York, PA -
A year ago, Dallastown showed glimpses it could be a program on the rise. But that doesn't mean the Wildcats always looked good.
Some nights they struggled to score.
Other nights breaking a press was a struggle.
Many nights head coach Mary Manlove went home with a hoarse voice, sore from shouting directions.
After Dallastown held on for a 52-39 victory Friday night against previously undefeated West York, it should be clear the Wildcats are no longer in a building stage. This team is now the team to beat in the YAIAA.
Manlove heard one of her players, sophomore Katie McGowan, talk about how last season's losses helped lead to a turnaround this season. After going .500 last season (12-12), Dallastown is off to an 8-2 start and is 5-0 in Division I.
"The girls understand last year was really rough, with us trying to figure each other out," Manlove said, "but those losses matter now because we're a better team because of it."
Dallastown broke West York's full-court trap with ease Friday, opening the game on a 17-7 run. The Wildcats never trailed, and Dallastown's defense created 14 first-half turnovers.
"Our plan was to play really aggressive defense so they couldn't get in the paint," Dallastown's Jenna Jackson said. "And our whole goal on offense was to catch and face, turnaround and make the pass instead of dribbling through the press."
It worked in part because Dallastown's Jackson and Shae Grim passed the ball before they found themselves in trouble. Grim and Jackson scored 13 points apiece.
West York (7-1, 3-1 D-I) looked like a shadow of itself from the opening tip. Sarah Shearer, who averages 12.1 points per game, spent Friday courtside with a pair of crutches at her side after suffering a sprained ankle about a week ago in a holiday tournament. The other four starters played at less than 100 percent, suffering from a stomach bug, West York coach Jon Shultz said.
"That was definitely a factor," Shultz said.
More than one West York starter waved to the bench Friday, asking to be pulled off the court.
"You usually don't see a lot of our girls jogging up the court, but that's what we saw tonight," Shultz said. "The first half was extremely ugly."
Understanding his team was not at full strength, Shultz still wanted to see his girls respond in the second half. And they did.
Heather Zinn spearheaded a fourth-quarter run, when West York cut what had been a 12-point deficit to five points with 56 seconds to play.
"She went off," Shultz said with a smile.
Zinn scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the final quarter, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers.
But Dallastown held on, always responding with a bucket or some needed free throws to keep the game out of reach. The Wildcats hit 19-of-25 shots from the free-throw line compared to West York's 7-of-17 free-throw shooting.
And even though Dallastown could see West York wasn't 100 percent, the upstart team knew it needed to win this game on its home court.
"It was a critical game for us," Manlove said. "I wanted a win. I didn't care if it was pretty or ugly.
"We want to build this up, bit by bit, because it all could matter come February. I think the girls did a great job of showing poise for four straight quarters."
WEST YORK (39)
Fuhrman 0 0-0 0, Wood 3 1-2 9, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Slagle 0 0-0 0, Kari Lankford 4 1-4 10, Noll 0 2-5 2, Heather Zinn 6 1-2 16, Krepps 0 2-4 2. Totals13 7-17 39.
Jenna Jackson 3 5-7 13, Lehman 0 4-5 4, Thomas 2 0-1 6, Shae Grim 3 6-7 13, Anstine 0 2-2 2, McGowan 3 1-1 7, Johnson 3 1-2 7. Totals 14 19-25 52.
West York 7 5 10 17 -- 39
Dallastown 17 8 8 19 -- 52
3-point goals -- West York 6 (Zinn 3, Wood 2, Lankford); Dallastown 6 (Jackson 2, Thomas 2, Grim).
JV score -- West York 38, Dallastown 33 (OT)