For outside observers, there was a measure of uncertainty as to how exactly the Dallastown boys' basketball team would look when it hit the floor for Friday's season opener against Kennard-Dale.

None of the Wildcats five first-stringers started full-time for varsity last season.

Only one -- guard Ethan Sutton -- is a senior.

Mike Grassel, however, did not have to entertain such conjectures. The Wildcats' first-year varsity coach has worked with many of his current players since junior high. He knows his group well.

More importantly, Dallastown's players seem to have have a built-in chemistry with each other, as evidenced during a 65-44 win over the Rams in the opener of the York Suburban Tip-Off Tournament.

Dallastown’s Ben Doorn, right, gets around Kennard-Dale’s Brandon Terrell for a layup during Friday’s tip-off tournament at York
Dallastown's Ben Doorn, right, gets around Kennard-Dale's Brandon Terrell for a layup during Friday's tip-off tournament at York Suburban. Doorn chipped in 11 points to help the Wildcats, 65-44, and advance to today's championship game against Lancaster Mennonite. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jeff Lautenberger)

"They played together all the way up," said Grassel, who spent the previous few seasons as Dallastown's JV coach. "They play well off each other. They share the ball well. They're an unselfish group. I'd say they buy into the team concept, but there's no buying. It's there. It's just ingrained."

That familiarity showed in the way Dallastown zipped the ball around the court and attacked the rim in the second half. Eventually, the Wildcats (1-0) were able to open up a double-digit cushion on a Rams team that battled foul trouble.

Four Dallastown players finished in double figures, led by junior guard Mike Gibbs' 15 points.

"I would take that every night," Grassel said of the balanced scoring.

Dallastown will play Lancaster Mennonite in the tournament championship game tonight. The Blazers held off hosts York Suburban, 64-61, in the nightcap Friday. Tonight's consolation game is set for 6:30 p.m., with the championship game to follow.

Grassel's first varsity win came at the expense of another new coach -- Kennard-Dale's Grant Leonard. The Rams hung close early, before Dallastown's patience and pressure started to pay off.

Gibbs provided perhaps the game's biggest momentum swing, when he buried a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. That gave the Wildcats a 32-25 lead.

"We like to drive, we like to pitch and shoot the 3," Gibbs said. "We have a lot of shooters on this team."

Kennard-Dale (0-1) never got closer than six points in the second half, and trailed by 13 after three quarters. Its foul situation didn't help -- three Rams players had four personals before the end of the third quarter. Two eventually fouled out.

Point guard Logan Moore scored 13 points to lead Kennard-Dale. Sutton pitched in 13 points for Dallastown, while teammate Ben Doorn notched 11 points and nine rebounds.

* * *

Suburban falters late: In the nightcap, a fresh-faced Trojans side surrendered a double-digit third-quarter lead, then saw its late comeback fall short against Lancaster Mennonite.

York Suburban’s C.J. Boxley, right, goes up for a layup during the Trojans’ tip-off tournament semifinal Friday against Lancaster Mennonite.
York Suburban's C.J. Boxley, right, goes up for a layup during the Trojans' tip-off tournament semifinal Friday against Lancaster Mennonite. Suburban, lost, 64-61, and will play Kennard-Dale today in the consolation game. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Jeff Lautenberger)

It was not hard to determine the biggest culprit in the defeat: The Blazers outrebounded the hosts, 50-29. Mennonite pulled down 24 offensive boards (15 in the second half), many of which led to second-chance buckets.

"Our weakside rebounding was pretty poor," first-year Trojans coach Dustin Boeckel said. "That's definitely an area that we're going to continue to work on."

York Suburban (0-1) led by 11 early in the third quarter before Mennonite began its late push. The Blazers scored eight straight midway through the fourth quarter -- capped by a Darris Bair put-back -- to take a 57-49 edge.

Suburban trailed by 10 with 1:15 remaining, but had a chance to tie in the final seconds. Evan Eberhardinger's desperation 3 clanked off iron.

Eberhardinger led Suburban with 22 points, while P.J. McClane added 13.

Still, Boeckel thought the game would pay dividends for his young side. Suburban's rotation Friday featured four sophomores (two of whom started) and a freshman.

"We're young and green. We played with a lot of intensity," the coach said. "A lot of things we did man-to-man, in the first half it was turnovers we were forcing. Then they started to handle our pressure a little better."
@johnsclayton; 771-2045

KENNARD-DALE (44)
   Failla 3 1-2 8, Logan Moore 4-5-5 13, Rhodes 0 0-0 0, Greaver 1 0-4 2, Terrell 1 0-0 2, Rossi 0 0-0 0, Wilt 0 0-0 0, Trott 4 0-0 9, Sommer 0 0-2 0, Robert Robinson 5 0-0 10. TOTALS 18 6-13 44.
DALLASTOWN (65)
   Mike Gibbs 4 4-4 15, Small 1 2-4 4, Valentine 1 0-0 2, Sherron 0 0-0 0, Ethan Sutton 6 1-3 13, J. Sutton 3 0-2 7, Henry 0 0-0 0, Jon Robertson 4 2-2 10, Marks 0 1-3 1, Ben Doorn 3 5-11 11, Warner 0 0-0 0, Ludwig 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 5-11 51.
Kennard-Dale11    14    9  10 -- 44
Dallastown17  15  15  18 -- 65

   3-point goals: Kennard-Dale 2 (Vince Failla, Ryan Trott); Dallastown 4 (Gibbs 3, Jonny Sutton).
   
LANCASTER MENNONITE (64)
   Frederickson 0 0-0 0, Hess 0 5-7 5, Snader 1 6-6 8, Zach Lehman 6 3-6 15, Julian Collazo 4 2-2 11, Darris Bair 5 4-8 14, Flanders 0 0-0 0, Marc Hall 5 0-1 11, Kemp 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 20-30 64.
YORK SUBURBAN (61)
   Evan Eberhardinger 10 0-0 22, Boxley 1 2-4 4, Moats 0 2-4 2, Barnes 3 0-0 6, P.J. McClane 5 3-4 13, Isaiah Randall 5 0-0 10, McDowell 1 0-0 2, Mears 1 0-0 2, Donahue 0 0-0 0, Bauer 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 7-12 61.
Lan.Mennonite10    12    21  19 -- 64
Suburban14  14  15  18 -- 61

   3-point goals: Lancaster Mennonite 2 (Collazo, Hall); York Suburban 2 (Eberhardinger 2).

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