DOVER – There was a hope that the Dover girls’ basketball coaching position would stabilize and grow under Marley Klunk.
Taking over the program when Troy Lokhaiser stepped down, Klunk figured to be around for many years after accepting her first head coaching gig.
That thought changed recently.
The quick turnover caught Bill Garrison, who never really looked to take over the program, by surprise.
In a strange way, however, it still appears that the program could continue to progress, even after Klunk was forced to step down a few weeks ago because night classes interfered with her ability to coach the team. That’s because Garrison, who has assisted former Dover coaches Mike Sanders, Lokhaiser and Klunk, has assumed the head coaching position this season.
“Yes, very much so,” Garrison said, when asked if he was surprised to take over. “This never really even crossed my mind. I was happy (coaching) the JV team, like I have these past four years.”
Garrison’s years around the program figure to be quite useful. As the JV coach, he has grown quite familiar with all of the girls throughout the program. Those girls, too, feel a sense of comfort, considering that none of them saw Klunk’s departure coming.
“They’ve taken it rather well,” said Garrison, who enters his seventh season with the Dover program. “So that makes (my promotion) easier for me and them.”
While Klunk’s first season as coach didn’t fare well in terms of wins and losses (5-17 overall, 3-11 York-Adams Division II), there was a sense of optimism that the Eagles could contend this season. While they still might, it will be a great deal more difficult after junior and second-leading scorer Rayah Fink (11.6 points per game) tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus over the summer.
Having lost just one senior from last year’s squad — Morgan Beichner (3.4) — the duo of Rayah and her sophomore sister Rajah Fink (12.7) figured to form one of the most dynamic tandems in the division.
“I think we’re going to be very competitive this year,” Garrison said. “I have a couple of freshmen that are pushing the varsity players. I think we’re still going to, hopefully, surprise a few teams this season.”
Garrison is hoping to return the team to the successful path that Lokhaiser’s squads traveled in his final two seasons, when the Eagles garnered back-to-back PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal appearances. While those teams featured the all-time leading scorer in girls’ basketball history at Dover (Alayah Hall), they did so mainly behind a very stingy defense that turned opponents' miscues into easy points.
“We don’t have much size, but hopefully we’ll be able to do some pressing,” Garrison said. “Try to turn some teams over. Do a little more than we did last year, when we played a lot of half-court. I’m figuring on trying to press, get some turnovers and get some easy baskets.”
Here's a look at the York-area teams in the York-Adams League:
Dallastown (18-7 overall, 10-2 Division I): With the loss of three-quarters of their scoring from last year graduated, the defending Division I champs will have to find points elsewhere. Sabrina Stough, Natalie Gettle and Samantha Smith, who combined for nearly 10 points a game a season ago, will be looked upon to help shoulder the load offensively.
Red Lion (17-10 overall, 9-3 Division I): The Lions figure to be the favorites in the division with nearly their entire team returning from a season ago. Courtney Dimoff (14.9 points per game) and Amy Maciejewski (10.0) are back from a team that limited opponents to just 39.2 points a contest last year.
Central York (18-6 overall, 9-3 Division I): The Panthers lost leading scorer Kelsey Wisner (14.0) to graduation from last year's club that qualified for the York-Adams League playoffs. Nikson Valencik, just a sophomore, and Emma Saxton, a junior, combined for 18.5 points a game last year.
South Western (8-13 overall, 3-9 Division I): The Mustangs will have leading scorer Jacey Shipley (13.0) back in the fold. The loss of second- and third-leading scorers Kayleigh Thomas (11.8) and Lauren Schmidt (8.5) means there will be opportunities for some of the team’s younger players.
York High (7-15 overall, 3-9 Division I): Chyna Steele, the league's third-leading scorer at 19.8 points a contest, returns for a Bearcat team that is hoping to improve this season.
Spring Grove (2-20 overall, 0-12 Division I): The Rockets finished with just two wins last year, so things can really only go up from there. They'll have to replace the offense by leading scorer Ashley Caster (9.5) from a season ago.
West York (29-2 overall, 14-0 Division II): The Bulldogs dominated the league a season ago behind the dynamic duo of 1,000-point scorers Emily Wood (15.6) and Kari Lankford (15.1). Along with another recent graduate, Sela Fuhrman (7.4), the Bulldogs advanced to the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals. Seniors Elle Stine (3.7), Olivia Sollberger (5.4), Katie Tallman (4.0) and Morgan Bamberger (3.7) will look to lead a West York squad that could also see some new faces promoted from a strong JV squad from a season ago.
York Suburban (18-9 overall, 11-3 Division II): The Trojans moved all the way up to second in the division standings a season ago behind a tough defense (38.0 points per game). Scoring, however, will once again be a challenge, considering leading scorer Claudia Mingora (14.1) graduated, as did Kelsey Plonk (8.3). Seniors Molly Day (8.6) and Olivia Gettle (5.8) return.
Northeastern (17-11 overall, 10-7 Division II): The Bobcats will have to adjust to a new coach (Gary Sutton) as well as the graduation of Payton Hauck (12.8), who now plays for NCAA Division I Boston University, and point guard Ashley Meyer (7.6). Fortunately Sutton will have a solid duo to build around in Jordyn Kloster (16.1) and guard Kendra Meyer (5.6). Sutton is veteran coach who once won a state title with the Columbia boys' program.
Susquehannock (11-11 overall, 8-6 Division II): The Warriors look to get back to where they were just two years ago when they shared the Division II title with Dover. After a rebuild last year, Susquehannock figures to be a contender again behind senior Ashley Stone (12.0) and Tyler Williams (10.3).
Eastern York (9-13 overall, 7-7 Division II): The Golden Knights will have some rebuilding to do after losing the trio of Leah Myers (15.7), Haley Nalls (11.0) and Ashley Dietz (4.5.). A young squad figures to be led by another Myers, sophomore Hannah Myers (6.6).
Kennard-Dale (4-18 overall, 1-13 Division II): After suffering through some tough times last year, the Rams figure to be on the upward tick with a couple of double-digit scorers returning. Seniors Sara Pilkey (10.3) and Emily Freese (10.1) are back after scoring more than 60 percent of the team's points a season ago.
York Catholic (24-5 overall, 11-1 Division III): In the midst of a 10-year reign atop the District 3-AA perch, the Irish will face a challenge to their program’s strength this season. Leading scorer Marissa Ressler (10.8), center/forward Hannah Laslo (10.4) and play-maker Anne Lehr (7.1) have all moved on from the program. Fortunately for Coach Kevin Bankos, sophomore Kate Bauhof (10.7) returns, but she’ll need plenty of help if she hopes to lead her team to an 11th consecutive district title.
Hanover (10-12 overall, 6-6 Division III): The Nighthawks figured to probably be one of the main contenders for the Division III title this season. But Soukaina Tracy (20.3) will miss most of, if not all, of her senior season after suffering a knee injury. That will mean that juniors Lexi Daley (5.4) and Emma Bell (5.1) will be looked upon to shoulder a great deal of the scoring load.
Delone Catholic (21-7 overall, 11-1 Division III): Delone will have a big hole to fill after the graduation of Class AA all-state first teamer Maddie Comly. The 5-foot, 7-inch senior poured in 22.8 points per game to lead the York-Adams League. Allyson Shipley (9.6 ppg) and Jill Novak (7.7) will try to fill that void.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.