It wasn’t always pretty, but much like all season, there were times the Red Lion girls’ defense resembled years gone by during Saturday’s game against West Perry.
Case in point, the first eight minutes of the game when the Lions forced turnovers in four straight Mustangs' possessions while opening up a 12-point lead after one period.
After that, every time West Perry cut into the deficit, Red Lion made the plays it needed to and went on to post a 45-38 victory over the Mid Penn squad.
“It’s that time of year,” said Lions coach Don Dimoff. “I thought we got off to a very good start. We were playing well, but I think maybe lost a little bit of wind after playing last night.”
Red Lion, which improved to 20-1 overall, led by nine points heading into the final quarter. However, West Perry (15-6) scored twice, including a 3-pointer from Haylee Reisinger that cut the Lions lead to 36-32.
But keeping with tradition, when things got tough Red Lion relied on its defense.
Natalie Reba stole the ball and passed to Kami Harvey, who fed Courtney Dimoff for a 3-pointer that bumped the Lions’ lead back to seven, two minutes into the fourth.
West Perry was unable to get closer than seven points for the rest of the game as Red Lion’s free throw shooting preserved the win. Courtney Dimoff hit four straight from the line, and Kynsley Shepherd dropped in two more with 1:12 to play.
“I thought we could have made life easier on ourselves. We had some really easy looks and didn’t make it. We’ve got to do a better job of finishing," Don Dimoff said. "But we made enough plays to get a lead and made our foul shots.”
In some ways, it might have been the type of game the Lions needed with the YAIAA and District 3 Class AAAA tournaments on the horizon.
“Overall, that’s a good solid team. Their size is going to give a lot of people problems,” Dimoff said of West Perry, and 6-foot-4 center Gracie Stauffer, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“I told the girls that’s a great test to get ready for the postseason, (seeing) different things and not a ton of time to prepare,” added the coach. “When all five played together we were really tough defensively.”
That’s exactly what transpired in the first quarter. Harvey scored Red Lion’s first seven points of the game. She also started the pivotal 11-points-in-five possessions run with an assist on Courtney Dimoff’s first trey of the game.
Kayla Johnson’s layup the next time down made it 14-6, then Courtney Dimoff hit Hannah Wolf for a terrific reverse layup. Wolf put back an offensive rebound and Natalie Reba opened the second quarter with a jumper that gave the Lions a 20-6 lead.
“We’ve really been stressing working on that defense and getting back to the old ways of Red Lion,” said Courtney Dimoff, who notched a game-high 14 points. “When we do start clicking, it usually comes from defense.”
West Perry (33)
Reisinger 2 0-0 5, Stim 1 0-0 2, Cless 0 0-1 0, Meredith Brown 4 4-11 12, Urich 1 0-0 2, Morgan 2 0-0 5, Gracie Stauffer 5 2-4 12. Totals — 15 6-16 38.
Red Lion (49)
Johnson 1 0-0 2, Wolf 2 0-0 4, Shepherd 1 3-4 6, Reba 3 0-2 6, Maciejewski 1 0-0 2, Courtney Dimoff 3 6-6 14, Funke 2 0-0 4, J. Shingler 0 0-0 0, P. Shingler 0 0-0 0, Harvey 2 3-4 7. Totals — 15 12-16 45.
West Perry _ 6 _ 11 _ 10 _ 11 _ — _ 38
Red Lion _ 18 _ 8 _ 10 _ 9 _ — _ 45
3-point goals — West Perry 2 (Reisinger, Morgan); Red Lion 3 (Dimoff 2, Shepherd).