MONDAY BOYS' BASKETBALL: Davante Dennis leads Red Lion to 3-0 start to 2021 season

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Red Lion earned a 53-36 boys' basketball win over Northeastern on Monday night.
  • Davante Dennis led the Lions with 18 points. Red Lion is now 3-0.
  • AJ Virata chipped in 12 points for Red Lion. Masen Urey added 11 points.

It took Davante Dennis almost the entire first quarter to score his first two points, but when he did, everybody in the gym knew it.

Dennis, also a standout for Red Lion High School’s football team, intercepted a Northeastern pass and took off down the court. He slowed down to set his feet and then assaulted the rim with a vicious right-handed slam dunk that excited the few Lions’ fans in attendance and forced the Bobcats to call timeout.

The dunk extended the Lions’ early lead, but its impact on the team was much more than just the 2-point increase to their advantage. The slam energized Dennis and his teammates, who cruised to a 53-36 victory over Northeastern and a 3-0 start to the 2021 season.

Davante Dennis

“It just lights me up inside,” Dennis said. “I feel like I can just go anywhere then and take any shot and make it. For the team, they say anytime I dunk the ball it makes them play defense harder and we just start rolling from there.”

Dennis finished with 18 points to lead both teams, but he wasn’t without help from his squad. Senior guard AJ Virata chipped in 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers and junior Masen Urey added 11 points, including a pair of big-time dunks of his own that excited the Lions and their fans.

Red Lion's Davante Dennis, seen here in a file photo, scored 18 points on Monday in a win over Northeastern.

With help from a pair of teammates to carry the scoring responsibilities, Dennis was able to save energy to make explosive plays on defense — like the steal that led to his slam dunk and a pair of blocked shots.

“It builds confidence for everybody else on the court,” Dennis said of his teammates’ strong scoring nights. “So they keep taking shots when they’re open and doing their thing.”

The final score might be a little misleading to the effort Northeastern showed on Monday night. With three minutes left in the second quarter, Red Lion led 22-10, but the Bobcats closed the gap to four points at halftime.

Red Lion's Masen Urey dunks the ball on Monday night against Northeastern.

The Lions went on a run to open the second half, but the Bobcats cut into their advantage again. Red Lion led by just seven as the fourth quarter began, but Dennis and Virata combined for 11 points to close out the victory in convincing fashion.

Kaden Hamilton led the Bobcats with 10 points and was their lone double-digit scorer. Manny Capo added six points on a pair of 3-pointers.

After three losing seasons to begin his Lions career, Dennis has enjoyed the undefeated start to the year that began with easy wins over Solanco and Exeter. Next up is York High on Friday. The normally-strong Bearcats sit at an uncharacteristic 0-2.

Dennis said the team will enjoy the victory for one night, but once practice resumes, the focus is on the next game and keeping the win streak going.

“We’re feeling great,” Dennis said. “We’re all feeling really great. We haven’t done this in a  while, so we’re just trying to take this all in and keep it rolling after this.”

OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL

York Suburban 61, Middletown 56, OT: At Suburban, the Trojans used a 10-5 overtime edge to grab the nonleague triumph. Aidan Hughley (18), Alon Gorham (17) and Camden Brewer (15) combined for 50 of Suburban's 61 points.

Eastern York 70, Dover 67: At Dover, Micah Myers led the Golden Knights to the Y-A-II victory by scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Also for Eastern, Austin Bausman scored 13 points, while Tristan Sawmiller scored 12 points. For the Eagles, Jacob Smyser scored 19 points, while Owen Melhorn scored 17 points. 

New Oxford 73, Spring Grove 54: At New Oxford, Connor Jenkins poured in 31 points, including three 3-pointers, for the Colonials. Braden Carver added 15 points for the winners, who broke away from a 34-34 halftime tie with a 39-20 second-half edge. Diarmid Stewart scored 29 points in a losing effort. Spring Grove's Jacob McCoy added 12 points.

West York 65, Kennard-Dale 47: At West York, A.J. Williams led the Bulldogs to the Y-A D-II victory by scoring 18 points. Also for West York, Ty Nalls scored 17 points, while Landon Gibson knocked in 16 points. For the Rams, Cater Day scored 12 points, while Pierce Regland scored 10 points.

York Catholic 54, Littlestown 44: At Littlestown, Luke Forjan (18), Preston Boeckel (15) and Caden Boeckel (15) combined for 48 of York Catholic's 54 points. A strong first-half defensive effort gave York Catholic at 20-9 halftime edge.

Susquehannock 64, Gettysburg 59: At Gettysburg, Jalen Franklin pumped in 22 points to power Susquehannock to a 2-0 start on the season. Michael Staub (11), Ezra Davis (11) and Dan Benna (10) also reached double digits for the York County Warriors. Michael Hankey paced Gettysburg with 21 points. Trent Ramirez-Keller added 18 for Gettysburg.

Conestoga Valley 76, York High 66: At York, a 20-10 second-quarter run spurred Conestoga Valley to the nonleague win, dropping York High to 0-2. The Bearcats were led by Antoine Beard (18 points) and Jacquez Simmens (15 points).

Fairfield 52, York Tech 46: At Fairfield, Nik Nordberg led the Green Knights to the Y-A D-III victory by scoring 15 points. Teammate Payton Stadler knocked in 10 points. For the Spartans, Ryan Parker scored 11 points. 

Hanover 56, Biglerville 43: At Hanover, Zyaire Myers (16) and Michael Killinger (15) combined for 31 Nighthawk points. Drew Parker's 14 points paced Biglerville.

Bermudian Springs 45, Delone Catholic 32: At York Springs, Ethan Beachy's 12 points led the Eagles to the win in the defensive struggle. Camdyn Keller had 13 points for Delone.

Waynesboro 69, York Tech 29: At Waynesboro on Saturday, Abdias Hernandez had 12 points for York Tech in a losing cause.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com. This story was updated to correct Red Lion's record.