Brittany Hicks, right, a York Catholic grad, pumped in a game-high 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Spartans title victory.
Brittany Hicks, right, a York Catholic grad, pumped in a game-high 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Spartans title victory. (Randy Flaum photo)

Betsy Witman isn't complaining when she lists all the obstacles her team has faced so far this season.

The longtime York College women's basketball coach is just overly proud of how her team has been able to avoid any setbacks.

The Spartans lost starting small forward, Jess Selby, early in the year to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Taking Selby's place has been forward Kailee Knight, a sophomore from Maryland who is still adjusting to the college game after seeing limited action off the bench last year.

That has left the York bench lacking in depth, with Witman mainly turning to freshman guard Julianne Lambert and senior small forward Loreta Tonuzi, who is playing with plantar fasciitis in her foot.

York College’s Aja Wallpher earned the tourneys Most Valuable Player award.
York College's Aja Wallpher earned the tourneys Most Valuable Player award. (Randy Flaum photo)

Somehow, though, York has been able to stay unbeaten and near the top of the NCAA Division III national rankings, mainly thanks to returning starters Aja Wallpher, Brittany Hicks, Kelsey Murphy and Kristen Haley picking up the slack.

Wallpher and Hicks stepped up Sunday against The College of New Jersey in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic title game at the Charles Wolf Gymnasium inside the Grumbacher Center.

Hicks, a York Catholic grad, pumped in a game-high 18 points and collected 10 rebounds, while Wallpher (11 points, nine assists) finished one assist shy of a double-double. The efforts led the host Spartans to a 56-48 victory over TCNJ. It marked the first time since 2009 and third time since 2008 that York (10-0) won the tournament. Wallpher earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player award, while both she and Hicks were named to the all-tournament team.

"Brittany Hicks and Aja both had a tremendous tournament." Witman said. "We're asking her (Aja) to score more now that we don't have Jess Selby, who's out with an ACL (injury). We needed some more contributions from Aja. And she's stepped up."

Near upset: Wallpher rightfully deserved the MVP crown, especially after her 14 points, nine steals and seven assists on Saturday helped York avoid a near upset against Wheaton. She nailed York's final two free throws in that 55-54 victory.

"We weren't hitting anything from the floor," Witman said of the one-point win. "We were getting all the points in the paint. Today (Sunday) we were getting that inside-outside (scoring) and that contribution from the bench."

Goal met: York, ranked No. 11 in the latest NCAA D-III poll and No. 12 by d3hoops.com, got off to a slow start Sunday against TCNJ (8-3). The Spartans fell behind 7-2 before going on a 13-0 run to go up 15-7. Up 31-20 at half, York later got a free throw from Hicks to stretch the lead to 46-29, York's largest of the game, with just more than 10 minutes to play.

"It was one of our team goals to beat College of New Jersey," Witman said. "They're a very good team. This is a very big win for our program. I thought we really bounced back from how we played (Saturday)."

Injury: Witman said that Murphy would likely need stitches after suffering a laceration above her right eye in a collision with TCNJ's Kelly Coughlin. The two players banged heads on a rebound with just more than two minutes to play.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.