West York’s Kari Lankford attempts a three-point shot in Tuesday’s York-Adams League semifinal. The sophomore scored a game-high 22 points in
West York's Kari Lankford attempts a three-point shot in Tuesday's York-Adams League semifinal. The sophomore scored a game-high 22 points in leading the Bulldogs over York Catholic, 59-54. (John A. Pavoncello)

By now, the West York girls' basketball team has become accustomed to it.

The Bulldogs know Sarah Shearer's season-ending knee injury nearly a month ago is in the past. They've had to replace Shearer's 13 points-a-game average in nine straight contests, a stretch in which they've gone 8-1.

Part of it is balance across the lineup. A big part, though, is attitude. Both characteristics were on display Tuesday night at Central York High School in West York's impressive 59-54 win over York Catholic in a York-Adams League Tournament semifinal contest.

Just look at the first half. West York sophomore point guard Emily Wood picked up her second foul of the game with 2 minutes, 55 seconds left in the opening quarter. She sat on the bench the rest of the half.

West York’s Jessica Noll, right, looks to shoot while being covered by York Catholic’s Morgan Klunk. Noll contributed nine points to the
West York's Jessica Noll, right, looks to shoot while being covered by York Catholic's Morgan Klunk. Noll contributed nine points to the Bulldogs' attack in their semifinal win over the Fighting Irish. Klunk led York Catholic with 20 points in the loss. (John A. Pavoncello)

Enter the Bulldogs' balance. West York seniors Heather Zinn (13 points) and Jessica Noll (nine points) and sophomore Kari Lankford (game-high 22 points) combined to score 25 of the Bulldogs' 30 first-half points to give them a 30-19 edge at intermission.

Then Noll got in foul trouble after the break, picking up her third foul 15 seconds into the third quarter. She spent most of the second half on the bench. Wood picked up the slack, scoring eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter.

"Specifically the last three or four games we've seen that a lot, where we get in foul trouble with certain players and we see other players step up and make the big plays for us," West York coach Jon Shultz said.

Though the balance has been the key to West York's success this season, Shultz said the driving force has been the fiery Lankford.

"Before the game tonight Kari will tell you that I went up to her and I said 'It's your turn tonight,'" Shultz said. "She said 'I know.' And I said 'OK.' Kari is our engine. She really is -- the way she plays defense with fire."

The shooting guard made 8-of-11 attempts from the floor and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the line. She also had the responsibility of trying to stop York Catholic (22-2) standout guard Morgan Klunk, who finished with a team-high 20 points.

Attack the basket: Shultz admires the bruises on the arms of his players. The bruises come by attacking the basket and practicing against boys throughout the year.

So, it makes sense the Bulldogs weren't afraid to attack the basket Tuesday night despite the Irish having 6-foot, 1-inch sophomore center Hannah Laslo (13 points) down low.

"We may have gotten tired at the end. But to me, it was our inability to stop their dribble penetration and stop giving up easy buckets in the beginning," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said.

West York (21-3) led the entire game. The Bulldogs held a 44-36 lead going into the fourth quarter and were later up 50-40 with 4:53 remaining. York Catholic then used a 9-2 run to pull to within 52-49 with 2:17 left. But West York capitalized on a York Catholic turnover and pair of missed shots to build an eight-point lead with under a minute to play.

Championship game: The Bulldogs move to the York-Adams League championship game Thursday night at York College, where they'll face Dallastown (18-6) at 7 p.m. West York won the league's Division I title this season by a game over Dallastown. The teams split their two head-to-head meetings earlier this season.

"With us winning the division it kind of just adds on top of (Dallastown's) eagerness to win the county," Shultz said. "And also they haven't been in it in a long time, either. I think they're gonna come in hungry."

West York will be aiming for the program's first league tournament title since 2009. Dallastown last won the tournament in 2000.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.