media lasted a day or two until the Colonials lost again, Rickrode joked. Still, it just didn't feel right to the Colonials.
"Kevin (Rickrode) encouraged us to forget about it and not use it as any kind of bragging rights," Mobarak said. "There was definitely a lot of attention surrounding it all, but if anything, we didn't want the attention, so we moved on and forgot about it."
People would ask Rickrode about that game for years afterward, he said.
"People every now and then will come up and say, 'You're the only basketball coach that I know who ever shut anyone out,'" Rickrode said. "But, like I said, we didn't feel proud of it."
Christian School of YOrk (0)
Jen. Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, Jes. Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, Fox 0 0-0 0, Mills 0 0-0 0, Spangler 0 0-2 0, Vance 0 0-0 0, Wonder 0 0-0 0, Stamberger 0 0-0 0, Kisterich 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 0 0-2 0
New Oxford (55)
Chantal Livingston 7 0-0 14, Krista Rennt 5 1-3 11, Pabra 4 0-0 8, Reynolds 2 0-0 4, Eyler 2 0-0 4, Fink 2 0-0 4, Anderson 1 0-0 2, Neiderer 1 0-0 2, Martin 1 0-0 2, Kyle 1 0-0 2, Furnell 1 0-0 2.
Totals — 27 1-3 55
Have an idea for a future Throwback Thursday story? Send your favorite moments and memories from York-Adams sports history to Sports Editor Lyzz Jones, email@example.com, 717-771-2058