Humble and hungry.

It's the motto that's defined the York High basketball team under Coach Troy Sowers.

Be proud of your accomplishments, but never haughty about them, and never satisfied enough to stop striving for improvement.

The Bearcats have taken the motto to heart and accomplished a lot during Sowers' tenure.

After going 12-13 and 18-9 in his first two seasons, York is a sparkling 134-22 over the last five seasons.

The Bearcats have won three York-Adams Tournament titles and one District 3 crown along with finishing second in districts twice. York High has also qualified for the PIAA State Class AAAA playoffs each of the past five years.

York High boys  coach Troy Sowers is preparing his Bearcats (27-3) for their Round of 16 state battle against St. Joseph s Prep (22-5), of Philadelphia.
York High boys coach Troy Sowers is preparing his Bearcats (27-3) for their Round of 16 state battle against St. Joseph s Prep (22-5), of Philadelphia. (File photo)

"My first two years here, Clovis (assistant coach Clovis Gallon) and I changed a whole lot of things from a (team) rules standpoint and expectations standpoint," Sowers said. "The credit (for the success) goes to the players and my coaching staff, who are stakeholders in York High basketball because they're all Bearcats (York High graduates)."

That also includes Sowers, a former Bearcats' point guard who coached at Spring Grove and West York before taking over at his alma mater at the beginning of the 2006-07 season.

"This is where I always wanted to be," said Sowers, who is also a teacher at the city high school. "I enjoyed playing a lot, but I enjoy coaching even more."

Sowers knew the rich history of the program when he took over and has never hesitated in setting the bar high each year. He consistently seeks the best possible competition during the regular season in order to prepare his team for the playoffs.

The 2013 state playoffs are at the Round of 16 stage, and on Monday afternoon, York High was practicing for its game against St. Joseph's Prep, of Philadelphia. The contest is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Coatesville High School.

Jahaire Wilson (23) has been a huge key for the Bearcats in recent games. The 6-3 sophomore has recorded a double-double in points and rebounds for five
Jahaire Wilson (23) has been a huge key for the Bearcats in recent games. The 6-3 sophomore has recorded a double-double in points and rebounds for five straight contests. The Bearcats are in the state tournament for the fifth straight season. (File photo)

St. Joseph's Prep features two players, Stephen Vasturia and Miles Overton, who have earned NCAA Division I college scholarships. Vasturia will be attending Notre Dame, and Overton will be moving on to Wake Forest. Overton's father, Doug, played for La Salle and in the NBA for 11 seasons, including tours with the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Bullets.

The 6-4 Vasturia scored 27 points to lead the Hawks past Abington, 48-33, in the opening round of the state tournament.

"Vasturia does everything," Sowers said. "He'll post you up or shoot a J (jumper). He's the most versatile player we've seen. That (the versatility) is why he's going to Notre Dame."

Sowers isn't certain what to expect defensively from the Hawks, who pushed powerhouse Neumann-Goretti to overtime before falling, 59-57, in the Philadelphia Catholic League final.

"Their defense is usually a sagging man, but they played a 2-3 matchup zone against (Abington)," he said. "I'm sure they will try to clog the paint."

York High, as it's done all season, will count on everyone in the nine-player rotation to make a contribution.

Three of the Bearcats' starters, Tavon Parker, Derek Wilson and Ramel Stephens, average in double figures, and a fourth player, Jahaire Wilson is just under 10 points a game.

Parker leads at 20.6, followed by Derek Wilson (13.3), Stephens (10.7) and Jahaire Wilson (9.8). Stephens is also a sizzling 19-for-19 from the foul line in the past four games and 23-of-24 in the last five games. Jahaire Wilson has recorded a double-double in points and rebounds for five straight games.

Parker, Derek Wilson and Stephens are seniors, and Jahaire Wilson is a sophomore.

Parker said the Bearcats are confident, but they're also aware of the challenge.

"We're playing a Philadelphia team, and most of the time those teams are pretty good," he said. "We don't feel like we played our most fundamental game against Methacton (a 67-63 York High victory in the first round of the state tournament). We reached too much (on defense), and that was the first time I fouled out in my high school career. We need to limit our fouls and the number of free throws they get."

Parker, a three-year starter, began his high school career by playing in states and will close it in states.

"We expect to be here," he said. "To still be playing in March is a testament to our coaches and players."

Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolin da@yorkdispatch.com or 505-5407.