Emily Wood looked up to the scoreboard to an unfamiliar sight early in the fourth quarter Thursday night at York College.
West York trailed by two.
Such a deficit hadn't occurred all night in the YAIAA girls' basketball championship against Delone Catholic. As far as Wood could remember, it hadn't happened all season to the undefeated Bulldogs.
"I knew we had to weather their run and stop them a little bit," Wood said. And the Bulldogs did, earning a 47-35 win to hand West York (25-0) its first league championship since 2009.
Wood remembered going to games and watching that last YAIAA tournament title team. She also remembered the feeling of West York's title game loss to Dallastown two years ago at the Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center.
"We wanted to get back," said Wood, who scored a game-high 18 points. "Two years ago, it was a really big heartbreaker to get all the way here and then lose."
Wood didn't let it happen, and neither did some of her teammates who have remained mainstays in the West York lineup.
However, the Bulldogs found themselves in a second-half tussle that became more difficult without Kari Lankford.
The senior point guard, who played on the York College court with Wood two years ago, retreated to the bench with 2:40 left in the third quarter, parked with four fouls. After Delone (20-5) cut a 14-point deficit to two, Lankford watched as the score shifted to even.
She saw Ally Shipley twice tie the score for the Squirettes, then witnessed Maddie Comly put Delone up with 6:29 left in the game.
West York coach Darrell Wildasin planned to bring back Lankford with about five minutes left, he said, but Comly's trip to the free-throw line changed that.
"I just felt like it had to happen then," Wildasin said. "Sometimes you just can't go with what you plan. You just have to go by feel, and I felt it was time."
The teams traded baskets before Olivia Sollberger broke a 33-all tie. Wood added her second 3-pointer of the night, and West York assumed control for the final four minutes.
Afterward, Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode said Wood shouldn't have been left alone. "I'm not sure why we did that."
Wood's 3-point jumper from the top of the arc fueled a 14-2 run to close the game, spurred when aggressive teammates stepped up for Lankford, who had to back off with four fouls.
A fifth one meant she would be gone, with the league title hanging in the balance.
"I couldn't attack like I do," Lankford said, "and I can't be as aggressive on defense as I like."
She still managed to get to the free-throw line, drawing 1-and-1 situations twice down the stretch. Lankford made all of her attempts, providing a pace slow-down that Wood said they desperately needed.
"The fourth quarter has sort of been our quarter," said Wildasin, whose team passed a tournament gauntlet that also included Central York and York Catholic.
"I think the biggest thing is we don't have to hear anymore that we didn't play anybody," he said. "These girls heard this and heard this. I told them, 'Look, go out and win the league tournament, and we don't have to listen to nobody.'"
More importantly, West York was able to close a chapter in a long story for its senior class.
Wood and Lankford broke into the Bulldogs' lineup as freshmen before fueling their 2013 run while overcoming key injuries to teammates. Along the way, they won division titles but couldn't get much further.
On this run, they found help.
It came in the form of Sollberger, who provided key baskets in the quarterfinals against Central and again Thursday. Then, junior Katie Tallman added support inside against York Catholic in the semifinals and found herself matched up against another 6-footer in Delone's Jill Novak.
By the end of the night, only three players scored for the Squirettes. Just two — Comly and Shipley — registered any points after the first quarter.
All five West York starters provided all of the Bulldogs' scoring. A game-high nine rebounds came from Sela Fuhrman, one of the seniors who have been with Wood and Lankford the whole time.
"Since it's our senior year, it really mattered," Fuhrman said of the championship. "I actually started crying. It felt awesome."
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.
DELONE CATHOLIC (35)
Maddie Comly 6 5-9 17, Laughman 0 0-0 0, Novak 0 0-0 0, Ally Shipley 8 0-0 16, Knobloch 0 0-0 0, Eser 1 0-0 2, Singleton 0 0-0 0, Coleman 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 15 5-9 35.
WEST YORK (47)
Fuhrman 2 2-2 6, Lankford 1 7-10 9, Sollberger 4 0-0 8, Emily Wood 8 0-0 18, Tallman 3 0-0 6, Bamberger 0 0-0 0, Stine 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-1 0, Hawkins 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 18 9-13 47.
Delone Catholic413108—35West York1213418—47
3-point goals — DC 0, WY 2 (Wood 2).