Even though New Oxford hadn't beaten either of the top teams in YAIAA Division I yet this season, Red Lion coach Don Dimoff feared the Colonials coming into Tuesday's game.
New Oxford just beat District 3 Class AAAA power Central Dauphin on Saturday and now had a shot at the one-loss Lions.
“They can beat anybody," Dimoff said. "I was scared to death of coming up here.”
So when Red Lion possessed the ball with the score tied 43-43 and 1:56 remaining in regulation, Dimoff made the decision right then and there to hold for the last shot. The Lions had trailed by nine after the first quarter and by 10 at halftime, but they battled back to exchange leads with the Colonials throughout the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter as star guard Courtney Dimoff caught fire from 3-point range on the way to a 24-point night.
“They were playing so well and we finally fought back to get back in it that I felt like I either wanted to win or have a chance at overtime," Don Dimoff said. "I didn’t want to give them the ball back because I didn’t know if we could stop them. Plus they were in the double bonus, so any little foul would've sent them to the line.”
The strategy ultimately worked out for Dimoff's Lions in a 52-48 overtime win, but for a couple minutes it looked as if it would be their downfall. Amy Maciejewski missed a layup with seconds remaining on the clock, then fouled New Oxford sophomore Presley Berryhill as the teams frantically headed back to the other end of the court.
Berryhill took two shots from the free-throw line with 1.8 seconds left that likely would've won the game, but both bounced off the rim, sending the teams into overtime.
“It was a tough situation for Presley, that’s probably the first time she’s been in that situation," New Oxford coach James Kunkle said. "It is what it is. We talked (in the locker room), we’re a family here, we pick each other up. She’ll be fine.”
Courtney Dimoff started the overtime period with her fourth 3-pointer of the game, and the Lions went 6-of-9 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
“The kids fought hard, I’m very proud of the way they bounced back," Don Dimoff said. "We played very poorly early on, but I’ve got to give New Oxford credit. They played a fantastic first half, they played confident, they played hard, they took it right at us.”
New Oxford point guard Bre Sauter, who scored 19 points for the Colonials in Saturday's win, scored 20 against Red Lion, including six straight free throws late in the fourth quarter. The final two free throws tied the game to set up Red Lion's long possession.
“We made a switch a couple days ago with her and Presley," Kunkle said, referring to Sauter. "We took Presley off the ball, and Presley’s doing a lot better off the ball and Bre is seeing the court better. I think it was a smart move on our side, and the girls adapted and understand their roles.”
Although the Colonials went 0-4 against Division I heavyweights Red Lion and Central York this season, they still control their own path to the YAIAA tournament, which welcomes the top three teams in the division. And with no seniors, they'll have their entire team returning next season.
“We’re gonna do our damage," Kunkle said. "I knew this was going to be a learning year, and next year we’ll be one of the top contenders.”
Red Lion (52)
Courtney Dimoff 7 6-8 24, Natalie Reba 4 2-5 10, Amy Maciejewski 2 2-4 6, Hannah Wolf 2 0-0 4, Paige Shingler 0 0-2 0, Kynslee Sheperd 1 2-2 4. Totals — 16 12-21 52.
New Oxford (48)
Bre Sauter 6 7-8 20, Kaelyn Long 4 3-7 11, Luckabaugh 4 0-0 9, Berryhill 2 0-2 5, Lauren Slonaker 0 1-2 1, Carly Rippeon 1 0-0 2. Totals — 17 11-19 48.
Red Lion _ 6 _ 7 _ 21 _ 9_ 9 _ — _ 52
New Oxford _ 15 _ 8 _ 12 _ 8 _ 5 _ — _ 48
3-point goals — Red Lion 4 (Dimoff 4), New Oxford 3 (Luckabuagh, Berryhill, Sauter).
JV score — New Oxford 43, Red Lion 41.