There's no question that the York College women's basketball team has some big aspirations this season.
Namely, the Spartans are hoping for a long postseason run that includes a berth into the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Just getting there, however, is only half of the battle. Spartans head coach Betsy Witman wants to make sure her team is also fully prepared if it gets there.
That's why Witman intentionally scheduled games such as the one on Wednesday, Dec. 13, against perennial Landmark Conference power Scranton. The Royals are coming off the program's fourth straight season of winning at least 24 games and they don't appear to be stopping anytime soon.
The visitors rallied from a six-point deficit in the third quarter and a one-point hole with 1 minute, 41 seconds left. Led by Bridgette Mann, who scored nine of her team-high 19 points over the final 92 seconds, Scranton claimed a 67-63 triumph.
The setback marked the second in a row for Witman's club, which fell 68-47 against Capital Athletic Conference rival Marymount this past Saturday. The Spartans head into the holiday break at 6-3. Scranton improved 6-1.
“It would have been great to go into the break with a win, but I was still proud to see us play like the way we did, which is a real positive," Witman said. "If we would have played like that (Saturday) against Marymount, it might have been a different result.”
Dallastown grad McGowan shines: Mann's late-game heroics put a damper on another outstanding game from junior forward Katie McGowan. The former Dallastown High School standout set a new career high with 24 points. It marked the fourth game in a row that McGowan has scored at least 18 points.
“She's matured," Witman said. "She's worked hard at her game. She got in the gym this summer and worked hard on her post moves.”
McGowan leads the CAC in both free throws made (44) and attempted (59). She added to those totals after converting on all four attempts Wednesday.
“She's just stronger, more skilled, confident and more aggressive," Witman said. "And she doesn't get down on herself. She just plays through it, and that's a big difference from last year.”
York suffers slow start: While York had the lead several times in the second half, the Spartans played from behind at start. The Royals knocked down 60 percent of their shots in the first quarter to take a 25-14 lead.
“We got in a hole at the beginning," Witman said. "And we've done that several times already this year. We had to dig ourselves out of it and we did. I think defensively we really just dug down deep.”
York is off until Thursday, Dec. 28, when the Spartans play Framingham State in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.