York County basketball official Kevin Lawrence wears a microphone to show what it's like to be a youth official. York Dispatch
In sports, there's almost nothing worse than losing.
Sometimes, however, a well-timed setback can actually pay off down the road.
Enter the West York girls’ basketball team.
After falling flat in the first round of the York-Adams League playoffs two weekends ago, the Bulldogs took full advantage of the extra time off after their 37-24 defeat at the hands of eventual league champion Dallastown.
West York used the extra practice time to get ready for the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs.
Those 10 extra days may not have been wanted, but they definitely paid off Tuesday evening when the Bulldogs hosted Northern York. After scoring just 50 combined points in back-to-back games against Kennard-Dale and Dallastown, the West York offense looked every bit like the outfit that earned a share of the Y-A Division II title.
Playing faster and more cohesively, the Bulldogs dominated the Mid-Penn Colonial co-champs from start to finish. Led by a defense that forced 25 turnovers and a big game from senior Alayna Harris (14 points), the Bulldogs cruised to an impressive 58-30 triumph.
No. 3 seed West York (20-4) not only earned the right to host a quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 6 Lower Dauphin (15-6), but the Bulldogs also clinched a PIAA state berth in the process.
West York's win was just part of a dominating effort by the 5-A programs from the Y-A League in first-round district action Tuesday. The local teams went 4-0 with an average margin of victory of nearly 23 points.
“Our teamwork was solid tonight,” Harris said of West York's win. “The better that we move the ball around and the better that we play together, the better the result. I felt that the last two games we played (against K-D and Dallastown) that we kind of played more on our own.”
Bulldogs start fast: West York raced out to an early 7-0 advantage by finding open players who could drive to the hoop. The first four fouls called against the Polar Bears (14-9) each resulted in two foul attempts.
That mentality set the tone for the rest of the night. The Bulldogs were playing at a much quicker pace than Northern was prepared for. The Polar Bears tried to slow things down by playing a 3-2 zone defensively, but the West York ball movement was able to find holes for open shots. The visitors continued to play zone even as the deficit stretched into double digits, which surprised West York coach James Kunkle a bit.
“We had like 10 films on them and they were playing man in all of them,” Kunkle said. “And then they come out and play a 3-2 zone and I was pleased that my team adjusted very well to it.”
After back-to-back poor offensive performances that left Kunkle shaking his head in frustration, Tuesday's scoring effort put a smile back on the coach's face.
“Yeah,” he said. “They played well.”
Extra practice helps: Kunkle, who is one of the most competitive coaches in the Y-A League, certainly wasn’t pleased after falling to the Wildcats in the playoffs. Still, the silver lining of getting the extra practice wasn’t entirely a bad things in the grand scheme of things.
“If we were going to lose, I’d rather it be in counties than districts,” he said. “And it gave us time to give the girls some time off to regroup. We had a senior dinner last Monday with the four seniors I have and we talked, not just about the rest of the season, but after high school. I think that kind of helped them take their minds off (the loss to Dallastown) and then we got right back at it last Tuesday.”
Harris noticed the difference in practice.
“The coaches really made us push each other to become better players,” she said. “And I think that we were able to apply that (tonight).”
Home cooking helps: Playing on their home court was definitely a good thing for the Bulldogs, who played on the road in their last two contests. In front of a student section that cheered them on all night, the West York girls seemed ... well, at home.
“Yeah, it was really fun,” Harris said of playing at home. “We’re so used to this court. And we finished the season on the road, so to come back here and play was really nice.”
Tough foe looms: The Bulldogs will get another chance to play in front of the hometown fans Friday against the Falcons, who defeated Manheim Central, 42-35, Tuesday.
With a state playoff berth already in tow, Harris feels that her team is hungry to make a long postseason run. She knows, however, that a 28-point victory is highly unlikely against a team such as L-D, which finished second behind No. 1 seed Mechanicsburg in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division.
“I think we’re going to have to play a little bit better (Friday),” she said. “We know that Lower Dauphin is really good.”
Other Y-A girls' teams also shine in 5-A action: In addition to West York, the Y-A League got 5-A district wins from No. 2 seed Gettysburg, No. 5 seed Spring Grove and No. 7 seed York Suburban to advance to Friday's district quarterfinals and also sew up state berths.
Gettysburg (23-3) punched its ticket with a 53-26 pounding over No. 15 seed Hershey (10-13). The Warriors led 17-6 after one quarter and were in control throughout. Anne Bair led the Warriors with 12 points and six assists. Cheyenne Proctor added 10 points for Gettysburg. The win avenged Gettysburg's 44-34 loss to Hershey on Dec. 28. The Warriors have lost just once since that game, falling to Dallastown in the Y-A League playoff title game.
Spring Grove (17-6) advanced with a 50-38 victory over No. 12 seed Shippensburg (13-11). The Rockets trailed 16-13 after one quarter, but used a 15-6 second-quarter surge to take a 28-22 halftime lead. They never trailed in the second half. Ella Kale (21 points) and Addyson Wagman (14) propelled the Rockets.
And York Suburban (16-7) cruised to a 45-21 beating of No. 10 seed Elizabethtown (13-10). Suburban jumped out to an 18-9 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Coach Jess Barley picked up her 100th career victory. Alyssa Hocker's 16 points powered the Trojans.
Suburban and Gettysburg are now headed for their third meeting of the season. The Trojans will visit Gettysburg in the quarterfinals. The Warriors already own two victories over their Y-A Division II rival.
Spring Grove, meanwhile, will have travel to No. 4 seed Twin Valley (19-6) for its Friday quarterfinal. Twin Valley beat No. 13 seed Greencastle-Antrim (15-8) in its district opener, 46-19.
Fleetwood 51, Kennard-Dale 36: At Fleetwood, the Rams saw their season end with a District 3 Class 4-A setback. No. 9 seed K-D finished at 12-11. No. 8 seed Fleetwood is 14-9. Jaedyn McKeon had 19 points to lead the Rams, while Lexie Kopko added 12 points.
Pequea Valley 61, Hanover 32: At Pequea Valley, Hanover's season ended with a District 3 Class 3-A first-round loss. No. 6 seed Hanover finished at 11-12. No. 3 seed PV improved to 21-6. Jaycie Miller's eight points led Hanover.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.