DALLASTOWN — A seventh-place game normally wouldn't do much to stoke the competitive fires of high school basketball players.
Especially, when the players on the teams involved, Red Lion and Central York, had met in the York-Adams League championship game just two weeks ago.
However, the fourth meeting of the clubs this year on Thursday night provided some extra incentive — the winner would earn a spot in the state AAAA playoffs.
The Lady Lions and Panthers followed the script of the first three meetings this season in the first half, which closed with Red Lion on top, 30-25.
The fans gathered in the Dallastown High School gymnasium had every reason to believe that meeting No. 4 would be like the others, which all featured single-digit margins of victory.
Instead, Red Lion wrote a different ending this time.
The Lady Lions dominated the second half to earn a 54-36 victory in the District 3-AAAA seventh-place clash. Red Lion won the season series over its York County foe, 3-1.
Red Lion coach Don Dimoff decided to try something different in the latest meeting, and his players executed the plan to perfection.
"That's probably the first time we've played zone against them," Dimoff said. "We worked on that zone for like 20 minutes yesterday at practice, and I have to give credit to Lower Dauphin because that's the zone they used against us. We moved well, we executed well, and we jammed up the paint and made it very tough for (Central standout Emma) Saxton to get looks inside."
Meanwhile, the third-seeded Lady Lions (25-4) knocked down shots at the other end, connecting on 20 of 39 for the game (51 percent), including 6 of 9 (67 percent) in the fourth quarter. Central, meanwhile, was just 4 of 20 from the field in the second half.
Courtney Dimoff, the coach's daughter, led the winners with 21 points, 15 of which came on 3-point shots.
"In our shoot-around today, I went around the arc, a couple of times, and I kept shooting as much as I could," said Courtney Dimoff, who plans to play at Millersville University. "I can't say that's my comfort zone, but if I'm there, I'm going to shoot."
Dimoff had plenty of help offensively.
Amy Maciejewski supplied 13 points for the winners, and Kynslee Shepherd came off the bench to score nine.
"Our intensity was up the entire time from the first minute to the 32nd minute," Courtney Dimoff said. "I was really proud of everyone."
Don Dimoff admitted he was concerned about his team's mental make-up. The Lady Lions entered the contest following a last second-loss to Lower Dauphin..
"Give the kids credit," Dimoff said. "They practiced really well the last two days."
The Lady Lions will still be practicing this coming week.
"We've gone to states the last two years, and It's really great to get there the third year in a row," Courtney Dimoff said. "Especially since it's my senior year, and I get to keep playing with everybody."
Saxton led fourth-seeded Central (24-5) with 11 points, and Nikson Valencik added 10 for the Panthers. Both players will be back next year. Saxton is a junior and Valencik is a sophomore.
Red Lion will play the District 1 champion in the opening round of states on Friday, March 4.
Northern Lebanon 41, York Suburban 33: At Warwick, the Trojans fell in the District 3-AAA fifth-place game. Ali Reinecker and Molly Day each had nine points to lead Suburban. Suburban fell to 19-7. Northern Lebanon improved to 25-3. Suburban will next play the first round of the PIAA AAA playoffs on Saturday, March 5, vs. the District 11 champion.
Christian School of York 36, Harrisburg Academy 24: At East Pennsboro, the fourth-seeded Crusaders won the District 3-A third-place game over fifth-seeded Harrisburg Academy behind 13 points from Bailey Stauffer and 10 points from Kendis Butler. Both teams are now 19-8. CSY will now face the District 4 champion in a first-round state playoff game on Saturday, March 5.
Delone Catholic 54, Wyomissing 48, OT: At East Pennsboro, the Squirettes won the District 3-AA third-place game and earned a PIAA state playoff berth. Delone had a 37-29 lead after three quarters, but couldn't hold on, before regrouping in OT. Fourth-seeded Delone improved to 19-7. Second-seeded Wyomissing ended its season at 21-5. Elise Knobloch led Delone with 13 points, while Ally Shipley added 12. Delone will face the District 12 champion in a first-round state playoff game on Friday, March 4.
Spring Grove 54, Wilson 37: At Warwick, Eli Brooks poured in 24 points and Darin Gordon added 19 to lead the Rockets to a win in the District 3-AAAA third-place game. The fourth-seeded Rockets improved to 25-3, while 14th-seeded Wilson fell to 18-10. Spring Grove led 12-0 after one quarter and 30-10 at halftime. The Rockets will now face the fifth-place team from District 1 in the first-round of the PIAA Class AAAA state playoffs on Saturday, March 5.
ELCO 74, Gettysburg 66: At Manheim Township, the Warriors dropped the District 3-AAA fifth-place game. Tenth-seeded Gettysburg fell to 14-10. Fifth-seeded ELCO improved to 22-5. The Warriors had three players in double digits: Ravaughn Dillard (25), Max Lampe (18) and Marquise Camel (10). Gettysburg will now face the District 12 champion on Friday, March 4, in a first-round PIAA Class AAA playoff game.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.