York senior Hailee Pohl heads to the basket during first-half action

After collecting a steal near midcourt, York senior Hailee Pohl heads to the basket during first-half action against Ralston Thursday night at York High School.

YORK — With every starter from last year’s state-qualifying York Dukes girls basketball team gone and graduated, only three letterwinners return for the 2018-2019 season.

That meant new faces would be stepping into bigger roles Thursday night in the season opener against the Ralston Rams inside the Duke Dome.

Those new faces did their job.

York’s full-court pressure and half-court defense more than shouldered the load for an offense that may take time to find a rhythm early in the season. The Dukes beat the Rams 52-14, and it was a good way to start the year.

“Our pressure bothered them,” York head coach Matt Kern said. “This group plays so hard and the effort is there, no doubt about it.”

After nearly four minutes of scoreless basketball to start, York junior Natalia Dick hauled in an offensive rebound and got the putback layup to fall. Dick was a force in the lane for the Dukes Thursday night. All of her 16 points in the game, except a buzzer-beating 3 at the top of the key before halftime and one free-throw make, came underneath the hoop.

“She’s so physical and we need her defensively and offensively to set the tone,” Kern said of Dick. “She had some nice shots and they’ll fall more and more as the year goes on. She had some great passes, too. She’s an unselfish player.”

York’s full-court pressure wreaked havoc in the backcourt for the Rams, who struggled to handle the pressure. Senior guard Hailee Pohl and sophomore Maddie Portwine collected multiple steals that lead to open layups.

York led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter and 23-5 at halftime. Pohl finished the night with 13 points and hit three triples. Portwine ended with 10 points to go with a handful of assists.

The trio of Dick, Pohl and Portwine did most of the damage to the Rams. Dick recorded 10 first-half points while Pohl had five and Portwine two. Freshman Masa Scheierman had three.

At 5-foot-10, Portwine’s length continued to hurt the Ram ball handlers to start the second half. She collected a steal and was able to convert a layup while taking contact at the 6:30 mark of the third. Then on the ensuing inbounds pass, York’s pressure forced another Ralston turnover that turned into a Lindsey Stuckey layup.

Pohl connected on her third 3 of the game soon after that to give York a 32-8 advantage, and the Dukes put on the cruise control from there.

Kern mentioned his team showed good discipline on the court and didn’t allow much, if any, tradition layups.

“This is a group that’s going to get better every single game,” Kern said. “Playing with each other more and having the opportunity to compete together is huge because you’ll see improvement every time we step on the court. We were better tonight than we were in the jamboree.”

York will host Columbus Dec. 4.

Ralston (0-1) 3 2 5 4 — 14

At York (1-0) 10 13 13 16 — 52

York scoring: Natalia Dick 16, Hailee Pohl 13, Maddie Portwine 10, Masa Scheierman 8, Mattie Pohl 3, Lindsey Stuckey 2.

Ralston (0-1).................3    2    5    4 — 14

At York (1-0).........10    13    13    16 — 52

York scoring: Natalia Dick 16, Hailee Pohl 13, Maddie Portwine 10, Masa Scheierman 8, Mattie Pohl 3, Lindsey Stuckey 2.

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