BLOG: York-Adams teams starting to dream of districts

Patrick Strohecker

We're one month into the high school winter sports season.

That means we're about three weeks from the start of district wrestling competition and six weeks from district basketball action. Before you know it, those figures will be trimmed to zero and we'll be gearing up for the playoffs.

So, if the season ended today, here's a glance at which York-Adams League teams would make the District 3 playoffs in the six classes in boys' and girls' basketball and the two classes in wrestling. The ratings and records included all games through Sunday.

Boys' basketball: With the expansion to six classes, the number of teams admitted into the field for each class is different than in past years. The first obvious example is in 6-A, where the field has decreased from 16 teams to 12. As it stands, only Dallastown and Central York would qualify. The Wildcats are 8-3 and sit at No. 9, while the Panthers are 6-4 and holding onto one of the final two spots at No. 11. In a loaded Division I, both teams can help themselves with key wins down the stretch of the regular season, but they also need to avoid costly losses.

The second-largest class, 5-A, remains at 16 teams this year. This class might provide the best opportunity for a larger York County school to make a deep postseason run. Right now, 12-0 Northeastern holds down the top spot by nearly .30 points over undefeated Manheim Central. Also inside the top 16 are 7-3 Spring Grove at No. 6 and 7-4 Dover at No. 15. The Rockets are in pretty good shape, with most of the season still to play, but the Eagles are in desperate need of righting the ship. The Eagles are currently on a three-game losing skid after beginning the year 7-1.

Teammates Brandon Coleman, left, Fred Mulbah, center, and Austin Green have helped Northeastern to a perfect 12-0 start and sit atop the District 3 5-A power ratings. John A. Pavoncello

In 4-A, only 10 teams qualify for the tournament, with Eastern York (7-1) the highest rated team at No. 3. The Golden Knights are the only York County school in this class on the right side of the cut line, but are joined by two Adams County schools. Littlestown (5-3) is sitting nicely at No. 5, while Biglerville (6-5) doesn't have much room for error at No. 8.

Getting into the small-school classes, York Catholic is rolling, winning 10 consecutive games since losing its opener. As a reward, the Fighting Irish are currently rated No. 3 in 3-A, a class that only sees six teams qualify. Barring a complete collapse, York Catholic should make it, holding a sizable lead over the No. 4 through No. 6 teams in the class. The Irish's ceiling for the class might be No. 2. They're nipping on 11-1 Lancaster Mennonite's heels, but both trail top-rated and unbeaten Trinity by a wide margin. Coincidentally, the Shamrocks are the one team to knock off York Catholic this season.

In 2-A, only four teams make it and right now, the only Y-A school in that class, Fairfield, is on the right side of the cut line. The Green Knights (4-7) hold down the final spot and have a decent margin over No. 5 and No. 6.

Defending 1-A champion York Country Day tops that class at the moment, despite having two more losses this season than it suffered all of last year. Ten teams will qualify for the district tournament from this class, with the Greyhounds (7-3) looking like the only real possibility of a York County school making it.

Girls' basketball: The playoff bracket sizes stay the same in each class for girls as they are for the boys.

In 6-A, the only Y-A team inside the top 12 is Central York. The Panthers, despite being 10-1, are rated only sixth, but are closer to being in the top four than they are to dropping down to seventh or lower. If Central can keep rolling along in Division I, it should at least guarantee itself one home playoff game, which could be enough to book it a berth into the state tournament.

Dover's Rajah Fink went over the 1,000-point mark for her career on Thursday night.

Like with the boys, 5-A for the girls is where Y-A fans will be paying the most attention for a potential big-school district champ. Of the 16 teams that will qualify for the tournament, four of them belong to the Y-A League, with none currently rated lower than ninth. Dover (11-1) leads the bunch at No. 2, but has New Oxford (9-2) sitting right behind it at No. 3. Susquehannock (9-3) rates seventh and West York (8-3) is ninth. Not only could this be the most interesting class to watch for local supporters, but it could be the one that produces the most head-to-head match-ups should all the programs advance past the first round. It could also produce the most state-bound local teams.

Eastern York is atop the 4-A power ratings at 8-2. However, Northern Lebanon is just .002 points behind the Golden Knights, so those two teams could realistically flip flop spots with each other on an almost nightly basis. York Suburban is the only other team right now on the right side of the top 10, situated at No. 7, despite only being 5-6 on the year, but playing in a very difficult Division II.

Y-A teams occupy the top three spots in 3-A, led by Delone Catholic, followed by York Catholic and Hanover. Even though the Fighting Irish knocked off the Squirettes in their head-to-head meeting, the Adams County parochial school holds the top spot mostly because of its 8-3 record, as opposed to York Catholic's 6-3 mark. The Nighthawks are 8-4 overall, well behind the two Catholic programs, but have some breathing room over the fourth- through sixth-rated teams that will make the tournament field.

There are no teams projected to make the girls' field in 2-A, with Fairfield (2-9), the only Y-A school in the class, currently in seventh out of seven teams in the power ratings. The Green Knights would need to crack the top four to qualify.

In 1-A, Christian School of York has some cushion at No. 6. The top-10 teams will make the field. The Crusaders have a 7-2 record and aren't far behind Lancaster Christian Day School for the No. 5 spot.

Wrestling: There are still only two classes in wrestling, despite most other sports seeing some sort of expansion.

Drake Pew (top) and Dallastown are currently rated No. 2 in the latest District 3 3-A power ratings for wrestling, ahead of Division I rival Spring Grove. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

In the largest class, 3-A, 16 teams will qualify for the team tournament, while only eight will make the 2-A field.

In each class right now, only two Y-A teams are projected to make their respective tournaments. In 3-A, Dallastown and Spring Grove are the two projected tournament-bound teams, with the Wildcats (8-0) sitting at No. 2 and the Rockets (8-1) at No. 6. It's no surprise to see Spring Grove in this position, but Dallastown's early success is a huge step for the program. Ultimately, where each team finishes may come down to their Division I showdown on Jan. 17, with the winner most likely winning the Division I title and finishing as a better seed come district tournament time.

In 2-A, 8-1 Bermudian Springs is rated fourth, while 3-1 Kennard-Dale is No. 6. Right now, there's a sizable gap between the Eagles and No. 3 and No. 5, so it looks like they'll be stuck in that No. 4 spot unless they continue to roll through teams and a team above them falters. As for the Rams, they have about a .25 point cushion between them and the eighth-and-final spot and are only .006 points back of Wyomissing for the No. 5 seed. If K-D can move up to No. 5 and Bermudian holds steady at No. 4, it would set up an interesting Y-A showdown. The two teams face each other Monday night.

State rankings: In the latest City of Basketball Love state rankings by Michael Bullock, the same three York County schools held steady at their rankings in their respective classes.

Northeastern remained at No. 5 in the 5-A rankings, while York Catholic, which has won 10 games in a row, is still No. 5 in the 3-A rankings. York Country Day held steady at No. 6 in the 1-A rankings.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com