SPRING GROVE -- There was little doubt about Red Lion's primary goal Monday night when the Lions visited rival Spring Grove for a girls' basketball battle -- contain Rocket standout Morgan Arden.
The Lions wanted to make sure the York-Adams League's leading scorer wouldn't single-handedly send them home with an upset loss.
So Head Coach Don Dimoff threw pretty much every defense he could at Arden, who came into the contest averaging 24.9 points a showing. Double teams, zones and box-and-one defenses were just a few of the fronts that the Lions employed to stop her.
And while it worked to a great degree -- the Shepherd University recruit was held to a season-low 10 points -- attention paid to Arden's teammates was lacking at times, a fact that clearly disappointed Dimoff.
So, too, did a near collapse over the final eight minutes of the contest. Behind by a seemingly comfortable 15-point margin early in the fourth quarter, the Rockets rallied behind their defense to cut the deficit to a basket with just more than two minutes remaining.
Were it not for a couple of defensive lapses by the home team late that allowed Red Lion a pair of easy layins, it could have been a rough bus ride home for Dimoff's club. Instead the Lions pulled out a 52-46 victory to cap their third victory in a hectic four nights.
"We did a lot of good things, and you knew (Spring Grove) wasn't going to quit," Dimoff said. "They're too good to quit. I thought we did a great job on Arden tonight. I just thought that we were so focused at times on her that we kind of forgot about everybody else."
While Arden, who entered the night needing 24 points to reach 1,000 for her career, was mired in a shooting slump through the first three quarters, her teammates were able to keep things relatively close. The inside duo of Erika Gregory (14 points) and Brooke Osborne (10 points) were the beneficiaries of the extra defensive attention paid to Arden, which resulted in some good looks inside.
"The inside was there," Spring Grove coach Gerry Rohrbaugh said. "We could get it inside and I kept preaching that. The post was there and we had to get the ball inside."
The Rockets (4-5 overall, 1-4 Division II) didn't start to regularly attack inside until early in the final period. After Natalie Reba drained a jumper to put the Lions ahead 46-31, the home team rallied. Arden sparked a 13-0 run with five quick points, while Osborne and Gregory took care of the final eight points of the spurt.
The Rockets forced eight turnovers during that run, which added some drama to what looked to be an otherwise comfortable victory for the Lions (7-2, 4-1 Division I).
"We saw what was coming and I don't think we reacted to it too well," Dimoff said. "So you know we'll practice and get better at that."
With the game on the line, the visitors were able to capitalize on the aggressive pressure that was applied by a normally more subdued Spring Grove defense. The Rockets got a couple of traps, but were victimized when Red Lion forwards Devan Horka (14 points) and Morgan Kuehne (12 points) received open looks inside the paint after passes that beat the press.
"They had to come out and attack us and come out and trap us and we didn't handle it well," Dimoff said. "Once I called a timeout and we decided on what we were doing, that's how we got those two layups. I was just disappointed that I had to call the timeout to do that and I was hoping that we would recognize that beforehand."
While Rohrbaugh was pleased with his team's effort to get back into the game late, he's fully aware there are no moral victories in what is a very competitive league.
"We're playing a lot of good competition and we've come out on the short end of it," he said. "We've got to try to turn this around."
The Rockets will try to do that Friday when they take on Division II-leading Dover (8-0,4-0). They'll also try to get Arden the 14 points she needs to reach her milestone, although it won't be easy against an Eagle squad that is allowing just 30.9 points a game.
"Hopefully she'll get that so we can get that off her plate," Rohrbaugh said. "I think she might be really pressing and trying to do too much."
Courtney Dimoff, the league's top 3-point shooter with 24 triples on the year, added two more Monday. She finished with 14 points for Red Lion. The Lions will get a chance to rest up a little before taking on New Oxford (5-4, 2-2) Friday night.
OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL
Susquehannock 47, Lancaster McCaskey 35: At Lancaster, Susquehannock broke open a close game by outscoring the Red Tornado, 15-3, in the third quarter. Shannon Druck, Katie Wagner and Abbey Barnhart combined for 39 of the Warriors' points. Susquehannock improved to 8-2 with the non-league victory. The Warriors were very proficient at the foul line, connecting on 14 of 18 attempts (78 percent).
East Pennsboro 40, York High 39: At York, the Bearcats trailed by 12 at the half, but trimmed the Panthers' lead to two points entering the final quarter, but fell just short of picking up the non-league victory. Chyna Steele led York with 17 points, while Dejanay Givens knocked in 11.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.