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TUESDAY'S GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Spring Grove wins battle for first, Ella Kale reaches 1,000

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
Spring Grove's Ella Kale gets off a shot with pressure from  Dallastown's Bria Beverly, left, and Trishelle Guy during action at Spring Grove Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Spring Grove won 55-42. Kale scored her 1,000th career point during the game. Bill Kalina photo

SPRING GROVE — Tuesday was already shaping up to be a big night for the Spring Grove girls’ basketball team.

For one, there was the battle for first place in York-Adams Division I when the Rockets played host to rival Dallastown. Both teams entered the night with identical 6-1 marks in division play.

For another, Spring Grove standout Ella Kale needed 18 points to reach 1,000 for her standout career.

Suffice it to say that both Kale and Rockets head coach Troy Sowers were looking forward to Tuesday night.

Then around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, a new wrinkle was thrown into the mix. The Rockets would be without the services of two players for the big Division I clash.

Spring Grove's Ella Kale hugs her parents, Danielle and Matt, who holds a cut-out of his daughter, after Ella scored her 1,000th career point against Dallastown during action at Spring Grove Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

For a team that entered the season light in terms of overall experience, the absence of starter Addyson Wagman and sixth-person Lindsey Naylor certainly didn’t help.

The Spring Grove girls, however, not only pulled through, but made a statement as well.

Kale took charge in her new role as the primary ballhandler, yet still demonstrated her knack as the league’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game heading into the night. The senior led her team with 21 points, including a pull-up jumper with under four minutes left in regulation that got her to 1,000 on the dot. She helped the Rockets score a pivotal 55-42 triumph.

“It’s just amazing and unreal,” Kale said. “Everything just fell in the right place for me tonight.”

Dallastown's Bria Beverly grabs a loose ball with Spring Grove's Claire Elliott on defense during action at Spring Grove Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Spring Grove went on to win 55-42. Bill Kalina photo

While Kale was happy to reach the milestone on her home court with her parents and other family members on hand, the senior was just as thrilled to do it in a victory that put the Rockets atop the division standings all by themselves.

“It was tough knowing that Addyson and Lindsey weren’t going to be here tonight,” Kale said. “But we gathered as a team and we knew what we had to do and we got it done.”

That isn’t an understatement, according to Sowers.

“It was big,” Sowers said afterwards. “I didn’t have Addy, my starting point guard, and Lindsey, my sixth girl. We only had eight girls and we just took the approach of 'let’s work' and I’m just proud of the effort they gave.”

Much of the responsibility to score fell on Kale and, at times, the pressure to get to her personal milestone seemed rushed. The Wildcats knew that and made life difficult on Kale, normally a shooting guard, to get easier looks offensively.

“We knew that she might want to get there tonight,” Dallastown coach Jay Rexroth said. “And then we found out that Addy Wagman wasn’t going to be playing, so we figured that (Ella) was going to put it on her back and try to do a lot. And she did. She’s a great player.”

Kale was limited to seven points in the first half, but the beauty of the Spring Grove team is that it isn’t really a one-player team. Leah Kale, Ella’s younger sister, scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half, while the inside tandem of freshmen Hannah Garrison and Laila Campbell made the Wildcats pay whenever they focused too much on Ella Kale.

Sowers, who pointed out the Rockets (9-2 overall) actually started three freshmen with Natalia Dab in the lineup Tuesday, sounded both relieved and satisfied.

“That’s a team win right there,” he said. “We’ve talked about all year two jobs — play hard when you’re on the court and cheer hard when you’re on the bench. We know there will be times when everyone will be called upon to help the team. And I’m just proud because I wouldn’t have dreamed this situation with us fighting to win Division I with three freshmen starting.”

Garrison and Campbell have provided something that Sowers has eagerly been anticipating ever since he took over the head-coaching job a few years ago — size. Garrison (seven points) at 6-foot-1 and Campbell (nine points) at 6-foot even make it tougher for opponents to focus entirely on shutting down Spring Grove’s dynamic guards.

“Hannah is a legit 6-1,” Sowers said. “And she changes shots inside without fouling. And Laila is more controlled when taking it to the basket. She’s gotten stronger and more composed as the year has gone on.”

While the Rockets were shorthanded Tuesday, the Wildcats have been that way for the past six games now. D’Shantae Edwards is out for the season after suffering an ACL injury in a game against Northeastern back on Jan. 22. Edwards and her 17.8 points-per-game scoring average are sorely missed by Rexroth and his team.

“We’re still trying to figure it out as we go,” Rexroth said. “And we’re getting there. I thought that we didn’t deserve to win because of the way we played in the first half, but I thought in the second half the way we played is something that we can build on.

“In the first half we gave up almost 30 points (the Rockets led 29-17 at  intermission), and they’re a high-powered team, but we still had them in the 40s with three minutes to go. What we did in the second half, if we do that all the time and do it for four quarters we’ll be all right and our kids know that.”

Bria Beverly paced the Wildcats (7-4 overall) and tied Kale for game-high honors with 21 points, while Liv Stein finished with 13 for Dallastown.

OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Northeastern 53, South Western 50: At Hanover, the Bobcats hung on for the York-Adams Division I victory. Aleyah Starkes scored 16 points to lead the Bobcats. Also for Northeastern, Mackenzie Gross knocked in 14 points, while Jordyn Jennings scored 13 points. For the Mustangs, Grace Thomas scored 14 points, while Maddie Lehker scored 13 points. Northeastern improved to 4-4 in the division and 5-5 overall.

Delone Catholic 73, Biglerville 15: At McSherrystown, Makenna Mummert led the Squirettes to the York-Adams Division III victory by scoring 17 points. Abigael Vingsen knocked in 15 points for Delone, including three from behind the arc, while Giana Hoddinott scored 12 points. Delone improved to 8-0 in the division and 12-0 overall.

York Suburban 42, New Oxford 38: At New Oxford, the Trojans trailed 28-24 after three quarters, but rallied in the final frame to capture the York-Adams Division II victory. Janay Rissmiller led the Trojans by scoring 15 points, including four from behind the arc. Teammate Grace Hare knocked in 10 points, including three from downtown. For the Colonials, Carmen West scored 16 points, while teammate Jayla Crone knocked in 13 points. Suburban improved to 5-3 in the division and 8-3 overall.

Gettysburg 58, West York 43: At West York, the Warriors dominated the York-Adams Division II battle to move to 10-1 overall and 7-1 in the division. West York is 4-7 and 4-5. Anne Bair's 14 points paced Gettysburg, while Briana Abate added 11 and Karli Bortner chipped in 10. T’azjah Generett's 11 points led West York.

Central York 51, Dover 23: At Dover, the Panthers dominated the York-Adams Division I contest to improve to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the division. Dover is 0-10 and 0-8.

Red Lion 43, York High 13: At Red Lion, the Lions used a stellar defensive effort to go to 8-3 overall and 6-2 in York-Adams Division I. York High is 5-7 and 2-7.

Susquehannock 44, Kennard-Dale 23: At Fawn Grove, the Warriors won the York-Adams Division II contest to move to 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the division. K-D is 2-11 and 0-8.

Hanover 37, Littlestown 25: At Littlestown, the Hawkettes rolled to improve to 7-5 overall and 3-4 in York-Adams Division III. Littlestown is 1-9 and 0-7.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com. David VanO'Linda contributed to this report.