Once upon a time, not so long ago, York-area boys' basketball teams went into hibernation come late February.
When the District 3 playoffs started, the local boys' programs stopped being relevant. That's an undeniable fact.
From 1997 through 2006, in 40 opportunities across four classes, the York-Adams League produced exactly one District 3 boys' champion — York Catholic 1999.
The bottom line is this: When it came time to hand out gold medals at Hershey's Giant Center, the local teams were conspicuous by their absence.
My how times have changed.
Right now, we're living in a golden age for area boys' hoops programs.
This weekend, the York area will have three representatives in the District 3 boys' finals — Central York in Class AAAA, Eastern York in Class AAA and York Country Day in Class A.
That kind of success has become the rule, rather than the exception, in the past decade.
Beginning in 2007, York-area teams have earned a dozen district championships, and they have the opportunity to push that number to 15 with a 3-0 performance at the Giant Center in the coming days.
How do you explain that kind of turnaround?
Well, there are several reasons.
Coaching: Overall coaching in the area has probably never been better.
York High's Troy Sowers, who recently resigned after a stellar 10-year run, has probably done more to improve the reputation of York County basketball than any other single individual. During his tenure, the Bearcats went 225-67 and captured three District 3-AAAA crowns. They finished second on two other occasions. That kind of success, against the district's biggest and best programs, certainly caught the attention of the state's basketball community.
But Sowers was hardly alone in helping to raise the profile of York-area boys' basketball.
West York's Bill Ackerman has built the Bulldogs into consistent District 3-AAA contenders, including a title in 2007. Central York's Kevin Schieler, Spring Grove's James Brooks, Hanover's Nate Myers, Eastern York's Jon Reichard, York Country Day's Corey Stiles, York Catholic's Blaine Claiborne and Northeastern's Jon Eyster have also established strong programs.
Players: Good coaching, however, can only take you so far without good players, and in recent years York County has produced an impressive array of basketball standouts, including several who competed on the NCAA Division I level, such as Austin Tillotson (Eastern York), Andrew Nicholas (Eastern York), Four McGlynn (Dallastown), Tre Bowman (Central York), Kelvin Parker (York High) and Jermaine Marshall (Red Land).
And the Division I talent pool in the area hasn't dried up, either. Spring Grove junior star Eli Brooks already has 10 D-I offers, at latest report, and will likely attract more. He's that good. Some are even whispering that he might be among the best players that York County has ever produced.
Ballers: Many of those D-I players refined their skills in the offseason with the highly regarded York Ballers, which has established itself as one of the top AAU programs in the mid-Atlantic region under the direction of well-known local basketball mentors Pat McGlynn, Carmello Casiano and Clovis Gallon.
Put all of those factors together, and you have a championship formula.
There's an excellent chance that formula will result in more gold medals hanging around the necks of York County boys this week at the Giant Center.
If that happens, the golden age for area boys' basketball will continue to shine brighter than ever.
Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
ROLL CALL OF CHAMPIONS
Following is a list of York-area boys' teams to win District 3 basketball titles over the last decade:
2015: York High, AAAA.
2015: Hilda Goodling Impact Academy, A.
2014: York High, AAAA.
2014: New Hope Charter Academy, A.
2013: Delone Catholic, AA.
2012: Delone Catholic, AA.
2011: Hanover, AA.
2011: York High, AAAA.
2010: Eastern York, AAA.
2009: York Suburban, AAA.
2007: West York, AAA.
2007: York Catholic, AA.