RED LION — York High boys' basketball coach Troy Sowers doesn't believe in waiting until next season.
Sowers' starting lineup is the youngest in his eight-year tenure with the Bearcats. Three sophomores and two juniors make up York's first five.
The youngsters, not surprisingly, had their ups and downs this season.
Sowers, though, never lost faith that they could do what the past five York High teams did: play for the York-Adams Tournament championship.
The Bearcats rewarded their coach's confidence by defeating West York, 70-66, on Tuesday night at Red Lion High School.
The victory, York's 10th straight, avenged a regular-season loss and pushed the Bearcats into the title game.
York High will take on Central York for the championship. The game is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at York College — weather permitting.
"Sixth straight final, I don't know who does that," Sowers said. "Bermudian (York High's first-round opponent), is tough, and West York is a great team. We feel we're going to play another great team (Central). We'll have to play a 32-minute game."
The final eight minutes of Tuesday's game were the deciding ones.
York High outscored West York, 28-21, in the last quarter to secure the victory.
"We started that fourth quarter down three (45-42), but I could see a positivity in my guys' eyes," Sowers said.
Trey Shifflett delivered eight points in the closing quarter, and Jahaire Wilson had seven points.
Another Bearcat, Brandon Smallwood, delivered two of the biggest baskets of the game in that same quarter.
With York High trailing 54-52, Smallwood knocked down a 3-point shot from the right wing with 4:37 to play to put his team up by one point.
Following a West York miss, Smallwood shook a defender on the baseline, took an in-bounds pass from Stephen Dickson and scored on a layup to push the advantage to three points.
York High led the rest of the way.
Smallwood's 3-point basket was his first of the season.
"I just saw an opening, and I took the shot," the sophomore said. "I don't usually shoot the 3-point shot, but I can shoot it."
Smallwood and Wilson each finished with 13 points. Shifflett led the Bearcats with 23 points, including four 3-point baskets.'
"No one shoots more shots in the offseason than Trey," Sowers said.
Wilson, meanwhile, was a force inside. His offensive rebounding prowess led to second chances.
"Jahaire was a monster on the boards," Sowers said. "Everyone sees how hard he works. I don't think we gave up many second-chance points (to West York)."
Wilson and his teammates matured together this season.
"We built a lot more confidence," he said. "Our defense really improved. We were younger and inexperienced earlier in the season."
Wilson gave a shout out to Smallwood.
"Brandon takes a little pressure off me," he said. "I grew up playing ball with Brandon."
York High improved its record to 18-5, while West York lost for just the second time this season. The Bulldogs are 22-2 heading into the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
Kevin Rice and Noah Cable scored 13 points each for West York in Tuesday's game, and Parker Weekly came through with 11 points.
Contingency plan: If Thursday's championship game is postponed because of the expected winter storm, it will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday at York College.
If the girls' championship game is postponed on Friday, then the boys' title game will take place beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and the girls' final will begin at 8 p.m. The gymnasium will be cleared between games.
Both title games will be played at York College.
Tickets for the boys' championship game will be on sale Wednesday at York High. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for students.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.