York College women's basketball coach Betsy Witman has been pretty pleased with her team so far this season.
But there are still some wrinkles her nationally-ranked club needs to iron out. One of those kinks is performing to expectations over the holidays.
On Thursday night, the Spartans had trouble getting on track against an Elizabethtown team that hadn't played a contest in about a month. York, ranked No. 11 in NCAA Division III, had trouble gaining traction against a variety of Blue Jay defenses. The visitors led by one point midway through the first half until an 11-0 run put the unbeaten Spartans in control.
The home team continued that momentum into the second half, with a quick 7-0 spurt. Throw in a 21-point, 13-rebound performance from York Catholic High School graduate Brittany Hicks and it was a recipe for the Spartans to coast to a 66-55 victory at Charles Wolf Gymnasium.
The Spartans improved to 11-0, while Elizabethtown dropped to 2-7.
"Overall I wasn't particularly happy with how we played," Witman said. "Certainly glad that we won the game."
The Blue Jays forced 18 turnovers by the Spartans, a number that is well above the team's average. They also held the home team to 33.3 percent shooting in the first half.
York hadn't played since Sunday, when they won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic over The College of New Jersey, 56-48. In the first round of that tournament on Saturday, York barely survived against Wheaton, 55-54. That was the Spartans' first game after a three-week layoff.
Witman attributed some of that rust to the school's longer-than-normal break, which finally concludes Jan. 23.
"That's a long time to go to just be practicing and playing," Witman said. "I'd much rather have the kids in school. It is a lot of sitting around and the kids just have to keep themselves busy."
Kristen Haley, the team's primary inside post presence, got off to a slow start before finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"They didn't have an answer for her," Witman said. "And Brittany Hicks and her did a great job on the boards. I like the 20 offensive boards, and Brittany had six of them and that's what she does best."
Teddy Bear Toss: A Teddy Bear Toss was held Thursday at Wolf Gym and was spearheaded by Hanover High graduate and York freshman Abbey Rhodes.
It's is a fundraiser for Pediatric Cancer Research. All teddy bears donated during the game will be donated to Caitlyn Smiles, an organization that distributes the teddy bears to hospitalized children in the region.
Rhodes knows pediatric cancer a little too well. A grapefruit-sized tumor was found in her chest the summer before her freshman year at Hanover. She had the non-cancerous tumor removed at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was during her five-day stay at Hopkins, recovering from the surgery, that she was inspired to do something about pediatric cancer. That something was a Teddy Bear Toss during her years at Hanover High.
"It means a lot (to me)," Rhodes said. "How far it got at Hanover through my four years ... I just never thought it would have gotten as big as it did. And doing it here tonight at York ... I'm just excited to see what it will become by the time I graduate."
Around 340 teddy bears of various sizes were collected. In addition, nearly $500 in donations were collected that will benefit the Kimmel Center, which focuses on pediatric cancer research at Hopkins.
"I think we had a really successful night," Rhodes said. "... (It was) really good for a first year."
Rhodes sat on the bench next to 7-year old Bekah Tuckey. Rhodes hit the floor with 59.3 seconds left and the Spartans up 63-49. Tuckey was on the bench as the team's special guest. Tuckey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia back in August of 2011 when she was 5.
"I knew Bekah from home," Rhodes said. "I volunteered at her mom's job at the Amazing Kids Club of Hanover. She was really quiet at first, but once we got talking to her on the bench, she finally got into it. She really enjoyed herself."
York Catholic connec tion: Thursday's game saw the reunion of three of the more decorated York Catholic girls' basketball graduates.
In addition to Hicks, the Jays' roster included freshman Rachel Forjan as well as assistant coach Ashton Bankos. All three former Irish standouts were part of Catholic's seven-year (and counting) run of District 3-AA titles. Both Forjan (2009-2012) and Hicks (2007-2010) won four titles each, while Bankos was part of three district championship squads.
Forjan finished with two points.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.