YORK, PA - Kristen Daly’s (Harrisburg, Pa./Trinity) 24 points and 11 rebounds propelled the York College women’s basketball team to a 77-58 win over Oneonta State in the semifinal round of the 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic presented by Best Western. The victory catapults the Spartans into the championship game against Elizabethtown Saturday at 4:00 pm. York’s record now stands at 8-3 for the season while Oneonta drops to 2-4.
Freshman guard April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) opened up the game’s scoring 36 seconds into the contest. A wide-open Sparkman accepted a crisp pass from Spartan point guard Keli Ward (Nottingham, Pa./Oxford) and promptly drained a three from the wing to give the green and white the early 3-0 advantage. After a brief Oneonta stint that saw York fall behind 7-4, the Spartans retook the lead at 8-7 as Daly grabbed one of her four offensive rebounds and laid in her first points of the game. York would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the contest.
The Spartans’ extended their lead to 18-11 with ten minutes to go in the period on a Gina Casadei (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) lay up. Just over one minute later junior forward Amy Fry (Carlisle, Pa./Big Spring) canned a jumper in the lane pushing the lead to nine at 20-11.
York’s largest lead came at the 4:58 mark after Sparkman nailed a pair of free throws. Now up 27-16, the Spartans looked as if they would begin to pull away. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Red Dragons cut deep into York’s advantage over the last five minutes. In the final 4:50, the Spartans shot a paltry 1-5 from the floor and gave up three turnovers. Combined with Oneonta’s suddenly hot shooting, including 6-of-8 from the floor and 2-of-3 from distance, York was only able to manage a 33-30 lead going into the halftime break.
Opening up the second frame, Daly and Sparkman registered back-to-back buckets, including a three from the freshman, to increase York’s once double-digit lead up to eight. Throughout the majority of the half’s first six minutes, the sides traded baskets before the green and white held a ten point advantage with 14:12 remaining in the game.
The pattern of trading scores continued as each time the Spartans would increase their lead, Oneonta would come right back staying just within striking distance. With 8:03 left, a Sparkman lay up brought the Spartan advantage to eleven at 57-46, but once again the Red Dragons came right back as Rebecca Bucci cashed in a triple to drop the lead back to eight.
Oneonta’s Christi Podgorski, who was a thorn in York’s side all night, whittled the Spartans’ lead to six with a traditional three-point play with 4:46 left. That would be as close as the Red Dragons’ would get.
Owning a six-point advantage at 62-56, the green and white went on an extended 15-2 run to close out the game. Ward catapulted the late Spartan surge by answering Podgorski’s scores with a three-point play of her own and then dishing out four assists over the game’s final 4:10.
For the contest, the Spartans shot a lackluster 38.8% from the field including 28.6% in the first half. Struggling mightily from beyond the arc, York only managed to hit 3-of-14 from deep. The difference in the game was made both at the foul line and on the glass. The Spartans shot a brilliant 75.9% from the free throw stripe going 22-for-29 over the 40 minutes. Grabbing 43 boards, York out-rebounded Oneonta by ten holding a massive 18-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Daly’s fourth double-double of the season paced the Spartans in both scoring and rebounding as she also chipped in a pair of assists and one steal in 38 minutes of action. The senior forward shot a blistering 10-for-19 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. Sparkman was the other Spartan to tally in double digits notching 17 points and pulling down six boards to go along with three steals. The always steady Ward filled up the stat sheet with nine points, ten assists, four rebounds, and three steals in her 33 minutes. Amanda Andrews (Fallston, Md./Fallston) and Chanel Perez (Biglerville, Pa./Gettysburg) each added eight points respectively.
The Red Dragon’s shot a strong 45.3% from the floor and nailed 4-of-7 from three-point land. However, the visitors committed 22 turnovers, which the Spartans turned into 29 points, and shot a mere 6-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Podgorski led her squad with 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in just 18 minutes. Junior forward Casey Snyder dropped in eight points while Amanda McDowell and Shannon Weir tallied seven points apiece.
York advances to Saturday’s Coaches vs. Cancer Classic championship at 4:00 pm against Elizabethtown, which were 75-63 winners over McDaniel. Oneonta State plays the Green Terror at 12:00 pm in the consolation contest.
Kristen Daly photo courtesy of Eric Linsley