RED LION – There were a number of goals that Troy Sowers had in mind when he took over the Spring Grove girls’ basketball program this year.
Perhaps one of the biggest of them, however, seemed a bit ambitious.
“We made a goal to be the highest-scoring team in the league,” Sowers said after his team improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in York-Adams Division I by defeating Red Lion, 42-37, Monday evening. “We want to play fast, and we think that we have the ball handlers and the size and speed that will enable us to score points.”
So far, so good for Sowers and his Rockets, who are now alone in first place in the division. Spring Grove entered the night atop the league at more than 58 points a game. Monday’s result against a defensively tough Red Lion club, however, knocked Sowers and his squad down to third at 55 points a game.
Sophomore emerges for Rockets: While Sowers inherited a squad that returned nearly all of their key players from last year’s run to the PIAA tournament, the uptick in scoring this season can be attributed in part to a player that had a very minimal role last year.
Ella Kale, who averaged 3.3 points a game as a freshman, is thriving under Sowers. The sophomore is leading her team in scoring at 14.2 points a contest.
“I told people all the way back at (York-Adams) media day,” Sowers said. “If you don’t know Ella Kale now, which nobody did, you’re going to know soon. She just has that extra burst of speed off the dribble and really good shooting form.”
Kale led the Rockets Monday with 12 points. Her emergence has seemed to help last year’s standout, junior Haley Wagman, as well.
Wagman, who led the Rockets in scoring at 11.4 points a game last year, is averaging an even better 12.6 points per game so far this year.
“Haley and the others provide a lot for me in terms of getting shots,” Kale said. “I know that sometimes when people face-guard (Haley) that I get some open shots because they’re so worried about her.”
"Like a family:" As more teams get to know about Kale, it seems likely that the roles may get reversed, and Kale is fine with that.
“I think that we’re all like a family,” she said. “We all share the ball. We’re all just looking to get the best shot possible. I know that we could all choose to be selfish, but we all choose not to and that’s my favorite thing about this team.”
Sowers liked how his team held up late in the contest against a Red Lion team that knows how to apply pressure under veteran coach Don Dimoff. Very few, if any, of Spring Grove’s turnovers resulted in fast-break points for the Lions, who fell to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in the division.
“Coach Dimoff always has his girls playing hard,” Sowers said. “And the game is never over for them. especially with the tenacity that they have on defense. But we held on and did what we needed to do.”
Lions falling just short: For Dimoff, who returned to the bench after spending the past two years as an assistant coach with the Millersville University women’s basketball team, the difference between his team being 5-0 and 2-3 this year is a mere 10 points.
A two-point loss in overtime against Central last week was followed by a three-point setback against South Western Friday and a five-point setback vs. the Rockets.
Dimoff, who is known as one of the most competitive coaches in the area, still feels optimistic about where his team could end up by the season’s end.
“We didn’t play terribly in any of our losses,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors, but we also have a lot of young kids. And we’re working hard, but we just have to find ways to finish. To start the second half we missed a couple of easy ones right out of the gate that could have tied it or taken the lead and you can’t let that happen when you’re playing against a very good team.”
Susquehannock 57, Biglerville 22: At Biglerville, Jayla Galbreath pumped in 23 points and Jaden Walker added 17 to power the Warriors. Galbreath had five 3-pointers, while Walker had three. The Warriors improved to 4-1. Biglerville fell to 1-2.
Red Lion 62, Spring Grove 38: At Spring Grove, Davante Dennis poured in 30 points to power the Lions to the York-Adams Division I triumph. Madison Moore had 13 points in a losing cause. The Lions improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in D-I. The Rockets fell to 0-5 and 0-3.
Susquehannock 76, Biglerville 62: At Glen Rock, the Warriors scored 28 points in the first quarter and added 25 more in the third quarter en route to the victory. Susquehannock's scoring leaders were Jake Eden (19 points), Jalen Franklin (15), Gavin Held (10) and Will Ogude (10). Eden had five 3-pointers. Susquehannock is now 3-4, while Biglerville is 3-2.
Manheim Twp. 4, Central York 2: At York City Ice Arena, the York County team came up short in a Central Penn Interscholastic Hockey League Bears Division game. Ryan Myers had both Central York goals, while Evan Bean had an assist. Conner McCaffrey had 30 saves in a losing cause. Central fell to 2-9, while Township is 4-5.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.