The situation at Dover High School on Tuesday night, Dec. 12, was one that might have been enough to take down most young teams.
West York (0-3 overall, 0-1 York-Adams Division II) raced out to a sizable lead. Dover, for its part, was sluggish and suffering from cold shooting during that stretch. It would have been easy for frustrations to creep in and get the better of Dover (2-1, 1-0).
This edition of the Eagles, however, while youthful, drew from its wealth of experience and composure in time for a 56-52 victory.
Dover, a squad that has only one senior starter, returned its top six players from last year’s squad that captured a D-II title. That squad also reached the District 3 tournament, with several players becoming well versed in dealing with adversity along the way.
One of those key returners was junior guard Keith Davis, whose exceptional play led the Eagles out of an early funk.
With his team down 21-11, and not pleased with what he was seeing, Dover head coach Brian Schmoyer called a timeout to encourage a change.
“Bottom line, we needed to wake up,” Schmoyer said of his reasoning for the break in play. “We were just flat, no emotion, no intensity, no enthusiasm. We play great in transition and for some reason we were rebounding and slowing it up.
“We had a talk and told them it’s time to pick it up. It’s time to get after it, time to push the tempo, time to get ball pressure and get in passing lanes. And they really pushed the tempo after that point.”
Out of the break, Davis collected an offensive rebound and scored before the Eagles made a stop and got the ball back. Davis then drilled a 3-pointer to make it 21-16 West York.
Later in the quarter, Davis jumped a passing lane to make a steal before racing to the basket for the bucket and a foul. The play energized a mostly-dormant Dover crowd before Davis sank the free throw to pull the Eagles within one at 22-21.
Twenty-one seconds later, senior Brady Bowman canned a jumper to give Dover its first lead of the game and the Eagles never looked back. Dover finished the first half on a 18-5 run that saw Davis pour in 10 of his game-high 22 points.
West York starts quick: West York put Dover on the ropes to start the game by jumping out to a quick 11-0 lead thanks to its interior play. The Eagles didn’t help themselves any by missing their first seven shots before Elijah Sutton scored Dover’s first basket with 3:55 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs’ Andrew LaManna scored six of 14 points before the Eagles could right the ship.
With the gym quieted early and all the momentum seemingly in the Bulldogs’ favor, it would have been almost natural for a young team to crumble. But these Eagles have been down similar roads before. And knowing what it takes to traverse them, they navigated their way out of trouble.
“(During Dover’s first-half run) they really showed some maturity,” Schmoyer said. “However, late in the game, we had some possessions where I thought shot selections could have been better. We could have taken care of the ball better. And that’s the kind of maturity I’m looking for. That late in the game, this team can take care of the ball and seal the deal; handle the pressure. In the end, they pulled it out.”
Bulldogs refuse to quit: For its part, West York refused to go away quietly.
Dover carried its momentum over to the second half, increasing its lead to as many as 10 points midway through the third quarter at 41-31. But the Bulldogs’ Alex McClellan wasn’t going down without a fight.
McClellan scored eight of his team-high 16 points during a 9-1 run that saw the Bulldogs pull to within 42-40 early in the final quarter.
As he did most of the night, Davis answered any good West York moments with one of his own, this time a 3-pointer to push Dover’s margin to 45-40.
Sutton finished with 13 points for Dover. Corey Wise finished with 10 points for West York.
Up next: Next up for the Eagles is a Friday night trip to Fawn Grove to take on Kennard-Dale. The Bulldogs will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Gettysburg.
York Catholic 64, York Tech 44: At Spry, D'Andre Davis pumped in 16 points and Torrey Thomas added 14 to pace the Irish. Terance Romey (13) and Khalil Reman (10) each hit double digits for Tech.
South Western 60, Spring Grove 50: At Hanover, Chase Topper pumped in 24 points to lead the Mustangs, while Derek Huff added 13. Elijah Taylor had 23 points in a losing cause, while Grant Sterner added 10.
Susquehannock 45, York Suburban 30: At Glen Rock, Jordan McMillion (15) and Hunter Sentz (13) combined for 28 points for the Warriors. Luke Babinchak (12) and Willie Batty (10) joined for 22 of Suburban's 30 points.
York High 51, New Oxford 37: At York High, Kyree Generette led the Bearcats with 16 points. Teammate Marquise McClean knocked in 11 points. For the Colonials, Deriq Brown had 12 points.
Northeastern 56, Red Lion 42: At Manchester, Antonio Rizzuto led the Bobcats with 21 points, while Fred Mulbah chipped in 17. Jamel Foster's 17 points led Red Lion.
Heritage Christian 52, Red Lion Christian 38: At Heritage Christian, Brad Sweitzer led the Swordsmen with 14 points.
Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.