Trailing by 11 late in the fourth quarter, Northeastern coach Jon Eyster deployed a strategy that has made basketball fans cringe for years.
The Bobcats turned to intentionally fouling players that they believed would miss free throws, commonly known to NBA fans as “Hack-a-Shaq,” named after NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, who was regularly fouled because of his poor ability to shoot foul shots.
Northeastern’s strategy failed Tuesday because they picked the wrong Wildcat to send to the foul line. Instead of delivering a Shaq-like performance, Dallastown senior Kobe Green performed more like another Los Angeles Lakers legend, one well known for his clutch shooting — Kobe Bryant.
Green was a perfect 4 for 4 at the free-throw line in the last three minutes and 7 for 8 in the game during his 23-point performance in Dallastown's 67-55 victory against the Bobcats.
“Kobe is clutch,” Dallastown coach Mike Grassel said. “He didn’t shoot well Friday night against West York, he was 3 for 12 (on free throws), but I will give him the ball.”
Wildcats surge in second half: Fifteen of Green’s 23 points came after halftime and were a product of improved offense from the Wildcats, who improved to 3-0 overall. Central fell fell to 2-1. It was the York-Adams Division I opener for both teams and an early-season confrontation between two teams with championship aspirations. Northeastern came into the game ranked No. 9 in the state in Class 5-A, according to one statewide ranking.
In the first half, Dallastown’s half-court offense struggled to generate points and its defense failed to create the fast-break opportunities that allow for easy points.
Down by one at halftime (24-23) after Northeastern senior Nate Wilson drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, Green said the Wildcats got together and decided they had to change their intensity on defense.
“As soon as we get our defensive intensity up, I feel like we’re a pretty good team,” Green said.
Pretty good would be an understatement for the way the Wildcats played after the break. Dallastown unleashed a 12-0 run that turned a four-point deficit into an eight-point advantage with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Dickson also excels for Wildcats: The player at the center of the Wildcats’ offense in that crucial quarter was junior Michael Dickson. The point guard beat the Bobcats’ pressure, set up his teammates and scored five of his 14 points as Dallastown outscored its opponent 20-10 in the third quarter.
The main reason for the Wildcats’ second-half success on offense, according to senior Nike McGlynn, was actually their play on the other end of the floor.
“All of our offense definitely starts with our defense,” McGlynn said. “In practice, we start picking up the intensity and start going at each other (and) it makes us come out here and we just go harder.”
Wilson shines for Bobcats: Dallastown had to pick up its defense primarily because of the hot shooting from Wilson. The senior guard had 20 points, including four 3-pointers, but was held scoreless in the third quarter when the Wildcats made their run.
Sophomore Karron Mallory and senior Andrew Brodbeck each added 10 points and a pair of 3-pointers for the Bobcats.
With three seniors and two juniors in his starting five, Grassel is confident that his team can handle any situation. No matter who’s on the foul line when the game is close, he knows they’re ready to step to the line and come through for the team, no matter what the other team thinks of their abilities.
“I trust every single one of them,” Grassel said.
OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL
York High 78, Spring Grove 36: At York, Rashim Lee's 16 points sparked a balanced York High attack. Tobee Stokes (12), Cameron Gallon (12) and Kelvin Matthews (10) also scored in double digits for the Bearcats. Spring Grove's David Smith led all scorers with 18 points.
Central York 63, Red Lion 53: At Central, Evan Eisenhart pumped in 17 points to help the Panthers improve to 3-0. Gabe Guidinger added 15 points for Central, while Taylor Wright-Rawls chipped in 10 points. A.J. Virata led Red Lion with 16 points, while Davante Dennis added 15. Mike Drew had 11 points for the Lions.
York Tech 46, Bermudian Springs 44: At Spry, Jhorielki Calorerra led the Spartans individually by scoring 11 points. Teammate Abdias Hernandez scored 10 points. For the Eagles, Connor Shaw scored 13 points, Jaylen Martinez scored 12 points and Ethan Beachy scored 10 points.
Eastern York 66, Susquehannock 51: At Wrightsville, Trevor Seitz led the home team by scoring 19 points. Teammate Micah Myers knocked in 18 points. For the Warriors, Jalen Franklin scored a game-high 21 points, while Jake Eden scored 13 points and Michael Staub scored 10 points.
Gettysburg 80, West York 69: At Gettysburg, Quadir Copeland pumped in 28 points to power Gettysburg in a high-scoring affair. The Warriors led 42-16 at halftime and then held on for the win. Charles Warren added 19 points for Gettysburg, while Zach Ketterman and Trenton Ramirez-Keller each scored 11 points. Jared Shearer scored 23 points for West York, while Ty Nalls added 13 points.
York Catholic 50, Fairfield 32: At York, freshman Luke Forjan's 22-point outburst powered the Fighting Irish. Eric Ball paced Fairfield with 11 points.
Biglerville 48, Susquehannock 27: At Biglerville, the Canners received pins from Devin Ponce (132), Blake Showers (138) and Gage Bishop (145). For the Warriors, Trent Lewis (120), Blake Romjue (152), Colby Romjue (170) and Brock Hofler (220) each picked up a pin.
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.