SPRING GROVE — Troy Sowers’ favorite word appears to be “intensity.”
The Spring Grove girls’ basketball coach said it at least six times to reporters after his team’s 56-13 victory over Central York on Tuesday night.
He wants his team to play with “defensive intensity."
He wants “intense communication.”
He said Tuesday's victory was the first time the team “had all the pieces of intensity together.”
However, the love of intensity doesn’t just stop with the longtime York County basketball coach, who is in his first season in his current stint with the Rockets. He even had his point guard, Ellie Glass, using the word multiple times in her interview.
“Coach always pushes us to play the most intense defense we can play,” she said.
It’s not surprising, though, that after the Rockets beat a solid Central York squad by 43 points, that Sowers was intense about his team’s intensity.
“The score is surprising,” Sowers said. “The one thing I’m proud about is we put a high level of defensive intensity together for four quarters. … This was the first game we put crazy, intense communication together for four quarters. I’m just proud we put 32 hard, fundamental, defensive minutes together.”
Stout defense: The Rockets didn’t shoot well in the first quarter and missed their first 10 3-point attempts, but a stout, first-half press defense, combined with a nonstop, man-to-man half-court set, created 24 turnovers and led to easy buckets.
“With the defensive intensities, that will clean up some poor shooting nights,” Sowers said. “The transition offense was there tonight. I thought we got out and went. Brooklyn (Naylor) and Hylin (Sorrell) did a good job of rebounding and looking up tonight.”
Glass, who led all scorers and outscored Central by herself with 18 points, said the team’s defense “created” the offensive success that produced three double-digit scorers.
“It gives us a ton of confidence,” she said. “We knew we had to pressure the ball. We did a good job of switching and communicating with each other through their screens.”
Game recap: Sowers said getting an early lead is crucial for the Rockets (7-3, 4-1) to create tempo. Spring Grove led for every minute of the game and got out to a 17-2 lead after the first quarter.
“I think when you’re at home, a quick start is important,” he said. “I love to see the ball go in the basket first for us.”
Central’s best quarter came in the second period, when which the Panthers scored eight points to trail 32-10 at halftime.
Glass didn’t shoot well to start the game, but Sowers made sure to tell his point guard at halftime to keep shooting while also creating shots for her teammates.
“I have extreme confidence in Ellie,” he said. “She’s our team leader. … The bottom line for Ellie Glass is she wants to win, and that’s what you need in a point guard and a leader.”
Spring Grove then shut out the Panthers in the third quarter to take a 48-10 lead before continuing to dominate the fourth quarter.
Balanced offense: Five different players scored in the first quarter and seven made at least one bucket in the blowout. The Rockets have four players this season averaging eight or more points a game, and the stat sheet was representative of the team’s balance on Tuesday. Sophomore Ella Kale followed Glass’ 18 points with 12 of her own, while Haley Wagman scored 10 and Naylor chipped in seven.
Sowers, the former head boys’ basketball coach for a number of very successful York High teams, said his best squads rarely had a dominant player. Similarly, his current Spring Grove team doesn't appear to have just one go-to player.
“My most successful teams at York High, there were a lot of times we didn’t have all-stars in the division, because we would score 9-13 points, but we spread it out,” he said. “I love the way the points are spread out on this team. I think that puts pressure on other teams. You can’t just try to take away one girl. It’s a nice luxury to have. I’m proud of their unselfishness.”
Kale adds to Rockets’ offense: Before the season, Sowers said Kale would be an under-the-radar player this season.
“She worked on her individual moves in the offseason,” Sowers said. “When we get her out on the perimeter one on one, she has a variety of moves she can go to. She has a very quick first step — probably the quickest on the team.”
Central, the defending Division I champion, fell to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in D-I. Both Spring Grove and Central trail South Western (5-0) in the D-I race.
South Western 47, York High 32: At Hanover, Taylor Geiman reached the 1,000-point milestone in the Mustangs' triumph. The senior finished with 12 points, 15 rebounds, eight blocks and eight steals. The Virginia Tech recruit helped the Mustangs (10-3 overall) stay in first place in Y-A D-I at 5-0. Madi Wisensale's 20 points led South Western. York High fell to 1-11 and 0-5. Adrionna Harris had 12 points for the Bearcats, while Sabria Royal added 11.
Dallastown 40, Red Lion 25: At Dallastown, Samantha Miller pumped in 13 points to lead the Wildcats. Alleney Klunk had 10 points for Red Lion. Dallastown improved to 10-2 overall and 4-1 in Y-A D-I. Red Lion dropped to 5-7 and 2-4.
Gettysburg 58, York Suburban 35: At Suburban, the Warriors moved to 12-1 overall and 6-0 in Y-A D-II behind a 20-point effort from Cheyenne Proctor. Alyssa Hocker had 13 points for Suburban, which fell to 3-6 and 2-4.
Eastern York 53, Dover 30: At Dover, the Golden Knights won their sixth straight behind a 13-point effort from Addi Malone. Eastern improved to 7-5 overall and 3-3 in Y-A D-II. Dover dropped to 2-9 and 0-6.
Susquehannock 61, Northeastern 36: At Manchester, Jayla Galbreath’s 23-point outburst powered the Warriors, who improved to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in Y-A D-II. Kelsey Gemmill (14) and Jaden Walker (10) also hit double digits for Susquehannock. Jordyn Jennings’ 16 points paced Northeastern (3-9, 1-6).
Kennard-Dale 40, West York 31: At West York, the first-place Rams improved to 12-1 overall and 6-1 in Y-A D-II. Megan Halczuk and Jaedyn McKeon each scored 10 points to lead K-D. Alayna Harris (11) and Alainna Hopta (10) combined for 21 points for West York (4-8, 2-4).
York Catholic 50, Littlestown 22: At York, Gabby Coley (11) and Drew Kile (10) combined for 21 points to lead the Irish, who held Littlestown to 11 points over the final three quarters. The Irish improved to 8-3 overall and 5-1 in Y-A D-III. Littlestown is 5-6 and 1-4.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.