Friday night, the York College basketball programs will embark on their final Capital Athletic Conference seasons.
The Spartans, of course, are hoping to go out with a bang.
If the York College teams do succeed on the hardwood this season, that success will almost certainly come with major contributions from some former York-Adams League standouts.
It was announced in April that York will join the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth Division in 2020. That will end the Spartans’ 30-year association with the CAC.
The two York basketball programs will enter their final CAC seasons with very different expectations.
The Spartan men, coached by Matt Hunter, are coming off consecutive 20-plus-win seasons and return four of their top five scorers from a season ago, when York earned a share of the CAC regular-season crown. The other CAC coaches have pegged the Spartans to finish second in the six-team league in 2019-2020, behind only defending CAC Tournament champion Christopher Newport.
The York women, however, lost four of their top five scorers from last year’s 11-15 outfit. The CAC coaches have them slotted to finish fifth in the conference in the upcoming season.
Despite those different expectations, however, the two York teams do have something in common — rosters with lots of local talent.
Wagner, Gordon to lead York men: The York men will be led by Central York High School graduate Jared Wagner and Spring Grove grad Darin Gordon.
Wagner, a 6-foot, 1-inch senior, was an All-CAC selection last season when the do-everything guard averaged 14.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game. He led the CAC in assists and steals. Gordon, a 6-3 senior, averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.
The Spartans also welcome back the inside presence of 6-6 seniors Joe Polczynski (11.3 points, 4.9 rebounds per game) and Zach Novick (7.3 points, 2.8 rebounds per game).
There is one very big missing piece from York’s 22-8 team in 2018-2019 — CAC Player of the Year Jason Bady. The 6-footer played much bigger than his size, averaging 18.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
One player to keep an eye on is freshman Logan Collins, a 6-4 Littlestown grad who was second in the York-Adams League in scoring last season at 22 points per game.
The Spartans will get an immediate test in their opener Friday night in Lancaster vs. perennial power Franklin & Marshall, which finished 22-7 a season ago.
Robinson retiring: One interesting note about the F&M game. Monday, longtime F&M head coach Glenn Robinson announced his retirement, effective immediately. Robinson led the F&M program for 48 years and won 967 games — the most in NCAA Division III history.
Nick Nichay, Robinson’s top assistant for the past seven seasons, will be F&M’s interim head coach. Robinson told Lancaster Online that he hopes Nichay will get the job on a permanent basis.
"I am retiring because I believe it is the right time," Robinson said on the F&M website. "This decision has absolutely nothing to do with health. It has to do with the demands of coaching. Coaching demands energy, alertness, attention to detail and unlimited enthusiasm, and I feel coach Nichay is better able to demonstrate those attributes with our team."
Nichay also served as the interim head coach at the start of the 2018-19 season when Robinson was on medical leave.
York women open vs. Johns Hopkins: The York women also have a tough opener on Friday night in Baltimore vs. Johns Hopkins, which is coming off a 23-5 season.
The Spartans’ leading returning player is 5-9 junior guard Kayla Ferris, a returning All-CAC performer, who averaged 10.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game last year.
York, coached by Hanover grad Betsy Witman, doesn't have a senior on the roster and must replace Dallastown grads Katie McGowan (18.2 ppg) and Debria Hendricks (9.2 ppg) and former York Country Day standout Logynn Fuller (9.0 ppg).
York does return York Suburban grad Molly Day, a 5-10 junior, who averaged 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in an injury-shortened season. Three other former York-Adams players also return for York: Gettysburg grad Alana Bortner (5-10 sophomore, 4.2 ppg), New Oxford grad Haley Luckabaugh (5-9 sophomore) and Suburban grad Briaunna Embrey-Banks (6-0 sophomore).
In addition, the Spartans will feature two freshmen from the Y-A League: Delone grad Bradi Zumbrum and Susquehannock grad Jayla Galbreath. Zumbrum, a 6-footer, was an all-state performer last year, helping the Squirettes win a state 3-A title. The 5-foot Galbreath helped Susquehannock win three Y-A D-II titles during her Warriors career.
OTHER YORK COLLEGE NOTES
Four field hockey players honored by CAC: The York College field hockey team placed four players on the 2019 All-CAC squads as announced by the league on Thursday afternoon.
Junior Dana Meehling and senior Amanda Boclair earned first-team honors, while senior Meghan Heary and freshman Abby Piotrowski were named to the second team.
Meehling makes her third all-conference team. She was a second-team pick as a freshman, followed by a first-team selection as a sophomore. Meehling finished the year with 12 points on six goals.
Boclair makes her first All-CAC appearance. She finished the year with nine points on two goals and a team-high tying five assists.
Heary earned her first All-CAC honors after finishing the campaign with nine points on three goals and three assists.
Piotrowski led the Spartans in scoring with 21 points on eight goals and five assists.
Two Spartans recognized by CAC in volleyball: The York College volleyball squad placed two players on the All-CAC squads as announced by the league office on Thursday morning.
Senior middle hitter Madyson Whitcomb and junior libero Emily Pupo were both named to the second team.
Whitcomb, a Bermudian Springs grad, makes her second All-CAC appearance. She was also a second-team pick last fall. Whitcomb earned the honor despite missing the final nine games of the year because of a season-ending knee injury. Without Whitcomb, York went 1-8 down the stretch.
Whitcomb had a team-leading .349 attack percentage, 73 blocks and an average of 0.94 blocks per set. She led the CAC in attack percentage.
Pupo, a libero, finished the year with 393 digs, 84 assists, 21 service aces and a serve-receive percentage of .929.
Men's soccer team blanked: The York College men's soccer squad had its 2019 campaign end as the top-seeded Christopher Newport Captains blanked the Spartans 3-0 in the CAC semifinals on Wednesday night in Newport News, Virginia.
York finished at 9-9-2. The Captains improved to 13-2-3. Josh Kappes had five saves for York.
Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.