West York put on a defensive clinic in the first 3 1/2 minutes of Tuesday night's District 3-AAA basketball playoff opener against Milton Hershey.
The Bulldogs got in the passing lanes, forced four turnovers and converted one layup after another in bolting to a 19-6 lead at the 4:34 mark of the opening quarter.
It appeared that West York's path to the district quarterfinals would be a fairly smooth one.
That appearance proved highly deceiving.
Milton Hershey adjusted, found its offense and turned the game into a shootout.
The Bulldogs, though, never lost the upper hand and turned back the Spartans' challenge to earn an 87-83 victory.
West York, 23-2, will take on Manheim Central, 22-3, at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Four Bulldogs reached double figures against Milton Hershey. Darian McCauley led the way with 19 points. He was followed by Kevin Rice (18), Josh Bailey (14) and Noah Cable (13). McCauley, who returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing four games for a violation of team rules, also pulled down eight rebounds.
"He (McCauley) was huge," West York head coach Bill Ackerman said. "He averages a double-double for us. He makes us look better because of the way he cleans up around the basket. Tonight, it wasn't as much rebounds as getting in there for layups."
McCauley, a 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore, led the early surge by scoring 10 of his points in the first quarter. He delivered his other nine points in the third quarter.
"We came out (in the first quarter) and played the best basketball we played all year," McCauley said. "It was awesome playing in this game. It was a great atmosphere with our fans here."
Rice, a 6-foot senior, combined with Bailey, a 5-8 sophomore, to score 16 of the Bulldogs' 20 points in the fourth quarter. The two accounted for 14 straight points after Milton Hershey closed to within four points (67-63) with 6:38 remaining in the game.
"I thought, this is my last home game, and I'm not losing," Rice said. "They're a great team. We tried pulling away, but they just kept hitting threes. We're not satisfied with the win, but we'll take it."
Milton Hershey connected for nine 3-point baskets, six by Tariq Bennett. Bennett led all scorers with 33 points.
"Our defense was atrocious if you take away the first four minutes," Ackerman said. "I thought Noah did a good job on Bennett. That kid made some unbelievable shots. But the rest of our defense wasn't there. Basically, we just outscored them."
West York survived and insured its first trip to the Giant Center since the 2006-07 season. That Bulldogs' team captured the District 3-AAA title.
OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL
Bermudian Springs 52, Lancaster Catholic 40: At York Springs, the Eagles dominated the second half to advance to the District 3-AAA quarterfinals.
Bermudian trailed 13-6 after one quarter and 24-20 at halftime, but used a 12-6 third-quarter surge to take the lead and a 20-10 fourth-quarter spurt to take control.
Alex Orwig had 18 points for the winners, while Alex Huntington added 11.
Sixth-seeded Bermudian improved to 21-2, while 11th-seeded Lancaster Catholic finished its season at 16-8.
The Eagles will now face No. 3 seed Boiling Springs (20-3) in the quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Friday at the Giant Center. Boiling Springs edged Bermudian earlier this season. Boiling Springs advanced to the quarterfinals with a 58-52 victory over No. 14 seed York Suburban.
Boiling Springs 58, York Suburban 52: At Boiling Springs, Suburban saw its season come to a close with a District 3-AAA first-round loss.
P.J. McClane scored 18 points for the Trojans, while C.J. Boxley added 12.
Suburban started fast, taking a 21-15 lead after one quarter, but Boiling Springs dominated the middle periods, 32-17.
The 14th-seeded Trojans finished at 16-8. Third-seeded Boiling Springs improved to 20-3.
Bishop McDevitt 86, Northeastern 57: At Harrisburg, the top-seeded Crusaders took control early and never looked back en route to a District 3-AAA first-round triumph.
McDevitt led 20-11 after one quarter and then piled up a 50-23 edge over the middle two periods.
Derrick Hoffman scored 19 points to lead the 16th-seeded Bobcats, while Donovian Maxfield added 10. Northeastern finished its season at 13-11.
McDevitt (24-1) advanced to Friday's quarterfinals, where the Crusaders will face No. 8 seed Lancaster Mennonite at 8 p.m. at the Giant Center. Mennonite (19-5) routed No. 9 seed Steel-High, 71-48.
Red Lion Christian 72, Emmanuel Baptist 43: At Red Lion Christian, the Swordsmen led 21-5 at the end of the first quarter and went on to capture the victory. Chance Thompson led the home team with 24 points, to go with 14 rebounds. RLC's Jake Myers knocked in 18 points, while Corbin Willard scored 13. Neither team attempted a free throw. RLC improved to 18-4 overall and has now clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Keystone Christian Education Association State Tournament starting Friday, Feb. 28, at Calvary Baptist.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com.