The York College men's basketball team enters the 2016-17 season with elevated expectations.
Matt Hunter is entering his fifth year at the helm of the program and welcomes back a strong core of returners, including the team's top three scorers.
Hunter will hang his hat on the returners, led by senior Dalton Myers and junior Matt Scamuffo. Myers and Scamuffo head a group that also includes senior Brad Wesner and juniors Blayde Reich and Zack Galic.
Joining the Spartan program are five freshmen, including Central York High School graduate Jared Wagner and Spring Grove High School graduate Darin Gordon. Wagner and Gordon are the only York County players on the roster.
Hunter is looking forward to seeing his team perform in the regular season.
"I love being around this team," Hunter said in a news release. "I look forward to practice each and every day. These guys have worked so hard and they are fun to be around. They understand how hard we have to work but they are really having fun with the process. This is really the first time we have had upperclassmen who are leading our team. We have been so young over the last four years, it's a bit of a role reversal for us. I think it has the potential to have an exciting year."
Coming off 10-15 season: York is coming off its best season in the Hunter regime, going 10-15 overall and 6-12 in the Capital Athletic Conference. In his four years with the Spartans, Hunter is 27-74 overall and 15-49 in the CAC.
In the CAC preseason poll, York was picked to finish fifth in the 10-team conference. Christopher Newport is the preseason favorite, followed by Salisbury, Mary Washington, St. Mary's and York.
The Spartans open the campaign on Tuesday when they travel west on Route 30 to take on the Gettysburg Bullets in a non-conference contest. The Spartans will play four of their first five games on the road, with the lone home game coming on Tuesday, Nov. 22, against Messiah. York opens conference play with a home game against Mary Washington on Dec. 3.
Top returning players: The 6-foot, 7-inch Myers returns as a first-team All-CAC selection from last year. He led the Spartans in scoring at 16.4 points per game while he also pulled in 5.8 rebounds. He led York in blocked shots with 28. Myers shot 57.4 percent from the floor, 41.4 percent from 3-point range and shot 77 percent from the free throw line.
Wesner, a 6-footer, averaged 5.3 points per game. His 24 3-pointers were the second highest total on the team.
"When Dalton and Brad got here as freshmen, we were a very young team that didn't really have an internal compass," Hunter said in the news release. "They have both worked very hard to lead and hold their teammates accountable. They have really done an outstanding job of helping change our culture. … They will certainly leave the program in good shape and they should be very proud of that. That's a huge credit to the character of both guys."
The 6-foot, 1-inch Scamuffo averaged 15.2 points per game last year. He was York's top shooter from distance, converting 59 3-pointers, shooting 39.6 percent in his 149 3-point attempts. Scamuffo led York by playing a team-high 32.1 minutes per game and was one of York's top free throw shooters, converting 78.7 percent.
The 6-foot, 5-inch Reich was solid in his first year as a starter in 2015-16, averaging 9.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Reich played in and started all 25 games.
The 6-foot, 6-inch Galic came off the bench in all 25 games of his sophomore year. He averaged 4.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
"Our juniors all played well last year but we will need them to continue to elevate their games," Hunter said in the news release. "Matt was fantastic last year and I look for him to continue his ascension as one of the top guards in the league. Blayde and Zack are a pair of key forwards for us. Blayde has really had a great preseason and we need him to keep that up as we start the year. Zack did a really good job coming off the bench for us last year. His ability to play inside and out make him a tough match up for our opponents.”
Freshmen: Wagner, a 6-foot, 1-inch guard, scored more than 1,000 points in his Central career and was a York-Adams League Division I First Team All-Star and a third-team all-state selection in Class 4-A.
Gordon, a 6-foot, 3-inch guard, was also a 1,000-point scorer in his Spring Grove career. He was a York-Adams League Division I Second Team All-Star.
Some information for this story was provided by York College.