The Red Lion girls’ basketball team is back in a game that is rather familiar to the program, but is brand new to its current roster.
The Lions utilized a tried-and-true playoff formula — solid defense and timely performances from its stars — to capture a 47-39 victory against Delone Catholic on Wednesday night at Dallastown High School.
“This time of year, they’re all going to be tough,” Red Lion coach Don Dimoff said of the Squirettes. “They’re a tough team, they played physically hard, they’re used to winning, they’re a great program.”
Red Lion returns to the York-Adams League tournament title game, where it will face Central York at 7 Friday night at York College’s Grumbacher Center. Central advanced with a 50-41 win against Susquehannock in the night’s first semifinal at Dallastown.
“I think that’s kind of what everyone expected,” Dimoff said of the championship match-up. “None of this group has ever played there, so it’s a great bonus for the end of the year for them. Both teams feel they’re the better team, and Friday night we’ll see what’s happening.”
Courtney Dimoff led all scorers with 19 points, and it was her push in the third quarter which helped put away the Squirettes.
Back-to-back buckets by Delone to start the third quarter evened the score at 21-21. Dimoff answered by finding a cutting Kami Harvey for a bucket, later answered by the Squirettes.
Dimoff nailed a 3-pointer on the Lions' next possession, before twice assisting on a pair of unanswered Taylor Funke jumpers to push Red Lion’s lead to 30-23.
Dimoff closed the quarter with two more baskets to give the Lions a 34-25 lead after three quarters. She finished the third with seven points and three key assists.
Harvey scored four points on the night, but it was her stable play in the paint that helped the Lions secure the victory. Harvey finished with eight rebounds and a stout seven blocked shots. With the Squirettes seemingly focusing their offense on driving to the basket, her defensive presence was crucial. She also influenced the trajectory of many other Squirette missed shots.
“She’s been throwing a couple block parties,” Courtney Dimoff said. “We’ve been really thankful for her. If we get beat, a lot of times she’s there to make the stop and I can’t give her enough credit for that.”
Four points each from Elise Knobloch and Ally Shipley during a 10-5 run that lasted most of the second quarter helped Delone Catholic trim Red Lion’s lead down to 18-17 late in the first half. However, it was Dimoff who would come up big on Red Lion’s final possession of the first half, nailing a corner 3-pointer to give the Lions a 21-17 edge at the break.
“I thought we had a chance to put space between us in the second quarter,” Don Dimoff said. “But give them credit, they played extremely hard and stayed in the game by out-working us and staying physical.”
Delone was led by 15 points from Knobloch, while Shipley added 12 more for the Squirettes.
Natalie Reba scored seven first-half points for Red Lion on her way to nine points for the night.
The Panthers and Lions split their regular-season series, with each team taking a victory on its home floor. Central York claimed the more recent victory, a 43-36 decision on Feb. 3.
Red Lion’s last appearance in the York-Adams title game resulted in a victory over York Catholic in 2012. The Lions will be in search of their 11th tournament title The Panthers' lone crown came in their last appearance in the title game, that coming in 1999.
For the Squirettes, the season continues with a District 3-AA first-round match-up against Linden Hall on Friday, Feb. 19, in McSherrystown. Delone Catholic will be the fourth seed and Linden Hall the fifth.
“It was a good challenge for us, and I would love to have some minutes back in the middle of that third quarter,” Delone Catholic coach Gerry Eckenrode said. “We had some opportunities to score, and I thought we played hard and had a good game plan.”
Tickets: Tickets for the title game will be on sale at the Red Lion High School office from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m. until noon Friday.
Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.