York County basketball official Kevin Lawrence wears a microphone to show what it's like to be a youth official. York Dispatch
For some players, the biggest games bring out their best performances.
That description certainly fits Dallastown standout Aniya Matthews.
Despite her exceptional size and talent, Matthews hasn’t been the one fueling the Wildcats on the scoresheet for much of the season.
When the Wildcats needed scoring in the York-Adams League championship game against Division II co-champ Gettysburg, however, the Temple recruit stood tall.
The 6-foot, 3-inch senior led the Wildcats with 13 points, including a big free throw with 8.4 seconds left, to help Dallastown claim its second straight Y-A title, 42-38.
"I just know there’s more going on, so you have to do some things that you don’t normally do,” Matthews said. “I was just confident in what I could do.”
Matthews, who averaged 8.5 points a game this season, also had a big game in last year’s title tilt against Spring Grove, when she led the Wildcats with 14 points.
“I knew I could do it after I had a good game last year,” she said. “So I was just focusing on (the game).”
Matthews has help: While Matthews literally stands out on the Dallastown roster, the Wildcat standout had help. Forward Bria Beverly chipped in 10 points, including a big 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half. Guard D’Shantae Edwards finished with eight points, while Olivia Stein tallied seven.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Dallastown’s victory was that the Wildcats were able to lead pretty much from start to finish. The Warriors only led one time all night (1-0) and tied it just once (29-29).
The sequence immediately after Gettysburg evened the score with 7:40 left in regulation was certainly pivotal. The Wildcats got a basket from Matthews and another from Beverly before Stein finished off a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer with 4:56 remaining.
"I knew that they were going to make a run,” Dallastown coach Jay Rexroth said. “And we just needed to be able to answer it.”
Rexroth felt the momentum shifting late in the third quarter after Gettysburg’s Camryn Felix (10 points) drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 70 seconds to pull the Warriors within two.
Then, to start the fourth quarter, Gettysburg guard Anne Bair (13 points) drew a foul and converted on a pair of free throws to draw the Warriors even.
“We just needed to get one stop,” Gettysburg coach Jeff Bair said. “And I think we panicked a little bit after they got the first one (by Matthews).”
The Division II co-champs were able to make it a one-possession contest a couple of times over the final four minutes of regulation. Each time, however, the Warriors missed a shot and Matthews was there to collect the rebound.
“We made a lot of huge plays,” Rexroth said. “And a lot of that is not coaching, but players making plays. I’d love to take credit for it, but I can’t. We just had girls that stepped up and made big play after big play.”
From third to champs: Those plays helped the Wildcats defend their league title during a season in which it seemed like that would not happen. After a third-place finish in Division I this season, there was a fair bit of skepticism about the program’s chances.
Rexroth, however, knew that things were headed in the right direction after the Wildcats dropped a 53-44 decision against Spring Grove back on Jan. 24. Since that point, Dallastown has won six of eight including five in a row.
“When we lost to Spring Grove, we still didn’t know what our story was going to be,” Rexroth said. “My thing was, winning the league title was more important than winning the division and I’m just super-proud of these guys.”
Dallastown improved to 18-7, while Gettysburg fell to 22-3.
On to district action: Both teams are now headed to District 3 action.
Gettysburg is the No. 2 seed in Class 5-A and will open district action at home against No. 15 seed Hershey (10-12) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Dallastown is the No. 9 seed in 6-A and will open district competition at No. 8 seed Ephrata (17-6) at 7 p.m. Monday.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.