READING — The Dallastown girls' basketball team got a taste of its own medicine on Friday.
As a stout defensive team, the Wildcats used their speed at the guard position and their height at forward to hold York-Adams League teams to low point totals. They allowed 33.4 points per game entering the District 3 Class 6-A championship game against Cumberland Valley and were coming off a 35-15 win over Cedar Cliff in the semifinals.
In the Santander Arena on Friday night, however, it was Cumberland Valley's defense that shut down Dallastown's offense. The No. 1-seeded Eagles used similar speed, length and physicality to hold the No. 2-seeded Wildcats to their lowest point output of the season in a 33-27 victory.
“We knew they were really good defensively,” said Dallastown head coach Jay Rexroth. “Our fear was that we weren’t going to score enough points. We thought the first one to 40 (points) would win the game. I guess it was the first one to 33 tonight.”
A key part of Dallastown’s offense revolves around forwards Samantha Miller and Aniya Matthews, who stand at 6-foot and 6-foot, 3-inches, respectively. For much of the game, however, Cumberland Valley prevented passes in the paint for the forwards to score. They totaled eight points, with only two coming in the first three periods.
“We tried to get the ball inside, but defensively they pushed us off our spots,” Rexroth said. “They’re a Mid-Penn team. They have big, strong players, and they’re going to do that to everybody.”
“We feel fortunate to have won the game,” said Cumberland Valley head coach William Wolf. “We focused on trying to prevent their inside game. We wanted to get as much pressure on their passers.”
The district championship appearance is Dallastown’s first since 1978.
“For Dallastown to get to the finals for the first time in 41 years is a lot to be proud of,” Rexroth said.
Comeback attempt: The Wildcats (24-3) trailed by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, and considering they only scored 13 in the first three periods, it seemed as if the Eagles (22-4) would cruise to victory.
Dallastown, which entered the contest on a 19-game winning streak, found its inside game, however, scoring baskets in the paint on its first two possessions to cut its deficit to six points with about six minutes remaining.
The Eagles then increased their lead to nine points with three minutes left. Dallastown’s Claire Teyral and D’Shantae Edwards then hit 3-pointers in the final three minutes, which reduced CV’s lead to three points with about 10 seconds left. Edwards narrowly stole the inbounds pass but was called for a foul. Eagles guard Kennedy Kuffa, who scored 10 points to tie for the team lead with Hannah Sauve, made her first free throw and then got the offensive rebound after missing the second to seal the win.
“Our kids are fighters,” Rexroth said. “You don’t win 24 games or 19 straight games without being fighters. … I had no doubt that our kids would come back and fight.”
Edwards’ performance: It’s not often that a team with a freshman point guard makes it to a district title game, but Rexroth said Edwards isn’t like other freshmen.
“She is going to be a big-time player,” he said. “I knew this stage wouldn’t be too big for her. Her basketball IQ is off the charts. … She’s got a bright future.”
Edwards led the Wildcats with 11 points and created several turnovers with her tenacious defense.
Future rivalry?: Both Cumberland Valley and Dallastown have young rosters, as the Eagles and the Wildcats will each graduate only two starters.
“I’m sure we’ll have a few more battles in the next few years,” Wolf said.
“We might see those guys again down the line here in states,” Rexroth said.
PIAA playoffs: Despite the loss, Dallastown’s season isn’t over. As the No. 2 seed from District 3, the Wildcats will play the No. 8 seed from District 1 in the state tournament.
Cumberland Valley will face off against the No. 5 seed from District 7. The Wildcats and Eagles are on opposite sides of the bracket.
Sites and times for the games on Friday, March 8, are to be determined.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.