West York girls rally to clinch state playoff berth; other Tuesday District 3 basketball

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
  • West York defeated Palmyra 37-29 on Tuesday in girls' basketball action.
  • The Bulldogs victory came in a District 3 Class 5-A first-round contest.
  • West York clinched a berth in the PIAA Class 5-A state tournament with the win.
  • West York trailed vs. Palmyra at halftime, 20-12, only to storm back for the win.

WEST YORK – Often, there is a key moment in a game that can be highlighted as a turning point.

Tuesday evening at West York High School, there was certainly one of those moments, and it wasn’t a pretty one, either.

Trailing 20-12 to start the second half, the West York girls’ basketball team started to rally against visiting Palmyra in a District 3 Class 5-A first-round tussle.

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Then something happened that no one ever likes to see — Palmyra senior Zoe Smith appeared to seriously injure her knee while attempting to escape pressure near halfcourt. Smith did not return and her injury seemed to deflate a Cougars squad that appeared poised for an upset.

The Bulldogs took advantage of the situation, outscoring the visitors 16-5 over the final 10-plus minutes to earn a 37-29 victory.

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West York, the No. 5 seed in the bracket, improved to 15-7 while also securing a PIAA Class 5-A state berth. At 7 p.m. Friday, the Bulldogs will meet the winner of Wednesday’s clash between No. 4 Manheim Central and No. 13 New Oxford. The location is yet to be determined.

“That’s just hard to watch,” West York coach James Kunkle said. “(Smith) is the heart and soul of that team.”

Smith’s injury clearly shifted the momentum that the Cougars built up through an impressive first half. Trailing by eight at intermission the Bulldogs began to apply some pressure defense to the Cougars in the backcourt. Struggling to get the ball up the court, Smith attempted to spin out from the pressure, but in the process twisted her knee awkwardly.

The Bulldogs picked up the loose ball when Smith went down and scored an uncontested layup to pull within three points before officials whistled for an injury timeout.

After Smith was tended to for several minutes, Reagan Doll drained a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs even with 66 seconds left in the third.

The visitors sank two free throws early in the fourth to regain the lead momentarily, but it didn’t last. WY went on a 10-1 run and never looked back.

West York's Alainna Hopta gets tripped and draws a foul en route to the hoop against Palmyra in a District 3 Class 5-A first-round game at West York Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. West York would win 37-29. Bill Kalina photo

It certainly wasn’t a pretty game for the Bulldogs, who turned the ball over eight times in an ugly first half. A number of missed shots inside the paint also didn’t help.

Kunkle could only shake his head.

“A ‘W’ is a ‘W,’” he said with a grin. “We had to calm down and start playing our game, which we did in the second half.”

T'Azjah Generett led a statistically balanced attack for the Bulldogs with eight points while Faith Walker and Doll each finished with seven. Mallory Margut led Palmyra (11-12) with 12 points.

Tense situation: Smith’s injury led to a bit of a tense situation with 2:26 left in the third.

The Palmyra fans were clearly upset by what happened and were voicing their displeasure.

So, too, was their scorekeeper, who is Smith’s father.  He stood up and went on the court to check on his daughter. During his walk over to midcourt, Smith had words for the officials, who whistled a technical foul.

The foul, however, was rescinded when the officiating crew realized Smith wasn’t on the Palmyra bench.

That circumstance drew the ire of the West York fans and coaches, who were expecting to be awarded free throws from the technical foul call. Kunkle, who questioned the officials for a few moments about the situation, relented and play resumed, but the hometown fans were displeased.

As it turned out, the decision may have been just what Kunkle and his team needed.

“I think that did us a bit of favor,” Kunkle said. “The crowd was really energized by it and we kind of fed off of it.”

OTHER DISTRICT 3 GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

York Catholic 58, Susquenita 39: At York, the Irish advanced to the District 3 Class 3-A semifinals and clinched a state playoff berth with the win. Meredith Smith (19) and Drew Kile (18) combined for 37 Irish points. The fourth-seeded YC girls moved to 11-12. Fifth-seeded Susquenita finished 12-10. In the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday, YC will travel to top-seeded Brandywine Heights (17-5), which had a bye on Tuesday.

