BASKETBALL

Northeastern girls' basketball holds off Susquehannock for another D-II victory

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

MANCHESTER — It hasn’t always been pretty. It hasn’t always been easy, either. But the Northeastern girls’ basketball team is feeling quite comfortable in their new digs in York-Adams Division II.

Night in and night out, it has been a grind for the Bobcats this season, but the Manchester girls are getting it done. In its latest home game Tuesday evening, Northeastern was challenge by a game Susquehannock side that like to shot from the perimeter. The threat of a 3-pointer at any point can make even a double-digit lead feel a bit shaky at times.

That was certainly the case Tuesday. Just when the Bobcats seemed poised to pull away, the Warriors made a shot to leave a bit of unease in head coach Moe Coleman’s stomach. Fortunately for Coleman, his Northeastern girls were able to hold on for a 45-36 triumph.

York Suburban against Northeastern during their girls basketball game in Spring Garden on Friday Jan.6, 2023.

“That’s a good team over there,” Coleman said of the Warriors. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight just like every other game in the division this season.”

So far, the Bobcats have come out on top in all four of their Division II battles. Tuesday’s victory improved their overall record to 10-2; the program's 10th victory of the season surpassed last year’s win total of nine with just under half of the regular season left on the schedule.

Not many of those wins, however, have been of the uber-comfortable variety. Victories over Eastern York (51-41) and York Suburban (39-36) were undecided well into the final period before Coleman’s team pulled through. That was also the case Tuesday as the Warriors presented a challenge unlike most other Division II opponents. Instead of trying to penetrate the defense inside, the Susquehannock girls were looking for open looks beyond the arc much of the night.

“We knew that,” Coleman said. “And that’s why we had to change up our defenses more so than I normally would. We wanted to try to not give them the same look over and over, but they still got some great looks.”

The Warriors knocked down four 3-pointers in the contest, with each one coming from a different player. There were also a handful of near misses that really could have tilted the game in Susquehannock’s favor had they fallen through.

“We just need to do better to make sure that we’re in the right rotation on those,” Coleman said. “And, luckily for us, they didn’t drop.”

Lauralye Kennedy came up clutch several times for the Bobcats Tuesday. The sophomore guard knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third period as part of her game-high 14 points.

Northeastern's Lauralye Kennedy (23) against York Suburban during their girls basketball game in Spring Garden on Friday Jan.6, 2023.

Kennedy, who averaged 5.0 points per game as a freshman, credits Coleman for helping the program turn around a 9-14 mark from a season ago.

“I think the coaching is a difference, and we are playing as a team way more than we did last year," Kennedy said. "That’s part of our saying — ‘why not us?’ — so we just all came together and all wanted to prove something to the community. We’ve always kind of been seen as the team that everyone was going to beat, but now people are starting to realize that we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Kennedy is hoping that the school and community, which have rabidly been attending boys’ basketball games for the past two decades, will turn out to cheer on a team that is generating the attention of programs throughout the league as well as District 3.

“It’s a little frustrating because the boys will have a big student section and we don’t get anything,” Kennedy said. "So we’re just trying to prove to the school that we’re a good team and one that they should watch.”

While the Bobcats are riding high atop the division standings at this point, Coleman knows there’s still a long way to go before his team can hang a banner in the gymnasium as Division II champions.

“Tonight was a huge one for us,” Coleman said. “And I kind of mentioned that tonight before the game and maybe I threw a little too much pressure on them, but they held serve. And that’s what we need to do. It might not always be pretty, but we have to keep fighting. There are six (other teams in Division II) and every one of them is built differently and it’s definitely going to be a fight.”

Northeastern still has clashes with West York and Kennard-Dale this week before going back around the divisional rotation again next week with a big showdown against reigning Division II champ Eastern York. The Bobcats rallied in the fourth quarter in the first clash and know the Knights will be eager to even the score the second go-around.

Colleen Finnegan was the only other player to reach double-figures in scoring as the Northeastern forward finished with 10 points. Dylan Elliott led the Warriors (7-4, 3-2 D-II) with eight points.