Pair of former York-Adams standouts stepping up for York College women's basketball

York Suburban's Alyssa Hocker and Spring Grove's Brooklyn Naylor have become key pieces for the Spartans.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

The York College women’s basketball team had some pretty high expectations for the 2022-23 season on the heels of a terrific campaign a year ago.

With those expectations came some opportunities as a handful of seniors from a squad that won 20 games graduated.

A couple of local former standouts have been amongst the group looking to fill those shoes — York Suburban grad Alyssa Hocker and Spring Grove alum Brooklyn Naylor. Both juniors made contributions during York’s run to the MAC Commonwealth tournament final a season ago.

While the season to date — which includes a disheartening 57-51 setback Monday to Susquehanna — has not yet lived up to the team’s collective expectations, both Naylor (five points, four rebounds, two blocks Monday) and Hocker (four points, three rebounds, one steal) have stepped in to take key roles for the Spartans.

York College's Alyssa Hocker (15) against Alvernia University's Kayla Williams (22) during their womens basketball game in York on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

To say that the difference from playing high school to college is dramatic may be somewhat of an understatement if you ask both.

“Yeah, there’s definitely a huge difference,” Hocker said. “In high school you may have one or two people that are very skilled, but with (college) it’s all five people. Everyone is skilled and everyone can shoot and rebound.”

The game itself, with 10-minute quarters compared to eight in high school as well as a bigger court, also gives contests a much different feel.

“The shot clock is different,” Naylor said. “The whole atmosphere is completely different. You may graduate and think you’re good at high school, but when you get here, you’re at the bottom of the chain and that’s a shock for a lot of us.”

Both Hocker and Naylor also lost their entire freshman seasons as the pandemic wiped out the entire slate for York. So, as sophomores, they were really just freshmen on the court in terms of game experience a season ago.

Now, as juniors and key contributors, the difference in the levels of their game from freshman year to now is somewhat mind-blowing.

“Oh my gosh,” Hocker said. “I wish I could just go back and see how much better I’ve gotten since high school, because it’s completely different.”

Naylor pointed out that while their skills have developed over the past two-plus seasons, their mentality has also grown leaps and bounds.

“It’s not even just skill,” Naylor said. “A lot of it is just confidence. You come into the program and you play with all these other girls that have so much experience and you’re like, ‘Whoa, hold on,’ and then it takes you some time to figure it out and build that confidence.”

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Both Naylor, who is averaging 2.8 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game this year, and Hocker, who is averaging 4.2 points and 4.2 boards, certainly have confidence as well as positive mindsets while the Spartans have gotten off to a 4-9 start. That mark includes a 1-3 record in MAC Commonwealth play, which has York in jeopardy of missing the conference playoffs unless the Spartans turn things around.

Naylor noted that, in 26 seasons under head coach Betsy Witman, the York women have never failed to qualify for the conference playoffs.

“We just want to finish the season with more wins than losses (the rest of the schedule),” Hocker said.

“And since we’re done with out-of-conference play, I think it’s really, really important for us to get into the top-five spot to make the playoffs,” Naylor added. “Coach Witman has never failed to make the playoffs, and I don’t want this to be the first team like that.”