SPRING GROVE -- Having one player with size in the post is fairly common for a lot of local girls' basketball teams.
Having two is another story entirely.
Fortunately for Dallastown coach Mary Manlove, the duo of Amari Johnson and Katie McGowan is proving to be a luxury worth its weight in gold. Spring Grove found that out the hard way Monday night when the Rockets hosted the Wildcats in a York-Adams League crossover clash.
Johnson was a force inside early. The 6-foot, 1-inch forward scored 11 of her 12 points in the first half. McGowan, however, was nearly unstoppable in the second half, when the 6-foot junior owned the paint. McGowan poured in 16 of her career-high 23 points over the final 16 minutes.
Those points proved huge when the Rockets cut a 15-point deficit to two midway through the fourth period before the Wildcats held on for a 53-46 triumph.
"Amari and Katie play very well together," said Manlove, whose team improved to 4-1 on the season overall and 3-0 in Division I. "We're very fortunate that we have two very mobile and athletic posts that know how to use their bodies and finish. And their chemistry is just getting better with each game."
While they are both forwards, McGowan feels the differences in their games complement each other.
"We play the same spot, but we're a little different in our ways," McGowan said. "Amari is more guard-oriented and I'm more post-oriented. And we do pretty well passing high-low. We've been playing together since seventh grade, so we just know each other very well."
Stopping them both is a task that Spring Grove coach Gerry Rohrbaugh's club struggled with all night.
"They play really well together," he said. "We tried to have help-side defense, but they worked the ball and got position and there's not much we could do."
While the Rockets (2-3 overall, 0-2 Division II) had their hands full with the Wildcats' inside players, it was a similar struggle for Manlove's club to stop Spring Grove standout Morgan Arden. Arden, who leads the league in scoring at 26.4 points a game, splashed in 23 points to almost single-handedly keep her team in the contest.
"She's a very dangerous player," Manlove said. "I feel like she can drop 30 points without thinking about it. She has five kids on her all day, every day. Last year she hung 26 on us. And they have some really good role players and they have some size, too."
The game was a bit of a roller coaster, especially in the first half. The Rockets vaulted to a 10-4 lead early behind eight points from Arden.
Dallastown answered with a 9-0 run to close the quarter. The visitors stretched the lead to 15-12 early in the second before Arden and company rallied with a 9-0 spurt of their own to go up 21-15.
Behind five points from Johnson and four from McGowan, the Wildcats responded with a 13-0 run that sent them into the half with a 28-21 advantage.
That lead grew to as much as 15 points at 41-26 before the Rockets started to chip away. Spring Grove finished the third on a 6-0 run and added an 8-2 run to start the fourth to get to within 43-40, with only four of those points coming from Arden.
The Spring Grove senior standout did knock down a jumper to cut the deficit to two at 44-42, but a 7-0 run by the Wildcats helped close out the victory.
"It's all about who gets the run at the end of the game," Rohrbaugh said. "The girls didn't quit and I gave them that in the locker room. I said, 'you girls didn't quit and that's all that I can ask.'"
Dallastown's Alex Lehman was the only other player to reach double figures in scoring with 10 points.
OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL
West York 49, Eastern York 28: At Wrightsville, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 22-6 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Kari Lankford scored 15 points to pace the winners, while Lauren Beaver had 11 points for Eastern. Both teams are now 3-1 overall.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.