HEISER: York-Adams boys put on riveting basketball show

Steve Heiser
  • Northeastern started 17-0 before finishing 20-2 and winning York-Adams Division I.
  • Spring Grove standout and Michigan recruit Eli Brooks is averaging 29.4 points per game.
  • Nine teams in the York-Adams League are averaging at least 60 points per game.

York County boys' basketball fans have spoken.

They've spoken with their wallets, which they've opened up week after week to snatch up tickets and pack the Northeastern High gym with one sellout crowd after another.

Northeastern head coach Jon Eyster, center, talks to his team during a timeout this season. The Bobcats are 20-2 and won the York-Adams Division I title this season.

They've spoken with their pens, which they hand to Eli Brooks game after game to coax an autograph from the most highly-recruited boys' player in York-Adams League history.

They've spoken with their voices, which they've raised in unison at gym after gym to show their appreciation for one of the most entertaining, high-scoring seasons in recent memory.

We've just closed the book on the 2016-2017 York-Adams boys' basketball regular season. It was competitive, unpredictable and compelling.

Thankfully, the best may be yet to come.

The York-Adams boys' basketball playoffs start Saturday with quarterfinal doubleheaders at West York and Red Lion. They will end with the championship game Friday, Feb. 17, at York College.

The dramatic regular-season plot has prepared us well for the climax still to come.

Bobcat Nation: Northeastern took the league by storm for the first six weeks of the season, dominating most every foe put in their path en route to a 17-0 start.

All of those victories came by at least eight points, and the vast majority came by 15 points or more.

The folks in Manchester, Mount Wolf and the surrounding communities certainly took notice.

The fans get into the game during the Spring Grove-Northeastern boys' basketball contest on Jan. 3. Northeastern fans have turned out in force this season to watch their Bobcats play.

Bobcat Nation came out in force to such a degree that school officials were forced to hold advance ticket sales for many home games. Packed crowds became the norm in Manchester.

There were even whispers about a possible PIAA state crown, and why not? At one time, the Bobcats were ranked as high as No. 5 in Pennsylvania in Class 5-A by the City of Basketball Love website.

Then the Bobcats hit a few bumps in the road, losing to Central York and Spring Grove down the stretch.

Northeastern finished the regular season at 20-2, but the Bobcats still managed to win the York-Adams Division I title and are still ranked No. 1 in the District 3 5-A power ratings. They've fallen out the top 10 in the state rankings, however.

In the end, the late losses may be a blessing. They should serve as a wake-up call for the Bobcats. In addition, Northeastern won't be burdened by trying to protect an unbeaten record or high state ranking in the postseason. They can just play.

The Eli phenomenon: York County has never seen anything quite like Eli Brooks.

The buzz around the Spring Grove standout started in the summer, when he committed to play for the University of Michigan.

It continued to grow once the high school season started and the 6-foot, 1-inch Brooks started compiling video-game-like numbers. He's averaging a ridiculous 29.4 points per game and more than 15 rebounds per game, he recently passed the 2,000-point mark for his career and he's coming off a career-high 23-rebound performance. And he's done all that while facing numerous gimmick defenses that normally include double teams and occasional triple teams.

Spring Grove's Eli Brooks is among the "Terrific 10" for Pennsylvania high school boys' basketball.

Brooks has powered the Rockets to a 17-5 overall record and a runner-up finish in York-Adams Division I.

It's no wonder that fans from all across the county and beyond are making it a special point to watch him play. Then, after his games, many of those same fans wait in line to get his autograph.

PREP: Spring Grove beats Mid-Penn Colonial champion

That's right, fans, especially young ones, are craving the scribblings of a high school kid.

To his credit, the Rocket star has graciously obliged the requests.

Points, points, points: The excitement around the league extends beyond just the Bobcats and Brooks.

That's largely because the league has a number of teams capable of lighting up the scoreboard.

Friday night, for instance, two of the teams near the bottom of the Division I standings combined for a whopping 207 points in just 32 regulation minutes. That's right, York High outlasted South Western, 109-98, without playing any overtimes. Many NBA teams struggle to reach those kind of numbers in 48-minute contests.

The Bearcats and Mustangs, however, are not alone in putting up sometimes-absurd numbers.

York High's Jayden Handy, left, is seen here in action from earlier this season. Friday night, the Bearcats earned a wild 109-98 triumph over South Western. That game was emblematic of a high-scoring boys' basketball season in the York-Adams League.

Division III champion York Catholic (72.0) and Northeastern (71.9) each average more than 70 points per game, while seven more league teams pump in more than 60 points per game.

In comparison, in at least two recent seasons (2012-13 and 2007-08), only three league teams managed to average more than 60 points per game.

Typically, fans love fast-paced, high-scoring, run-and-gun basketball. With that being the case, local fans should relish what is looming in the league boys' playoffs.

Here's one piece of advice for those fans: Buy your tickets early. They are sure to be scarce commodities. History tells us that much.

After that, you can enjoy the show.

It promises to be worth the price of admission.

Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.