Christian School of York 47, West Shore Christian 17: At York, the Christian School of York moved to the District 3 Class 1-A semifinals and sewed up a state berth with the victory. Ellen Brown led CSY with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Rylie Bell added 10 points for the Defenders, while Kayleigh Rhine collected 13 assists.No. 1 seed CSY is now 22-2, with three of those wins coming over West Shore Christian. No. 8 seed West Shore Christian fell to 10-11. In the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at CSY, the Defenders will play host to fourth-seeded New Covenant Christian (13-7), which earned a 42-31 quarterfinal win over High Point Baptist (14-8) on Tuesday. CSY has beaten New Covenant twice this season, with both victories coming by at least 26 points.

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Bermudian Springs 77, Wyomissing 48: At York Springs, the York-Adams League champion Eagles opened District 3 Class 4-A action with a win. Lily Peters (27), Hannah Chenault (23) and Bailey Oehmig (16) combined for 66 of Bermudian's 77 points. Bermudian trailed 19-16 after one quarter but used a 26-9 second-quarter surge to take control, 42-28. Wyomissing did close to within 50-40 heading into the final period, but Bermudian responded with 27-8 closing run. The 10th-seeded Eagles improved to 22-4. Wyomissing finished at 13-10. On Friday, in a quarterfinal, Bermudian will travel to No. 2 seed Eastern York (20-3). Eastern had a first-round bye. The Eagles and Golden Knights split two meetings this season.

Gettysburg 45, Garden Spot 29: At Gettysburg, the second-seeded Warriors captured the District 3 Class 5-A first-round victory and clinched a state playoff berth. Individually for the Warriors, Anne Bair returned from an ankle injury to score a game-high 15 points, to go with four rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Bair's teammate, Camryn Felix, scored 11 points. Gettysburg (18-5) moves on to the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday and will host Lampeter-Strasburg. No. 15 seed Garden Spot finished at 11-12.

Twin Valley 43, Spring Grove 38: At Twin Valley, the ninth-seeded Rockets fell short vs. the eighth-seeded hosts in a District 3 Class 5-A first-round battle. Spring Grove’s season ended at 9-12. Twin Valley is 15-8. Leah Kale led the Rockets with 22 points, including three 3-pointers. She was also 9 for 10 at the foul line. Addyson Wagman added 12 points for the Rockets, including a 7-for-10 effort at the foul line. Spring Grove trailed 25-14 at halftime before outscoring TV 24-18 in the second half, but the rally came up short.

Lampeter-Strasburg 54, York Suburban 33: At Lampeter-Strasburg, the 10th-seeded Trojans trailed 26-7 at the half and were unable to recover vs. the seventh-seeded hosts, dropping the District 3 Class 5-A first-round game. Grace Hare led the Trojans with 12 points on four 3-pointers. Teammate Janay Rissmiller had 11 points. Suburban’s season ends at 13-10. L-S improved to 15-8.

Mechanicsburg 50, Northeastern 32: At Mechanicsburg, Northeastern saw its season end with a District 3 Class 5-A first-round setback. No. 16 seed Northeastern finished at 9-14. No. 1 seed Mechanicsburg improved to 19-4. Lorelei Harfield led Northeastern with 15 points.

DISTRICT 3 BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Chambersburg 45, Red Lion 41: At Chambersburg, the sixth-seeded Trojans outscored the 11th-seeded Lions 12-8 in the final quarter to capture the District 3 Class 6-A first-round victory. Red Lion’s Evan Watt scored a game-high 17 points, including three from behind the arc, while teammate Sammy Vaught scored 11 points. Red Lion’s season ends at 18-7. Chambersburg moved to 17-5.

Lancaster Mennonite 59, Fairfield 42: At Lancaster, the third-seeded Green Knights trailed 28-15 at the half and were unable to recover and dropped the District 3 Class 2-A first-round game. Eric Ball led the Green Knights by scoring 20 points. Fairfield’s season ends at 12-11. Third-seeded LM improved to 14-9.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.