DOVER -- No matter how hard the Northeastern girls' basketball team tried, there was no way Alayah Hall and her Dover teammates were going to let the Bobcats ruin Hall's historic night.
Hall needed just one point on Tuesday to become the girls' all-time leading scorer in program history.
While she got that out of the way early, it wasn't exactly the type of night that Hall envisioned. Minutes after she knocked down a long jumper to eclipse Lisa Albright's previous mark of 1,217 points set back in 1985, Hall quickly was whistled for three fouls. That forced the senior standout to the bench for the rest of the first half.
The Eagles, however, proved they are much more than just a one-girl gang. Hall's teammates helped erase a seven-point deficit without their captain.
The Bobcats, however, refused to buckle. Coach Bill Novak's club used an 11-0 run to take the lead in the final period.
But after Ashley Meyer knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:03 left that broke a 47-all tie, the Eagles forced three Northeastern turnovers in the final 60 seconds while getting a basket from Hall and four big free throws from Lindsey Fowler.
Northeastern's Payton Hauck had a chance to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, but her shot clanked off the rim, preserving a hectic 53-50 victory for Dover.
"We're real proud of her," Dover coach Troy Lokhaiser said of Hall. "She's obviously a huge part of this team and a fantastic player. A huge accomplishment for her and it's something she can be proud of for years to come."
Hall's big moment came with 6:40 left in the first when she drained a shot to tie the game at 2-2. Hall was then recognized for the achievement. She was presented the game ball by an official. The Dover star then made her way up into the bleachers, where she gave the ball to her mom, Angela, while being congratulated by the fans and the rest of the her family.
The moment, which was similar to when she broke the 1,000-point mark last year, was something that Hall didn't really want to belabor.
"I just went up to (my mom) real quick," Hall said of the moment. "It felt good, but I was just trying to get the game started back."
Things turned south quickly for the guard. A defensive foul, an offensive foul and another defensive foul within a span of three minutes sent the Dover standout to the bench for the rest of the half with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
"I was mad at myself for having three fouls," Hall said. "But I think my team can do it (without me)."
Fowler, who finished with seven points, agreed.
"We're going to step up and do what we have to do," Fowler said.
True enough, the Eagles (9-0 overall, 5-0 Division II) showed they are more than just Hall, who entered the night averaging 15 points a contest. After falling behind 17-10 early in the second quarter, the home team responded quickly behind Hall's replacement, Holly Fox. Fox scored on a layin and then knocked down a triple to cut the deficit to two.
By the time the half was over, the score was knotted at 23-23, which clearly was a boost for the Eagles.
"I told everybody that it was time to step up," Lokhaiser said. "And they certainly did. Certainly the girls responded and there's no doubt about that."
The time on the bench seemed to ignite a fire under Hall, who scored nine of her game-high 20 points in the third stanza.
But even with a re-energized Hall, the visitors wouldn't go away. After the Eagles stretched their lead to 41-34 early in the fourth, the Bobcats rallied back with an 11-0 spurt to go up 45-41 with 2:56 remaining.
Meyer (16 points) and Hauck (17 points) fueled that surge. Northeastern seemed primed to complete an upset of the unbeaten Eagles.
Things looked even better after Meyer drained a triple with 1:03 left on the clock to put the Bobcats up 50-47. The Dover defense, however, came up big with a couple of steals combined with a big offensive rebound by Fowler. Fowler's rebound of a missed shot by Hall resulted in the go-ahead free throws with 27.7 seconds left to put Dover ahead 51-50.
"That was the biggest free throws I've had," Fowler said. "Ever."
Fowler then hit another pair with 3.7 left before Hauck's desperation shot at the buzzer barely missed.
Novak, whose team fell to 5-6 overall and 1-5 in Division II with the loss, pointed to a couple of key areas that hampered his team.
"We need to make layups and we need to make free throws," Novak said. "I think we missed four layups in the first half and probably another three in the second. And we were 5-of-15 at the line."
While there are no moral victories in his book, Novak did take some pleasure in seeing his team give the home team a run for its money.
"I was extremely proud of the way they hung in there and came back to take the lead," he said. "To not do all that (missing layups and free throws) and to stay in the game like we did, I was proud of."
OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL
Red Lion 47, South Western 25: At Red Lion, the Lions held the visitors to single digits at the half (25-9) and went on to capture the York-Adams Division I victory. Devan Horka and Courtney Dimoff led the Lions with 10 points apiece. Red Lion moved to 5-2 in the division and 8-3 overall.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org