The girls on the York High basketball team can't remember when the Lady Bearcats were almost on the same level as their highly-decorated boys' counterparts.
A decade or so without much success will do that.
First-year head coach Larry Corbin is hoping to change the way the girls' team is perceived both around the school and the York-Adams League. Corbin, who coached several successful seasons as the district's ninth-grade coach, is familiar with his current players and foresees some possible reinforcements in the future.
Until that time comes, though, Corbin is trying to set incremental goals for his team around sophomore standout Chyna Steele this year. After a loss Monday against Bermudian Springs dropped York High's record to 1-8 overall and 0-4 in Division III, Corbin is well aware that he has his work cut out for him.
"The numbers (on the team) are low and we've had a lot of girls transfer to other schools because of moving or what have you," said Corbin, who earned the head coaching job in May after former coach Blaine Claiborne stepped down. "It's a little frustrating to look up at the banners in the gym and see all the success we've had in the past and know that the numbers that we have coming out now are nowhere near the numbers that came out in some of those years that the banners are up there."
While Corbin hopes, or maybe even wishes, that some of those transfers would return to the program, he's grateful to have a player such as Steele to build around. As a freshman a year ago, Steele finished fourth in the league in scoring at 16.8 points a game. The 6-footer has raised her game even more this year. She's second in the league in scoring at 22.7 points a game, which trails only Spring Grove's Morgan Arden's average of 24.4 points a contest.
"Chyna is a very exciting player to watch," Corbin said. "Over the past two years, she's been drawing more and more people in the school to come out and see her."
For those who haven't caught a glimpse of Steele yet, Corbin has a rough summary of her play.
"She's tough," he said. "A lot of people will just see all the points in the paper, but what they don't know is that she's also averaging 13 or 14 rebounds a game. And she averages around six or seven blocks a game. So she does it all from the defensive end. She's tall, she's lanky and she plays it all. She matches up with the other team's center, being that she's the biggest girl that we have. She can play every position on the court."
Steele is also playing with a little bit more motivation every time she steps on the court these days. A few weeks ago her father, Danny, was shot and killed while in his car in York. While the details surrounding his death are still uncertain, his involvement in helping his daughter's development on the court will be sorely missed.
"I use that to push me harder," Chyna Steele said. "Before every game I make sure to take a moment to (recognize) my father. I know he'd be happy for me and that makes me want to do better and work harder."
Steele, however, won't be able to single-handedly carry her team to victory on most nights. That's why it's a big goal of Corbin's to get some support around his star as soon as possible.
Corbin says he's seeing that begin to slowly happen.
"The rest of the team is really starting to grow around Chyna," he said. "Not every one of them plays AAU ball like Chyna does, so they don't have that experience, but the girls are really learning off of Chyna everyday. Chyna will always get her points, but it's up to her teammates to bump up their confidence to shoot the ball, take good shots and to start to approach her level of output."
While Corbin, a York Catholic graduate who grew accustomed to winning while on that school's highly-successful boys' team, hates to lose, he's aware that help could come around next year. Corbin cited a pair of 6-foot eighth-graders who currently play on the school's ninth-grade team, as well as the hope that some of the girls who transferred out -- mainly to New Hope or York Tech -- might return to help elevate the team to greater heights.
Steele, though, is unconcerned about who she might or might not play with in the future. She feels that if her team continues to improve over the next two years that the sky is the limit. And it's clear that she's fully motivated to do everything to make that dream a reality.
"My goals for next year, or maybe the year after that, for the Lady Bearcats is to go undefeated," she said. "I'm going to work hard with (my teammates) to help them get closer to my level."
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.