It may not be the "Shot Heard 'Round the World," but it may have nearly the same meaning for the West York girls' basketball team.
With time ticking down and the Bulldogs trailing visiting Dallastown by a point, guard Emily Wood drove the baseline toward the hoop. As the Wildcat defense collapsed on her, she found teammate Jess Noll wide open on the weak side. Without a defender near her, Noll drove to the basket and laid the ball up.
Then it bounced.
And bounced again.
Then it dropped.
Noll's basket with 19.0 seconds left turned out to be the game-winner. The Wildcats turned the ball over on a travel call with 4.8 seconds remaining. After a missed free throw and a timeout, the visitors failed to get off a shot in the final 2.7 seconds, sending the Bulldogs to a 40-39 victory.
The triumph broke a deadlock atop the York-Adams League Division I standings. The Bulldogs (16-2, 10-2) hold a one-game lead over both Dallastown (13-6, 9-3) and Red Lion (13-6, 9-3) with three games to play.
Noll's game-winner was anything but certain during a half when the home team failed to convert on at least seven other layups. Noll admitted that she wasn't confident in her only basket of the night.
"It just felt like lead," she said. "That ball was so heavy. I just couldn't get it up there, but I was glad when it went in."
Bulldog coach Jon Shultz's heart may have skipped a beat during that sequence, especially after seeing his team squander a 26-21 lead at the half by getting outscored 12-6 in the third period.
"I was just trying to will that one in," Shultz said.
Wood, who led all scorers with 16 points, was a bit nervous watching the ball from underneath the basket.
"I was praying," Wood said. "It seemed like in the second half we couldn't get the ball to go in no matter what we did (but) it fell when it needed to."
The victory earned the Bulldogs a slice of revenge against a Wildcat team that downed them a few weeks ago. In that contest, West York had a number of starters sick with the flu. They also played that contest without leading scorer Sarah Shearer, a feat they will have to get used to after the Bulldog senior tore a knee ligament in a loss to Dover more than 10 days ago.
"We were sick and this and that, but to be honest, we just didn't play up to our ability," said Shultz of the teams' previous meeting. "So we knew we had to come out and show them what we can do. I was proud of the way that they played tonight."
With Shearer relegated to a support leader on the bench, the Bulldogs have turned to their guards to carry some of the scoring slack. That's something that Wood and her other starting guard teammates, Kari Lankford and Heather Zinn, have taken to heart after a bit of a verbal thrashing from Shultz during practices.
"I felt that all of us stepped up to his challenge," Wood said. "And we played hard and we came through."
Fellow sophomore Lankford finished with 10 points, with most of her damage coming from an 8-for-9 showing from the free throw line. Zinn, a senior, added eight in the triumph.
While the Bulldogs helped force the Wildcats into 21 turnovers during the contest, the visitors were able to remain close with a healthy 40-22 rebounding advantage. Dallastown's Amari Johnson finished with a double-double. The sophomore scored 11 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Shannon Thomas led the 'Cats with 12 points.
Coach Mary Manlove's team regained a 39-38 lead with just about two minutes left after Thomas knocked down the third of her three 3-pointers. After a West York miss, the Wildcats held the ball, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 that could have extended the lead.
After a timeout, the Bulldogs took nearly a minute off the clock, trying to find a hole in the Dallastown defense. Eventually Wood drove the baseline before finding Noll for the game-winning basket.
While Manlove was pleased with her team's determination and heart, it was a defensive miscue that allowed Noll to be open, and which ultimately cost the Wildcats control of their own destiny in the season's final 10 days.
"I'm asking these girls to play as best as they can, but one or two mental errors can be the difference in a game," Manlove said. "And I think that was the difference tonight."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.