DOVER — There's little doubt that the 2017-18 girls’ basketball season has already been quite a chore for the Dover Eagles.
That is discounting the effect of a brutal York-Adams League Division II regular-season schedule and a season-ending injury to one of the squad’s top players.
A coaching change at the varsity level in December and the subsequent investigation into the squad’s junior varsity coach for alleged inappropriate contact with a player would certainly be a lot for any team to persevere through. Only a strong squad with resilient players could overcome those obstacles.
Dover is turning out to be that kind of resilient team.
The Eagles entered their contest with York Suburban on Wednesday, Jan. 24, in the thick of the race in perhaps the toughest division throughout all of District 3.
Arguably the biggest reason that Dover has been able to succeed, despite the obstacles, is the play of senior standout Rajah Fink. The Y-A League’s leading scorer at just under 26 points per game, Fink again helped will her team to victory. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania recruit scored a game-high 27 points to help the Eagles rally from a halftime deficit to earn an important 47-37 triumph.
Dover moved into sole possession of second place in the division at 7-3. The Eagles improved to 10-7 overall, while the Trojans dropped to 11-6 and 6-4.
“It’s really a team thing,” Dover interim head coach Tyler Smith said. “Yeah, I’d say that we really feed off (Rajah), but I think that a lot of the other girls stepped up tonight too.”
Ashley Goebeler chipped in 10 points as the Eagles erased a 14-13 deficit at the half by outscoring Suburban 34-23 in the second half.
“Rajah has played really well,” Smith said. “But Ashley has been stepping up for us. We just really have to keep talking and communicating out there on the court.”
Fink scored 19 of her points after intermission, including 10 in a pivotal third period in which the Eagles outscored Suburban 17-8.
While the season was already quite a grind, given the drama surrounding the coaching change as well as the loss of Alaina Reaver to an ACL injury, this week won’t get much easier. After defeating a tough Gettysburg squad Tuesday, Jan. 23, and then Suburban Wednesday, Smith and his club will have one day to prepare before taking on defending Division II and District 3 Class 5-A champion Susquehannock on Friday, Jan. 26.
Smith, who in his first year at Dover has seen himself elevated from an unpaid assistant to a paid interim head coach, appears to be pushing all of the right buttons a month after stepping into the head-coaching role. The Eagles have won their past four D-II games since falling to Kennard-Dale last week.
Making it five in a row will move the club into a tie with the Warriors in the standings for first.
“We talked about it at the start of the week that this week will be a ladder,” Smith said. “There was the first game last night (Tuesday), which was step one. Step two was tonight (Wednesday) and step three is Friday when we get Susquehannock.”
Katherine Mooney led Suburban with 10 points.
Kennard-Dale 73, Pequea Valley 63: At Fawn Grove, Chandler Swanson scored 20 points to lead K-D. Lexie Kopko and Megan Halczuk each added 12 for the Rams (9-6 overall).
Red Lion 35, Shippensburg 23: At Red Lion, the Lions' defense did not allow more than eight points in any quarter. Kayla Johnson poured in 18 of the Lions' 35 points.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was updated to correct the team's division records.