PREP BASKETBALL NOTES: Red Lion-Central York boys' showdown offers contrast in styles

  • Red Lion visits Central York in a boys' basketball game on Friday.
  • Both teams will enter at 3-0 in York-Adams Division I.
  • Central averages 87 points per game. Red Lion gives up 36.2 ppg.
Central York's Nolan Hubbs moves the ball against York High during action at York High Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

Friday night at Central York should offer a classic confrontation of contrasting styles.

In an early-season York-Adams Division I boys’ basketball showdown, the Panthers will play host to Red Lion in a battle of unbeatens.

Under normal circumstances, the Central gym would be packed with fans eager to see two of the league’s biggest schools fight for first place in the division.

Unfortunately, these are not normal circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen to that.

Still, local basketball fans will have an opportunity to watch a livestream of the game from Sports Shooting Stars.

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It won’t be as good as being there in person, but it’s better than not witnessing the showdown at all. Because this should be a game that local high school basketball fans won’t want to miss.

High-scoring Panthers vs. defensive-minded Lions: Central enters at 3-0 overall and averaging a league-leading 87 points per game, with an average victory margin of 36 points under first-year head coach Jeff Hoke.

Hoke wants his Panthers to model their fast-paced offense after the high-scoring 1990 Loyola-Marymount outfit that featured Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers. That team averaged a staggering 122 points per contest and finished 26-3.

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The 2021 Panthers aren’t averaging 122 per game, but putting up 87 points per contest in a 32-minute high school game borders on the unbelievable, especially since all three Central wins featured a running clock in the second half because of the mercy rule.

Red Lion, meanwhile, will enter with a vastly different style. The Lions (6-0 overall) lead the league in fewest points allowed per game at 36.2.

Different traditions: The two teams will also enter with markedly different traditions of success in recent seasons.

None of the players on the current Red Lion team has ever enjoyed a winning season. Last year’s Lions finished at 10-12 and didn’t even qualify for the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs. That would definitely qualify Red Lion as one of the biggest surprises in the Y-A season thus far.

Central, meanwhile, became a Y-A power in recent years under former head coach Kevin Schieler, who resigned after last season’s league championship campaign, citing burnout. Last year’s Panthers advanced to the second round of the PIAA 6-A playoffs and finished 24-5.

Red Lion's Davante Dennis drives against Central's Taylor Wright-Rawls during action at Red Lion Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

Both teams have balanced scoring: One thing both teams have in common, other than their 3-0 D-I records, is balanced scoring. Each team has four players averaging in double digits.

 Central is led by their do-everything senior, Nolan Hubbs, who is averaging 16.0 points per game. Jacobi Baker, Kai’ryn Brown and Greg Guidinger each average 15.3 ppg for the Panthers. Guidinger, a 6-5 freshman, is making an immediate impact.

Red Lion’s top scorer is Davante Dennis, a two-sport standout who is averaging 13.5 ppg. Dennis is a 6-6 senior who has already received offers to play NCAA Division I football. Evan Watt (12.2 ppg), A.J. Virata (11.4 ppg) and Masen Urey (10.2 ppg) are also major scoring threats for the Lions.

Watching the Guidinger-Dennis matchup could be a real treat, pitting the experienced senior vs. the freshman phenom in a battle of standout big men.

This game won’t determine the division champion. It’s far too early for that. Dallastown (2-1 overall and 2-0 in D-I) could also be a major player in the D-I race.

Still, the Red Lion-Central contest has all the makings of a classic. Let’s just hope it lives up the billing. We could all use an entertaining distraction right now.

Gettysburg's Camryn Felix, right, works to get around Dallastown's Claire Teyral during YAIAA girls' basketball championship action at Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center at York College of Pennsylvania in Spring Garden Township, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo


Other boys’ unbeatens: While Red Lion and Central have garnered much of the area’s attention in the early going this season, a few other Y-A boys’ teams also boast unbeaten overall records.

York Suburban sits at 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Division II despite losing one of their best players before the season began, when standout sophomore Savon Sutton opted to transfer to a charter school in South Carolina. Sutton has already received multiple D-I offers.

Even without Sutton, however, the Trojans are still packed with talent, led by the trio of senior Alon Gorham (16.5 ppg), senior Aidan Hughley (16.0 ppg) and junior Camden Brewer (15.3 ppg).  The 6-6 Hughley needs just 25 more points to reach 1,000 for his career.

Suburban, however, could get a major challenge on Friday night when it plays host to West York in a battle for first place in D-II. West York will enter that game at 3-0 in the division and 3-1 overall. The Bulldogs are led by Ty Nalls (18.0 ppg), A.J. Williams (14.0 ppg) and Jaden Walker (11.3 ppg).

Kennard-Dale (5-1 overall) sits just behind the Trojans and the Bulldogs in D-II at 3-1.

In D-III, York Catholic sits at 3-0 both overall and in the division and is tied for first place with Bermudian Springs (4-1 overall). Hanover (2-1 overall) is just a half game back at 2-0.  York Catholic has two major road challenges looming at Hanover on Friday and at Bermudian on Monday.

The Fighting Irish are led by sophomore Luke Forjan (23.0 ppg) and senior Preston Boeckel (19.0 ppg).

Girls’ unbeatens: There are four Y-A girls’ teams that still boast unbeaten overall records, including two that are ranked among the best teams in the state in their respective classes.

Gettysburg and Delone Catholic both won District 3 titles a year ago in 5-A and 3-A respectively. Both had also advanced to the state quarterfinals before the pandemic prematurely ended the 2020 season.

So, it’s not surprising that both the Warriors and Squirettes are still unbeaten in 2021.

Gettysburg is 6-0 overall and leads D-II at 4-0. Delone is 5-0 overall and leads D-III at 3-0. In the latest Trib-HSSN state rankings from Don Rebel at The (Greensburg) Tribune-Review, Gettysburg is No. 3 in 5-A and Delone is No. 2 in 4-A.

The Warriors are led by the junior guard duo of Anne Bair (16.3 ppg) and Camryn Felix (14.7 ppg).

It’s unlikely that Delone, led by the return of junior all-state performer Giana Hoddinott (18.6 ppg), will be challenged much in D-III this season. The Squirettes' longtime coach, Gerry Eckenrode, should pick up his 500th career victory next week.

The other girls' divisional races look much more competitive.

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In D-II, Suburban put a scare into Gettysburg earlier this week, and Eastern York could definitely pose a threat to the Warriors. The Golden Knights sit at 4-0 overall and 3-0 in D-II. West York (3-1 both overall and in the division) is also a D-II theat. Eastern is paced by Mara Weaver (13.8 ppg), Breana Grim (12.3 ppg) and Victoria Zerbe (10.3 ppg). Alainna Hopta (13.8 ppg) leads West York.

In D-I, Spring Grove has established itself as the early favorite at 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the division. Red Lion (2-1, 2-0), Dallastown (3-1, 2-1) and Central York (1-1, 1-1) figure to be the other major contenders in D-I. The Rockets, led by Ella Kale (16.4 ppg), Addyson Wagman (15.8 ppg) and Laila Campbell (12.0 ppg) have already beaten defending D-I champion Central and defending league champion Dallastown.

The scoring leaders for other D-I contenders are D’Shantae Edwards (18..5 ppg for Dallastown), Makiah Shaw (17.0 ppg for Red Lion) and Sarah Berman (12.5 ppg for Central).

— Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at