The basketball court at Spring Grove High School played host to the fifth annual girls' basketball tip-off tournament Friday night. The evening was also host to two brand new head coaches for the teams from York County.
The Eastern York Golden Knights opened the night, and the season, with a loss to Central Dauphin, 71-31. The Golden Knights were unable to keep up with the fast, physical play of Central Dauphin throughout the game.
Junior forward Morgan Thomas lead the Knights with eight points. Eastern was held without a score until halfway through the first period.
"We talked about it before the game, we're not going to be defined by one game in December. Each game we're going to get better and improve." Said first year head coach Cheryl Land.
Central Dauphin didn't provide many opportunities for the young Eastern team. Nearly every shot was contested as Central Dauphin forced its will throughout the game. The Rams were lead in scoring by senior forward Madison Hatcher with 21 points.
The night's second game gave the home crowd something to cheer about as the host Rockets beat the Mechanicsburg Wildcats, 53-50. The Rockets were led in scoring by junior guard Morgan Arden. She scored 24 points, including two 3-pointers and she went 2-2 at the foul line.
"Coach told me if I have the shot take it and just play my game" said Arden.
She posted 12 points in the first half, with her biggest contribution coming late in the game as Mechanicburg fought back from an 11-point deficit at the end of the third quarter.
Spring Grove lead, 37-26, to start the fourth quarter, but as the flow of the game became much faster and more physical, the Wildcats cut the Rockets lead to four with 2:43 to play. Seconds later Mechanicsburg had tied the game up with a layup from junior Meghan Ross.
Arden was fouled on the Rockets next possession and drained both of the free throws to give the Rockets the slim lead.
Mechanicsburg and Spring Grove exchanged fouls and free throws during the final 1:30. The Rockets took a four point lead when senior guard Ashley Madison sank both her shots from the line which was answered by a three point bucket from the Wildcats' Courtney Andrews.
The Rockets lead was cut to one with eight seconds on the clock. Brooke Osborne sealed the victory with a buzzer beater from under the net.
First-year head coach Gerry Rohrbaugh celebrated his first win with his team after the game. "I knew the girls worked hard and they were excited to get my system in here. We have one returning player and we were going to lean on her," Rohrbaugh said, speaking of the performance of Morgan Arden.
The night also spelled a return for Madison. She was forced to sit out with a broken leg last year. Madison finished the night with three points.
With the first game of the evening being a very physical contest, the second game started out with each team giving the other plenty of space to operate.
"I think it was just a case of opening-night jitters. Once both teams settled in you could see the energy of the game start to change" said Rohrbaugh.