With a packed gym, the game being broadcast on local television and the top spot in York-Adams Division I on the line, Red Lion coach Don Dimoff didn’t know what to expect from his players in their first taste of a true showdown contest.
The Lions’ coach has seen his share of big games in a career that recently eclipsed 500 victories, but his rotation, featuring five juniors and a sophomore, didn’t have that same advantage heading into the battle with rival Dallastown.
The young players responded better than their coach imagined and Red Lion (11-1, 6-0) beat Dallastown (8-3, 4-1), 46-32.
“These kids have not experienced this a whole lot — a big crowd and a good student section — they came out and they played like they always play,” Dimoff said. “I wasn’t sure how they were going to react to that because this is kind of new for them. They reacted very, very well.”
Shaw continues to score: One player in particular that impressed was junior Makiah Shaw. The 6-foot forward was unstoppable in the win and poured in a game-high 21 points.
Shaw really impressed from beyond the arc with four 3-pointers. The Wildcats’ game plan was to start the game playing zone defense to force the Lions to shoot from the perimeter, but it failed miserably.
The junior started the game with a pair of 3-pointers that got the Lions out to an early lead. She didn’t enter the game looking to shoot, but once the chance was there, she didn’t hesitate to take it.
“I just was open and was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just shoot it,’” Shaw said. “And to my luck it went in.”
Wildcats’ scoring woes: On this night, it seemed like everything went in for Shaw and the Lions. On the other side of the court, it was a completely different story.
Dallastown got good looks, but couldn’t get anything to fall. Red Lion led, 8-2, after the first quarter and 19-6 at halftime. Shaw outscored the entire Wildcats team in the first half and Dallastown coach Jay Rexroth acknowledged that against any team, let alone the Lions, that offensive output wouldn’t be enough to win.
“You score six points in a half (and) you’re not going to play with anybody,” Rexroth said.
One of the reasons the Wildcats struggled to put points on the board was the Lions’ defense on Dallastown senior Aniya Matthews. The 6-foot, 3-inch NCAA Division I Temple University-bound center was held to five points in the contest. Dimoff credited the defense of Shaw and junior forward Julia Beiler for making things difficult for Matthews.
“We tried to make her take tougher shots,” Dimoff said. “She’s such a tall kid that it’s tough to do that, but I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job.”
Ready for the challenge: While he wasn’t ready to say that his team is guaranteed a division title by any means, Dimoff was proud of the way his team showed up in a big game. The pressure of the moment wasn’t too big for them, and if this contest was any sign of what’s to come this season, Dimoff will take his team against any opponent.
‘“I think if we play the way were capable of playing, we can play with anybody,” Dimoff said.
Berks Catholic 50, York Catholic 47 (OT): At Reading, the Saints won the nonleague battle of parochial programs. Berks Catholic improved to 7-2, while York Catholic dropped to 5-7. York Catholic led 24-17 at halftime, but couldn't hold on. Gabby Coley (12 points), Drew Kile (11 points) and Sam Bulik (10 points) paced York Catholic.
Northeastern 48, Annville-Cleona 27: At Annville, the Bobcats earned the nonleague triumph to improve to 5-6 overall. AC fell to 1-12. Jordan Jennings and Mackenzie Spickler had 10 points each for the Bobcats.
Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.