DALLASTOWN — At a big school such as Dallastown, it can be hard for an athletic team to make school history.
However, that’s just what the Wildcats girls’ basketball team is on the precipice of accomplishing this week.
Riding an 18-game winning-streak into Monday evening’s District 3 Class 6-A semifinal opposite Cedar Cliff, the Dallastown girls were aiming to become only the second team in program history to make it to a district final.
Led by a stout defense that limited the Colts to just two points over the first two quarters, the Wildcats matched the 1978 team that reached the District 3 3-A final.
The 2019 Dallastown team earned a District 3 6-A title berth by routing Cedar Cliff, 35-15.
Dallastown (24-2) can now accomplish what that 1978 team could not when the Wildcats face Cumberland Valley (21-4) for the district title at 6:15 p.m. Friday at the Santander Arena in Reading. The 1978 Wildcats fell in the district final to J.P. McCaskey, 56-50.
“To hold a team to just 15 points over four quarters is just a tremendous defensive effort,” Dallastown senior Brielle Berry said. “We have to credit our coaches for helping us to absorb all of the scouting reports that we go through and that’s what we’re good at.”
Colts had no answers: The Colts had no answers vs. the Wildcats defense. Their preferred method of dribble-drive-and-dish had troubles inside against the imposing size that forwards Aniya Matthews (6-foot-3) and Sam Miller (6-foot-1) presented. Things didn’t get much better on the perimeter. The visitors were unable to find any type of rhythm until the game was well out of hand.
“They did a nice job with their defense getting in our faces and stuff,” Cedar Cliff coach Scott Weyant said. “But we had a few missed layups, so it was kind of a combination effect. They’re long and strong and they did a nice job.”
The York-Adams League champions led 12-2 at halftime. In five postseason games spanning the district and league playoffs, Dallastown's defense is giving up an average of fewer than 23 points per game.
“Obviously our defense was huge,” Dallastown coach Jay Rexroth said. “Our kids just absorb the scouting reports really well.”
Offense took a while to get going: The Dallastown offense, however, took a while to get going. The contest was knotted at 2-2 after one period. Rexroth’s team was 0 for 7 in the first quarter from beyond the arc.
“They knew a lot of our inside sets and were able to take some of our inside stuff away,” Rexroth said. “But they gave us a bunch of clean looks. We got ones that we wanted, we just didn’t make them.”
Berry, however, hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first half to cap a 10-0 second quarter in favor of the Wildcats.
“Offensively we have got to play better,” Rexroth said. “But give them credit. They took some of our stuff away inside, but we finally found the range from outside and knocked a couple of shots down and that helps.”
Cumberland Valley up next: Now the No. 2 seed Wildcats will take the next three days to prepare for the No. 1 seed in the bracket. Usually one of the most prepared coaches in the Y-A League, Rexroth hasn’t viewed any tape on the CV girls so far.
“We have three days to prepare,” he said. “I have not watched one (second) of tape on them. Tonight (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) will be a lot of tape. It’s beautiful that we get three days to prep for them.”
Cumberland Valley won its semifinal over No. 4 seed Central Dauphin, 39-33.
Notes: With scoring at a premium Monday, it's not surprising that no Dallastown players reached double digits. Seven Dallastown players, including D’Shontae Edwards (seven points), scored at least four points. Sophie Kaecher tallied 10 points in the losing effort.
Rexroth, who had a long and successful coaching stint as the Dallastown boys’ head coach, has never been the head coach in a district title game. He was, however, an assistant back in 2014 when the Dover girls’ basketball team fell to Wilson in the 4-A title game.
Rexroth is hoping his team will be able to match one of that Dover team’s accomplishments.
“We beat Cumberland Valley in the semifinals,” Rexroth recalled. “But then we lost to Wilson, which had four Division I players, in the final.”
Most recent District 3 basketball finals have taken place at the Giant Center in Hershey. That won’t be the case Friday. The Giant Center, which will host district title games Tuesday through Thursday, is unavailable because of a Shinedown concert Friday.
No. 3 seed Cedar Cliff fell to 18-6.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.