Kennard-Dale boys enjoying historic season
Watch the top YAIAA plays of the week from Jan. 7-13, and then vote for your favorite play. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
In years past, a 13-point halftime deficit would have seemed monumental mountain to climb for the Kennard-Dale boys' basketball team.
This year, those kinds of deficits — and subsequent comebacks — have become commonplace for a Rams team that has thrived on making those leads disappear.
On Wednesday, the Rams trailed Dover by 13 at halftime, yet again found a way to come out on top, winning 47-45 to bring their record even at 8-8 overall.
"We've been stealing (a lot of games) lately. We also make it a habit to come out raring to go after halftime," Kennard-Dale head coach Jake Roupe said. "They want to win. They have been working their tails off for the past couple of years. They never quit."
The Rams have won five of the last six games, including Division II games against York Suburban, West York, Gettysburg and Dover. They're on a three-game win streak, with all three victories coming by three points or fewer — and all three coming on shots in the closing seconds of regulation.
"We always have hope," Rams standout junior Adam Freese said about the recent hot streak. "We just keep fighting."
With Eastern York star Jared Achterberg out for the season, the division race seems to be coming down to the Golden Knights, Dover and Rams. Dover and Eastern currently have two division losses and K-D is 5-3. The Rams travel to Eastern York on Tuesday.
"I feel terrible for Achterberg, but we have talked about winning a division title," Freese said. "The community and the school talks about it more than anybody. We just look at the next game and try to win that one."
A division title used to be the norm in Fawn Grove, with the boys' program winning YAIAA Division II championships in 1992, 1993 and 1995. However, it's been more than 20 years since the Rams claimed a division crown.
"It's been awhile since they have tasted that postseason basketball," Roupe said. "We always end our season in early February and we are used to it and I'm trying to change that and I couldn't ask for better guys to do it with."
Roupe has come up with the core group of players on the Rams team. He was a junior high coach, then a JV coach before getting the head varsity coach job for the Rams this season.
The play of Freese — who led all scorers with 27 points on Wednesday, including drilling a deep 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:55 to play to tie the game at 45-all — has been huge this season.
"This man has been leading them since he was in fifth grade," Roupe said of Freese. "It's finally paying off."
Freese and many of his teammates have overcome recent seasons where victories didn't come easily. Now, they're simply enjoying another season of playing together.
"We had talent (in past years), but this team, we all hang out, we don't care who scores. It's a great thing to have," Freese said. "We're all best friends and have been playing together our entire lives and know what each other is going to do."
That cohesiveness is a part of the success of this squad.
"I've known all along they were going to make some noise," said Roupe, a 2008 Kennard-Dale graduate. "We're .500 right now and we are getting there and making our goals reachable."
On top of trying to claim a division title, the Rams entered this weekend ranked ninth in the District 3 Class 4A power rankings. The top 10 teams make the tournament.
To get there, the Rams will have to finish the season strong. Five of the final six games are on the road.
"It's a tough schedule, but its setting them up for success," Roupe said. "I think we have a shot to do something special."
Game-winner: Kennard-Dale 47, Dover 45
Game-winner: Kennard-Dale 41, Gettysburg 38
Game-winner: Kennard-Dale 39, West York 37