For decades, the winners of the York-Adams League basketball tournaments have often referred to themselves as “county champions.”
That unofficial title likely dates back to the pre-1992 period when the league only included teams from York County.
Since 1992, however, the league has also included Adams County schools.
Over the years, the number of Adams County programs in the league has steadily grown from three in 1992 to the current seven.
Still, year after year, the “county champions” title has remained in use.
There’s a good reason for that. The Adams County teams have seldom been major factors in the league basketball tournaments.
In fact, since the Y-A playoffs were reestablished in 1995, only two Adams County schools have managed to win league playoff titles — the Delone Catholic boys in 2000 and the Delone girls in 2001.
Of course, the Adams County schools are at a major disadvantage come league playoff time.
First, they’re seriously outnumbered. There are 16 York County schools in the league, more than twice the number of Adams County schools.
Second, five of the Adams County schools compete in the league’s small-school division. Delone, Bermudian Springs, Littlestown, Biglerville and Fairfield are in Division III. Gettysburg competes in D-II, and New Oxford is in D-I. Programs with a smaller enrollment will nearly always struggle to compete against bigger schools. It's just the nature of things.
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So, it’s not exactly surprising that the Adams County programs have not fared well during the basketball playoffs.
In 2020, however, that could change. When the Y-A basketball playoffs start Feb. 7, several Adams County schools could be serious championship threats.
Gettysburg, New Oxford are threats on boys’ side: On the boys’ side, both Gettysburg and New Oxford are shaping up as major contenders.
The Warriors are the only Y-A boys’ team with an unbeaten overall record at 12-0. They also lead D-II at 5-0.
Gettysburg also boasts a pair of very impressive wins over two of the best teams in D-I, beating both New Oxford (56-51) and Northeastern (63-60). Northeastern is 11-3 overall and tied for D-I lead with Central at 6-1. New Oxford, meanwhile, is 10-3 overall and 5-2 in D-I.
The Warriors also may have the best player in the league in 6-foot, 4-inch junior Quadir Copeland, who is averaging more than 21 points per game.
Gettysburg is also the only Y-A team to grab a top-10 spot in the latest Sunbury Daily Item state basketball poll, earning a No. 10 ranking in Class 5-A.
New Oxford can’t be overlooked either. Just a year ago, the Colonials nearly ended Adams County’s basketball title drought before falling to York High in the league playoff final, 54-50.
The Colonials return two of their best players from that team in 6-3 standouts Abdul Janneh and Brayden Long, who are both averaging about 14 ppg this season.
Delone, Bermudian, Gettysburg look like girls’ contenders: On the girls’ side, there appears to be three teams capable of ending the Adams County wait for a league champion.
Delone, of course, would appear to be the most likely team to end the drought. The unbeaten Squirettes have been simply dominant this season, outscoring their foes by more than 30 points per game. Only one of their 14 wins has come by fewer than 19 points — an eight-point victory vs. Class 6-A Pennridge.
The defending PIAA Class 3-A state champions have also taken down some very strong nonleague foes along the way, including Linden Hall (10-1), West York (10-3), Trinity (8-3) and Berks Catholic (8-3). That has earned Delone the No. 1 3-A ranking in the state in the HSSN Trib poll.
Delone is powered by sophomore Giana Hoddinott (16 ppg) and senior Brooke Lawyer (13 ppg). One scary thought for Delone’s foes — they might get even better. Coach Gerry Eckenrode’s club is dominated by sophomores, with Lawyer being the only senior starter.
There could be one caveat for Delone. Despite some outstanding teams over the last two decades, including four state title squads, the Squirettes have managed just one league title.
Bermudian, meanwhile, has emerged as a real threat this season, compiling an 11-1 overall record, including 5-0 in Y-A D-III. The Eagles are ranked No. 4 in 4-A in the latest HSSN Trib state poll.
The Eagles’ most impressive win came in its season opener, a 73-63 triumph over perennial power Lancaster Catholic, which sits at 10-2 on the season.
Bermudian may be the most balanced team in the league, with three players (Skyler West, Bailey Oehmig and Hannah Chenault) averaging about 13 ppg.
Gettysburg is coming off a semifinal appearance in the 2019 Y-A girls’ playoffs, losing to eventual champion Dallastown, and sits at 10-2 overall this season and 5-1 in Y-A D-II.
The Warriors return everyone of note from that team, plus they added a key transfer from Delone in sophomore Camryn Felix, who is leading Gettysburg in scoring at nearly 11 ppg.
In last year’s playoffs, Gettysburg took down Delone in a notable first-round performance, 54-47.
Overview: Of course, there are more than three weeks remaining before the league playoffs start.
A lot could change in the interim.
You can also rest assured that the York County teams will try mightily to maintain their league playoff dominance.
One thing, however, appears certain at this point.
The balance of basketball power in the York-Adams League this season has shifted perceptibly to the west.
And when the league champions are crowned in mid-February, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if at least one of the “county champions” actually hailed from Adams County.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.