READING -- In a lot of ways, the Dover and Nazareth girls' basketball teams were mirror images of each another.
And not just because both squads are named Eagles (or Blue Eagles in Nazareth's case).
So when Dover found itself with an 11-point lead midway through the third period Tuesday evening, Eagles' coach Troy Lokhaiser knew it might not last.
He was right. Nazareth rallied behind its defense to regain the lead in the final period on the back of a 15-3 run.
Fittingly enough, though, the York-Adams League Division II champions responded with their own spurt, a 5-0 run, that put the Eagles ahead for good.
Still, it wasn't until junior standout Alayah Hall knocked down a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left that Dover and Lokhaiser could exhale in a PIAA Class AAAA second-round battle.
The Eagles' 42-38 victory at the Geigle Complex earned Dover (27-3) a trip to the quarterfinals Friday, where they will face District 1-AAAA champion Spring-Ford (27-2), who downed District 2-AAAA champion Wallenpaupack Area, 58-44. The site and time for Friday's game will be determined later.
"The emotions are just so exciting," said Kara Funk, Dover's lone senior. "I knew we could pull it out."
Surviving Nazareth's comeback in the fourth quarter was a point of emphasis for Lokhaiser, who called a timeout with 5:22 left.
"We talked about it at halftime, that (Nazareth) is a quality team and they're going to make a run at it," Lokhaiser said. "When we took that timeout, we told them 'it's time to refocus, regroup, and get it done.'"
Nazareth's Lauren Kresge hit 1-of-2 free throws to put the Blue Eagles, who trailed 32-21 in the third quarter, ahead at 36-35 with 5:31 remaining.
After the timeout, the Dover Eagles went to work. Lokhaiser's squad upped the defensive pressure a notch and forced three turnovers and got a stop during their pivotal 5-0 rally. The spurt was capped when Funk stole an inbounds pass and found Hall for a layup with just more than two minutes left.
"That seemed to re-energize our girls there," Lokhaiser said.
The Blue Eagles missed on several chances and committed a couple more of their eight fourth-quarter turnovers down the stretch. Still, the deficit was cut to 40-38 with 17.1 seconds left after Kassie Behler finished off the last of her 10 points for Nazareth.
Just like they've done all year long, the Dover Eagles turned to Hall to put the game away. The team's leading scorer at 15.2 points a game, took the inbounds pass and was fouled while driving toward the lane. Her final two free throws capped her game-high 14-point effort and allowed her team to relax.
"We knew they were going to be a team kind of like us," said Funk, who's enjoying her team's history-making season. "They were going to play good defense and then their offense is going to come into play. And that's what we saw."
Neither side played especially great in the first quarter. The Dover Eagles trailed 6-2 midway through the period, but managed to cut the deficit to 8-6 by the end of the frame.
At that point, the Blue Eagles were employing a full-court 1-3-1 press and a half-court trapping zone that was giving Dover's ball-handlers some trouble. Nazareth, perhaps because of some foul trouble, switched back to a man-to-man defense and the Dover Eagles immediately made them pay with an 8-0 run early in the second quarter.
That momentum carried on throughout the stanza and Dover won the period convincingly, 17-6. That put Dover ahead 23-14 at the break.
Behler and Lennon Kramer each scored 10 points to lead Nazareth, while Maxine Herman chipped in eight for Dover.
Notes: Dover got a boost from the return of sophomore center Marissa McMahon. McMahon, who suffered a leg injury before her team's first district contest, played sparingly, but contributed four points, including a big three-point play that put Dover up 29-19.
"She practiced (Monday) night for the first time," Lokhaiser said. "And (Monday) was just a light practice, so we wanted to get her a couple minutes tonight. And she did a good job. She hasn't played in three or four weeks now."
The trio of Hall, Herman and Lindsey Fowler each pulled down six rebounds for Dover. Fowler saw an increase in her playing time since McMahon's injury.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.