One would think, that with the game on the line, that Red Lion coach Don Dimoff would draw up a last-possession play for his daughter, Courtney.
While Coach Dimoff had other ideas, fate seemed to play a big part in the final seconds of the York-Adams League girls' basketball championship game against Central York at York College on Friday night.
Originally designed as a play for Amy Maciejewski, the Panthers forced her to give up the ball with under 10 seconds left. Maciejewski passed to Courtney Dimoff, who nearly lost the ball, in the corner. Dimoff quickly gained possession and drove into the paint, where she was fouled with 2.5 seconds left.
Trailing by a point, the league's top free throw shooter calmly knocked down a pair of attempts to put her team ahead by a point.
After a Central timeout, Dimoff intercepted a baseball-style pass in the front court. Time quickly ran out, prompting a big celebration on the court with her teammates as the Lions claimed a tightly-contested 35-34 victory.
“I honestly wasn't nervous," Dimoff said of her game-winning free throws. "That surprised me. I think everything just kind of settled in. I knew that if I sank those two foul shots that we had a really good chance of winning.”
Special moment for father and daughter: Dimoff, who leads her team in scoring at just more than 14 points per game, made a bee-line toward her dad on the sideline while her teammates swarmed the court. She jumped into her father's arms as the two finally were able to share a league title together.
For Coach Dimoff, it was his ninth league title as a coach, but the first and only one he'll enjoy with his daughter.
“She's a product of (Red Lion basketball)," Coach Dimoff said. "She's seen so many Red Lion teams win these and win districts. She's started all four years but we haven't been able to win anything. And she wanted to be able to win something. Hopefully this is just a building block for districts.”
The fact that it was Courtney Dimoff that took over in crunch time was a bit unexpected. The Red Lion leading scorer was held to just a single point through the first three periods.
But she was able to score six of her seven points over the final five minutes of action to help both her and her teammates realize a dream they've had for a long time.
“Ever since second and third grade we all wanted this," Courtney said. "And I was frustrated with myself. Usually I score more than (seven points), but for my teammates to be able to keep us in the game, I give all of the credit to them. They played awesome.”
Big night for Maciejewski:
The biggest assist to that came from Maciejewski. The junior guard finished with a team-high 15 points, which helped to compensate for the lack of points from Dimoff. She scored six of her points at the free throw line. She continually drove into the lane to draw fouls throughout the night.
It was because of her play that Coach Dimoff came up with a last-possession play for Maciejewski.
“We tried to run a bit of a decoy play with (Courtney)," he said. "We talked about if it broke down to give (Courtney) the ball and just get out of the way and let her try to make a play.”
She did just that as she drew a foul with just 2.5 seconds left on the clock.
Wisner unhappy with final call: It's not a big surprise to find out that Central York coach Scott Wisner wasn't exactly thrilled with how the final 19.4 seconds played out.
“It's extremely disappointing," he said. "I don't think that it was nearly enough of a foul to call it at that point of the game. The girls fight hard for the entire game and it gets put into the referee's hands at the end of the game.”
Close throughout: The contest itself was as close as the final score would indicate. The score was tied at 6-6 after a period, while Red Lion held a 16-14 edge at the half. The Panthers took control in the third quarter to gain a 30-27 lead heading into the final period.
Wisner's team remained either tied or ahead for most of the final stanza. Central led 32-31 with 1:27 left on the clock. But Emma Saxton, who finished with 13 points, lost possession of the ball with 54.2 seconds left to give the Lions a chance.
Dimoff hit a lay-in with 27.4 left to put the Lions temporarily ahead 33-32. But Nikson Valencik, who led all players with a game-high 16 points and 12 rebounds, drew a foul and knocked down two shots with 26.5 seconds left.
“You have to give Central a lot of credit," Coach Dimoff said. "Valencik went and knocked her (free throws) down, nothing but net.”
That set the stage for the Dimoff and the Lions to try to win it.
And on this night it was Division I champions who defeated their division rivals for the second time in three meetings this season.
“I think what you saw was two evenly-matched teams," Coach Dimoff said. "I think that if we played 10 times, we'd probably both win five.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.