LANDISVILLE -- After losing eight seniors last season, no one would have blamed Dallastown boys' basketball team for settling for a rebuilding season.

The Wildcats had a different idea.

Despite entering the season with only three players who had seen playing time at the varsity level, Dallastown didn't roll over.

The Wildcats (14-11) made it to the semifinal round of the YAIAA playoffs where they lost to South Western. But in the process, they qualified for the District 3 Class AAAA tournament.

Friday night the steam ran out for Dallastown, as it ran into a quick Hempfield team that jumped ahead early and never looked back, knocking out the Wildcats in the play-in round, 54-44.

"If you would have polled people after we lost eight seniors and asked them if they thought we'd be playing Wednesday night against South Western in the league semis and make districts, I would say most people would have said no," Dallastown coach Mike Grassel said after the game. "Did our team and coaching staff and myself expect that, you're darn right we did. It's the type of kids they are, the type of team we are."

Dallastown knew what awaited it Friday night at Hempfield.

The two teams battled through two overtimes in a game three weeks ago, with Hempfield coming out on top in that contest as well.

"We knew what we had to do to stop them," Grassel said. "We needed to keep them out of the paint, and we didn't do it in the first half. I thought the second half we came out and did a better job and cut it to (four). We proved that we could do the game plan, we just didn't do it for 32 minutes."

Hempfield jumped out to an early start Friday night, taking a 14-9 lead after the first quarter and extended that lead to 29-18 at halftime.

The Wildcats had some good looks on offense and found their fair share of open shots, but the baskets weren't falling.

"We got good looks, but we didn't shoot the ball well, and we're a bunch of shooters," Grassel said. "Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. I thought the kids played extremely hard, and once we got it going on defense we really started to gain some momentum."

The Wildcats outscored Hempfield in the third quarter and were able to move within four points of the Black Knights, who never relinquished the lead in the game.

The two teams exchanged free throws down the stretch, with Hempfield seeing most of the time at the line.

The Black Knights went 13-of-15 at the line in the final minutes to seal the win and advance to the first round where they will face a hot William Penn team that has won 17 straight games after winning the YAIAA crown Friday night.

As for Dallastown, the Wildcats might have left Hempfield disappointed, but they still have a lot to be proud of this season.

"They're a good group of kids and good teammates," Grassel said. "All but one quad-A team is going to end this year with a loss, but they should be proud of everything they did this year."
  

DALLASTOWN (44)
   Ethan Sutton 6 4-6 17, Mitch Small 4 3-4 12, Ben Doorn 2 1-3 6, Jonny Sutton 2 0-0 4, Andrew Henry 1 0-0 3, Jon Robertson 1 0-0 2.
HEMPFIELD (54)
   Dylan Bleacher 4 6-9 14, Drew Johnson 4 6-8 14, Zach Walter 3 5-5 11, Tyrell Wickersham 3 2-4 9, Shaun Corso 3 0-1 6.
Dallastown       9    9  11  15 -- 44
Hempfield     14  15    7  18 -- 54
   3-point goals -- Dallastown 4 (Small, E. Sutton, Doorn, Henry), Hempfield 1 (Wickersham).