The York Suburban boys' basketball team put an exclamation point on its fabulous finish by claiming a share of the York-Adams Division III title on Tuesday night.
The Trojans defeated Susquehannock, 60-40, to finish as division co-champions with Eastern York.
Suburban, which appeared to be buried halfway through the season, rose up and won nine of its last 10 games.
"People didn't think we had a chance, now we're going to counties (York-Adams Tournament)," Suburban's Evan Eberhardinger said in the hallway outside the team's locker room.
Eberhardinger was the lone returning starter this year from a team that won 23 games.
"It was hard at first," the 6-foot senior said. "We had to get everyone working together, but now it's all flowing together."
Suburban lost to Susquehannock, 65-56, in the initial meeting of the teams this season and dropped eight of its first 12 games.
"When you're 4-8, it's very easy to pack it in and say this guy (the coach) doesn't know what he's talking about," said Trojans' first-year head coach Dustin Boeckel. "But the guys had the trust and confidence in each other to really turn things around."
Boeckel said the key was a major improvement on defense.
In Tuesday's game, the Trojans recorded 11 steals and held Susquehannock to 29 percent shooting from the field (5-for-17) in the second half.
"My wife will tell you that I probably watched the first game against them three or four times," Boeckel said. "We recognized we didn't do a good job in pressuring the ball, and we weren't up in the passing lanes or contesting shots. All around tonight, we did a very good job, and I was proud of the kids."
The Trojans, who never trailed in the game, snapped a 2-2 tie with a run of eight straight points. Susquehannock stayed in contention through the first 16 minutes, trailing by eight
Eberhardinger led all scorers with 19 points on Senior Night. C.J. Boxley and Malique Wise added nine points each.
"Evan has been an integral part of what we do," Boeckel said. "One of the things he's improved on is attacking the rim. Last year, he was getting to the line two times a game. This year, he's been getting to the line probably seven or eight times a game."
While Eberhardinger and Boxley slashed to the basket against the Warriors, Wise was a force on the baseline. The 6-foot, 8-inch junior snared 10 rebounds and was a matchup nightmare.
"Malique improved drastically since he joined us in December," Boeckel said. "He suffered a mild concussion from football season, so he wasn't able to start the season with us."
Tyler Brooks was Susquehannock's top scorer with 14 points, and Dan Ferraro added 11.
The Warriors closed the regular season with a 9-5 league record and a 14-8 overall mark.
Suburban, meanwhile, completed Division II play with an 11-3 mark. The Trojans, 13-9 overall, will take on Northeastern in the first round of the York-Adams Tournament. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Red Lion High School.
The playoffs sure didn't look like Suburban's destination back in mid-January.
"I feel really special about everything," Eberhardinger said. "We're showing people we can do it. It was a great win tonight."
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org.