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New Oxford girls refocus to pursue bigger goals

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The New Oxford girls' basketball team has a core group of seniors that has played together since the third grade — or even longer.

Kaelyn Long and Haley Luckabaugh have been playing together since preschool.

So it's odd to hear the players and head coach talk about working on the team's chemistry.

"I think sometimes, we're kind of too nice to each other," senior Haley Still said.

Adversity hit about two weeks ago, when the Colonials lost back-to-back games to first-place teams Northern Lebanon and Central York. And something had to change. Head coach Jim Kunkle was not thrilled with how his team responded to the first loss.

"The first period against Central was great, but after that we just fell apart," Kunkle said. "What I am proud of is how we came out after the Central game."

Now in his second year at the helm of the Colonials, the former assistant under West York's Jon Schultz instituted a new offense when he arrived before last season. The program has been humming along since about midway through last season, but the speed bump around the new year was unexpected.

"We're not a team that enjoys losing, I don't think any team does," Long said.

"I think our ability to play together was lacking," she said. "We were trying to do a little more by ourselves than as a team."

New Oxford likes to run up and down the court, but the gunning part of their run-and-gun style needed to be refined.

"I think we were just trying to force too many shots," Kunkle said. "One and done, which in our mind is a turnover.

"Yes, we want to run, but if nothing is there we want to look for a good shot."

It was a communication issue. It was a teamwork issue. It was a concentration issue. But even friends have struggles.

They needed to rely on each other, because they have bigger goals than just a winning season. They want to reach the league tournament. They want to win games in the District 3 tournament. They want to qualify for the state tournament. But to do that, they had to regroup.

"We've done it before ... but we slowly fell away from it," Luckabaugh said. "Now we just have to focus more on being patient and looking for the easy shot rather than forcing something."