The tight, pressure defense created plenty of turnovers. The passes were more crisp. And the shot selection improved.
Those were some of the positives York High boys' basketball coach Troy Sowers took away from Wednesday night's 78-57 victory at Central York. And it's the improvement he wanted to see since the last time the Bearcats beat Central, 76-71, back on Dec. 18.
"We watched the game film from the first time we played these guys when we gave up 71 points," Sowers said. "That's not what we do. They had a lot of open looks and we worked extensively in practice yesterday on our defense. Even in the first half it wasn't the greatest. At halftime we just went over what we wanted to do -- crazy ball pressure and sag in the paint."
Despite 19 first-half turnovers, the Panthers hung with York High (11-0 York-Adams Division I, 15-2 overall) in the opening 16 minutes, trailing 22-16 after the opening quarter and 41-34 at intermission.
Then York High created seven of Central's 32 turnovers in the third period. And the Bearcats took away the perimeter after the Panthers hit five 3-pointers in the first half. It led to York High outscoring Central 21-4 in the third period to give York High a 62-38 advantage heading into the final quarter.
York High senior guard Tavon Parker pumped in a game-high 25 points and sophomore forward Jahaire Wilson finished with 12 points. Senior guard Derek Wilson, who is normally a starter, tallied 11 points off the bench. Three other players combined for 24 points. The balanced scoring has been a work in progress, according to Sowers.
"We were a puzzle with a couple pieces and we were playing OK," Sowers said of his team's December victory over Central. "Whereas I think right now we're playing better team basketball. I think we shared the ball well. We were fundamental and were cohesive in transition. It looked like we were playing together a little bit. And that takes time."
Wednesday night marked the beginning of a seven-day stretch that includes four road games. The Bearcats next travel to second-place South Western (9-2, 12-5) on Friday.
Turnovers, starters missing: Central (7-4, 8-9) had its three-game win streak snapped with the loss.
In addition to the turnovers, the Panthers also struggled to find shots, in part because guard Darian Hampton and forward Ryan Gardner were on the bench for most of the game. Hampton was pulled after receiving a technical foul with just more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. He would not come back in the rest of the night. Gardner was limited to roughly 15 minutes of game action because of foul trouble. Hampton and Gardner entered the contest averaging a combined 15 points a game.
That left guards Sam Saxton (14 points) and Royce Clemens (10 points) to carry the scoring load for the Panthers. The duo combined for four of Central's six 3-pointers.
OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL
YORK CATHOLIC 57, HANOVER 43: At York Catholic, the home team trailed 24-17 at halftime, but outscored Hanover 40-19 in the second half to capture the victory. Joseph Rost and Adam Hack split 30 points to lead the Fighting Irish, while Aaron O'Brien added 10 points. Nick Trish had 16 points to lead Hanover, while Dylan Krieger chipped in 13. York Catholic was 15-for-19 at the foul line, while Hanover was just 3-for-9.
NEW OXFORD 53, KEN NARD-DALE 40: At Fawn Grove, the Rams did not attempt a single foul shot in a loss to the Colonials. Marc O'Brien led the winners with 21 points, while Zach Wildasin added 13. Vince Failla (14) and Ryan Trott (11) combined for 25 of K-D's 40 points. The Rams led 12-8 after one quarter, but New Oxford used a 33-13 surge over the middle two quarters to take control.
SOUTH WESTERN 63, SPRING GROVE 31: At Hanover, Mike Duffy scored 19 points, including the 1,000th point of his career, in the Mustangs' victory. Parker Bean led South Western with 20 points. Logan Hagerman had 10 points for Spring Grove. South Western improved to 12-5 overall and 9-1 in York-Adams Division I.
WEST YORK 73, DOVER 57: At Dover, Darian McCauley and Kevin Rice led the Bulldogs to the York-Adams Division II victory by each scoring 23 points. Rice connected for five 3-point field goals. Braxton Neff contributed 10 points. For the Eagles, Ryan Beck scored 17 points, including five from behind the arc, while Josh McMahon scored 15. Each team connected from downtown, with Dover hitting 10 3-pointers, while West York knocked in five.
BERMUDIAN SPRINGS 49, SUSQUEHANNOCK 46 (2OT): At Glen Rock, the Eagles trailed 25-17 at the half, but rallied in the second half to tie the game and pull out the York-Adams Division III victory in double overtime. Zach Stroup led the Eagles with 15 points, while Neil Murren scored 11. For the Warriors, Tyler Brooks scored 21 points, while Dan Ferraro scored 13. Bermudian improved to 9-2 in the division and 13-3 overall, while Susquehannock fell to 8-3 in the division and 13-5 overall.
EASTERN YORK 70, LITTLESTOWN 34: At Littlestown, Dalton Reichard and Broguen Nicholas led the Golden Knights to the York-Adams Division III victory by scoring 12 points apiece. Cody Bollinger contributed 11 points. For the Thunderbolts, Ryan Kehr scored 16 points. Eastern improved to 9-2 in the division and 13-5 overall.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.