DOVER — Young and talented teams tend to get better over time.
Mistakes made in the past are often used as learning experiences for the future.
That is certainly the case for the Kennard-Dale girls’ basketball team.
Coming off a 7-15 campaign a season ago with a team made up of three freshmen and two sophomores, the Rams are showing signs of putting things together this year.
After upsetting a West York team last week that was expected to challenge for the York-Adams League Division II title, K-D added another impressive victory under its belt on Monday, Jan. 15, against Dover, 46-41.
Leading by 12 points after three periods, the Rams were able to withstand a furious Eagles rally and their senior standout Rajah Fink. Fink scored 16 of her game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to help her team overcome the double-digit deficit.
The visitors, however, held on. If this were last year, the result likely would have been different. This year’s K-D girls, however, showed poise under pressure late. Lexie Kopko hit a key basket to pull the Rams ahead for good with just more than three minutes left. Despite a full-court press by the Eagles throughout the fourth period, the visitors pulled away.
K-D improved to 7-4 overall, matching last year’s victory total. The Rams also improved to 4-3 in the division standings, while Dover dropped to 6-6 and 3-3.
“It’s a game of tempo,” K-D coach Bob Rudisill said. “We liked them taking their time when they had the ball. But in the fourth quarter, they were down so they really didn’t have much of a choice. Fink just put her head down and she’s tough to stop.”
Fink scored the first eight points of the final stanza to pull her team to within 37-33 with just more than five minutes left. The Rams, however, were able to withstand the pressure while hitting enough shots and free throws to pull it out.
That’s something that Rudisill believed that his young squad last year would not have been able to overcome. But with a solid cast of players that includes four girls — Megan Halczuk, Chandler Swanson, Jaedyn McKeon and Kopko — who can reach double-digits in scoring on any given night, things are much different this season.
“It’s just a world of difference,” Rudisill said. “They are all good players, but we had to play them last year because we didn’t have anyone else. And they’ve all stepped up their game.”
In addition to the experience of playing together for a full season a year ago, three of the girls — Halczuk (lacrosse) and Kopko and McKeon (softball) — played in District 3 championship games a season ago in other sports. Drawing from those experiences helped not only those three, but also their basketball teammates build something they lacked a year ago — confidence.
“Our confidence has built up a lot since last year,” said Halczuk, who led her team with 14 points. “We’re all working together well, putting up points and tonight was just awesome.”
Despite their success, there’s still a sense of "what-if" for the K-D girls. Close setbacks against York Suburban and Gettysburg prevented the squad from leaving Dover at 9-2.
The Rams will get a chance to pay back the Warriors on Wednesday, Jan. 17, in a rematch. Then just two days later, Dover travels to Fawn Grove for another rematch.
“We have a big game Wednesday against West York. too,” Dover coach Tyler Smith said. “We have to come out Wednesday and Friday ready to go.”
Starting out better will be a point of emphasis for Smith. The first-year interim coach, who took over when head coach Kevin Glover was suspended in December, was frustrated several times over the first three quarters by his team’s lack of energy.
“We tried to have the mentality of coming out hard tonight, but it just wasn’t there,” he said. “(Switching to a press) worked for a bit there in the fourth quarter, but they (K-D) started to respond well to it.”
Swanson finished with 12 points while Kopko chipped in 10 for K-D.
Dallastown 53, Manheim Twp. 50 (OT): At Dallastown, the Wildcats handed the Blue Streaks their first loss of the season in overtime. Manheim Twp. entered the game in the No. 1 spot in the District 3 Class 6-A power ratings, while Dallastown was No. 7. The Wildcats are now 8-4, while Manheim Twp. fell to 12-1. Julia Sutton led Dallastown with 14 points, while Claire Teyral added 12 and Lily Jamison chipped in 10.
Susquehannock 59, Susquehanna Township 42: In Glen Rock, a game-high 20 points from Jaden Walker helped the Warriors collect the non-league victory. Jayla Galbreath also finished in double figures for the Warriors with 14 points. Susquehannock improved to 11-1. Susquehanna Twp. fell to 3-8.
Central York 60, Eastern York 50: In Wrightsville, four players recorded double-digit scoring efforts in leading the Panthers to victory. The Central players to reach the 10-point mark were Nikson Valencik (15), Sarah Sepic (11), Allie Godrey (11) and Marley Taylor (10). Hannah Myers scored a game-high 21 points for Eastern and teammate Cass Arnold added 13. Central improved to 11-3, while Eastern fell to 6-7.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.