The feeling was a familiar one for West York coach Jon Shultz, yet a new one for a few of his players.

For his seniors, last season marked the first time they had not seen a division championship celebrated by the varsity squad. An 0-7 start and replacing quite a few graduated starters had something to do with that.

This time, however, there weren't so many doldrums to begin the season. Of course, there were a few hiccups, such as that 30-point, season-opening loss to York Catholic. Or that 26-point loss in mid-December to Red Lion, which has its share of convincing wins.

"I've always stressed it's not where you start, it's where you finish," Shultz said after Friday night's 59-36 win against Kennard-Dale that clinched the YAIAA Division II championship.

Shultz can point to last season as proof about finishing. His squad rebounded to go 12-9 after that sluggish start, but he was quick to point out how different this season's team is -- and that's not just because it's back on top of the division.

For one, he has two freshmen seeing significant playing time. One even starts, but when Kari Lankford had to come out in the opening minute after she couldn't put too much pressure on her leg, fellow freshman Emily Wood stepped in with a 10-point performance.

"I remember starting my first varsity game as a junior. I was so nervous," senior Olivia Manges said. "I can't imagine being in their spots as freshmen."

Manges, like many, was just getting adjusted to the pace of junior varsity or freshman basketball when she was their age a few seasons ago. That speed, however, served Wood well on Friday night, as she zipped through the defense for her first basket in the second quarter, prompting the student section to chant "she's a freshman."

Then the Bulldogs got back junior Sarah Shearer, who moved to Ephrata after eighth grade. Shearer's been a prominent player all season, and during Friday's division-clinching win she had 13 points and seven rebounds.

The influx of new faces to go along with Manges has delivered West York a return to the top of the Division II.

Notebook scribbles

  • Sara Tarbert nearly kept Kennard-Dale in the game as West York distanced itself in the first half. By halftime, she had 13 of the Rams' 15 points and five of their 11 rebounds. She finished with 20 and eight."She's tough to stop inside because she's so physical and she has nice post work," West York coach Jon Shultz said.
  • If Olivia Manges can keep up her shooting touch, West York will be a tough out in both the YAIAA and District 3 tournaments. She hit three 3-pointers Friday night, all coming in the first half, and finished with 20 points. Just about every basket - whether it was a 2 or 3 - came off a screen or set play in the Bulldogs' half-court set. When she found herself open, she rarely missed - rattling the rim at worst - with a steady form.

Around the YAIAA


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