One of the nice things about high school basketball is that it creates a scenario where local talent often goes on to succeed at the next level and represent York County well.
This season, the Juniata College women’s team serves as a great example of that.
From top to bottom, York County has its imprints all over a team that is 14-1 on the season and ranked No. 20 nationally in NCAA Division III in the latest D3Hoops.com poll. The Eagles own a 3-1 Landmark Conference record as well.
The club’s signature victory is a 62-54, Dec. 2 home victory against No. 18 Scranton in its Landmark opener.
Locals leading the way: The local flavor starts with two of the team’s three captains, Bethany Spencer and Rachael Anstine.
The 5-foot. 10-inch Anstine is senior forward out of Dallastown High School and was a member of the Wildcats’ 2013 York-Adams League championship club.
She’s started all 15 games this season and is third on the team in scoring at 7.8 points per game. Anstine also puts up 4.5 rebounds per game and blocks 1.5 shots on average.
The 5-3 Spencer is a senior guard and a graduate of York Suburban High School. She’s also started every game this season for the Eagles, while posting 4.3 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game and is tied for second on the team with 2.0 assists per contest.
The roster also includes York County grads in sophomore guard Steph Waltersdorff (York Country Day) and junior guard Kaeana Rebert (South Western).
While not a York County product, the team’s third captain, Dani Atkinson, is a District 3 alum (Lancaster Catholic) who leads the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game.
“It makes me proud for sure,” said Eagles head coach Danny Young-Uhrich of achieving success with a York County flair. “I’ve always felt as though York County is a hot bed for girls’ basketball and having this type of success with York County kids leading the way validates that. Plus, it’s fun having kids on the roster you can talk ‘home’ to. The connections to people, places, etc., make relationship building so much easier.”
York County coaching: Further adding to the local flavor for the Eagles is the fact that Young-Uhrich is a York County product herself. Young-Uhrich, a 1996 Eastern York graduate, was a 1,000-point scorer during her days with the Golden Knights. She recorded 1,066 points for her high school career before continuing that standout play in college at Juniata.
A 2000 graduate of the program she now leads, Young-Uhrich ranks high on the program’s all-time lists in several categories. She’s the program leader in steals with 299, ranks second in blocked shots with 124, third in assists with 291, seventh in scoring with 1,045 points and she sits in ninth with 596 rebounds.
“It is pretty neat to get out of York County for college but still have a connection to home through coach,” Anstine said. “Having success under coach Young-Uhrich is really special to me because she has always been trusting and encouraging of not only me, but of our entire class.”
The team’s 14-0 start was the best start in Young-Uhrich's 15 seasons as head coach. She spent two years as an Eagles’ assistant after graduation before taking over the program, and sports a 212-174 career record at the helm.
Eagles' strengths: According to Young-Uhrich, the Eagles’ success boils down to three main components — size, balance and leadership.
“We have a strong presence in the paint with both the size and depth of our posts,” Young-Uhrich said. “We are also able to stretch the defense with our guard play. We have guards that can both knock down perimeter jumpers and get to the rim to finish or dish.”
As for the Eagles leaders, Young-Uhrich notes that both Anstine and Spencer provide a great deal of it, but in different manners.
“Beth leads by example," the coach said. "She has great knowledge of the game, especially on the defensive end. And she’s a tough competitor. No matter what we are doing, she will always be competing and giving her best.
“And Rach, she’s a very analytical player. She’s quiet but when she speaks, everyone listens. On the floor and throughout the years, she has been a versatile player for us. For her first three years, she’s been our ‘5.’ Now, with our size and depth in the post position, she’s able to play a 4/high post more, and the 4 is most definitely a position more suited for her physique and style of play.”
Anstine added that the area players receive an added benefit from their familiarity with one another.
“I think the biggest benefit I see of playing with players from the York area is being able to get together in the summer or over breaks to play, work out, or just hang out,” Anstine said. “A bunch of us play summer league together, which is very beneficial to our team dynamic. This also allows us to hold each other accountable to be keeping up with our workouts.”
Next up for the Eagles is a chance to start a new streak after Saturday’s tough 46-44 loss at Drew. The Eagles host Landmark foe Susquehanna on Wednesday night.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.