MANCHESTER -- The Northeastern girls' basketball team was in the Christmas spirit Wednesday evening against York-Adams League rival Central York.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, that spirit didn't include any much-needed gifts on the basketball court.
Coach Bill Novak's club shared the basketball among themselves in perhaps the best game the Bobcats have played so far in this young season. There were four Bobcats that scored at least eight points, led by sophomore Jordyn Kloster's 12 points.
Despite a slow and sometimes ugly start, the home team was able to play through the rough stretch early to pull out a 43-39 victory.
"We started moving the ball," Novak said. "We shared the basketball tonight and that's the best thing we can do. When we are good, we share the basketball. Everybody touches the ball, everybody shoots the ball and we're attacking and not laying back. I think we were laying back there in the beginning."
The Bobcats fell behind 16-8 after one period. The deficit remained the same early into the second quarter before Novak's club started to get things in gear against a sometimes aggressive Central York squad.
After committing seven turnovers in the first quarter, the Bobcats only issued one during a 13-0 spurt when they took control of the contest for good.
"We started to turn up the pressure and Jordyn started to get the feel and started to do her thing," said Novak, whose club improved to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in Division II.
Kloster, the team's second-leading scorer at 11.3 points a game, was held to just two points and no rebounds in the first period. The sophomore scored half of her points in the second quarter while starting to dominate on the boards. She finished with a game-high 17 rebounds.
Teammates Shay Mathison (11) and Ashley Meyer (10) also reached double digits in scoring, while leading scorer Payton Hauck was limited to just eight.
Central coach Scott Wisner was clearly disappointed with his team's performance. Wisner, who led the Panthers to a District 3-AAAA title back in 1999 during his first stint as head coach, would like to get his team in a position to employ more full-court, in-your-face pressure throughout the contest. His club, however, wasn't quite ready to meet that demand a night after losing to Dover in a hard-fought contest.
"I can only hope that was the result of playing a second night in a row after giving a lot of effort (Tuesday) night," he said. "Obviously we got really flat there and obviously that run got away from us."
The Panthers found it difficult to mount a more fruitful comeback because of two factors -- fouls and missed shots. Central was whistled for 21 fouls and played much of the fourth quarter in the double-bonus.Add in an off-night shooting -- the Panthers converted on just 14-of-58 attempts from the field (24.1 percent) -- and that's not an ideal recipe to rally.
Despite those obstacles, Wisner's club was able to make a game of it late. Kelsey Wisner, who led all scorers with 15 points, knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:28 left to even up the contest. That proved to be the last points of the night for the visitors, who fell to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in Division I.
"We definitely had a big drought," Wisner said.
Life won't get much easier for the Panthers. They have contests against reigning Division I champion West York (3-1, 2-0) and perennial power Red Lion (2-2, 1-1) over the next five days.
Novak hopes Wednesday's victory serves as a springboard for his team, which must get ready for a showdown next week against a tough Susquehannock (4-1, 2-1) squad.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.