Coming into the season, there were plenty of expectations riding on the shoulders of the Dallastown boys' basketball team.
The Wildcats were coming off a promising 2016-17 season, when they made the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs and finished 14-9. Most of that team was returning.
However, before the 2017-18 campaign could begin, Dallastown was handed a pair of personnel blows because of injuries to key players. Seniors Da'Trail Albert and Brandon McGlynn are both sidelined indefinitely, with Albert recovering from a torn ACL and McGlynn dealing with post-concussion symptoms.
McGlynn averaged 15.1 points per game last season, while Albert pumped in 11.0 ppg.
"Da'Trail we knew was going to miss a chunk of the season coming in. We're still hoping to have him back by the end of the season," head coach Mike Grassel said on Wednesday, Dec. 13. "Brandon was kind of a prolonged thing from this fall and he's on the road to recovery, but the timetable is uncertain. Whenever we get him back, it'll be an added bonus."
Albert is expected back sometime late in the regular season, so the team is hoping to be postseason bound, so it can give him a chance to help the team during the playoffs. McGlynn, meanwhile, is going through vision therapy to clear the final hurdle of being completely symptom free. Grassel described McGlynn's current state as being in "concussion protocol."
Without McGlynn and Albert, along with the graduation of Donovan Catchings from last year's team, the Wildcats have had to fill key minutes with players taking on new roles. While McGlynn would typically play point guard and is a lock-down defender, that role has fallen on Braden Caldwell.
Grassel said it hasn't been as easy as being a two-for-two swap with two guys replacing Albert and McGlynn's minutes. Instead, it's been up to a number of players.
Along with Caldwell, sophomore Nike McGlynn, Brandon's younger brother, and Max Teyral have seen their roles and minutes increase dramatically. Devyn Baltimore and Kobe Green have also seen more minutes off the bench.
The absence of Brandon McGlynn and Albert is also felt on defense. A couple times in the team's 70-58 loss to Central York on Tuesday, lost assignments led to easy baskets for the Panthers.
Through four games, the Wildcats sit at 2-2, after defeating Elizabethtown on Wednesday night, 71-62.
Grassel is hoping to turn a negative (the absence of of two key injured players) into a positive.
"The added depth isn't going to hurt us in the long run," he said. "But, while they're out, we have to right the ship here and keep things going in a positive direction until we get them back."
Northeastern ranked statewide: Every preseason, and then updated periodically throughout the season, City of Basketball Love releases its high school boys' basketball state rankings.
Out of the six classes, only one York-Adams League team cracked the top 10 in its respective class and that was Northeastern. The Bobcats checked in at No. 7 in the Class 5-A rankings.
Northeastern is the reigning Y-A Division I, league tournament and District 3 5-A champ and made the state semifinals in 2016-17. The Bobcats graduated just two players from that team and return University at Albany signee Antonio Rizzuto, Fred Mulbah, Nate Wilson and Nate Eyster, as well as a deep bench.
Northeastern is off to a 3-0 start in 2017-18 after going 30-3 last year.
A few other area teams made the "Teams to Watch" list in four of the six classes. They are: Central York and Dallastown (6-A); Dover, New Oxford and York High (5-A); Delone Catholic and York Catholic (3-A); and York Country Day (1-A).
Peckmann breaks 100 fly record: Central York swimmer Alec Peckmann got his senior season off to an impressive on Tuesday, Dec. 12, by breaking the school record in the 100-yard butterfly.
Peckmann swam the event in 51.07 seconds and finished more than seven seconds clear of second place in the meet against Northern York. Peckmann also won the 100 breast and was part of the victorious 200 medley and 200 free relay teams, helping the Panthers to a 131-45 win over the Polar Bears.
The record-breaking swim for Peckmann was a continuation of a strong end to his junior season in March. That's when Peckmann finished seventh in the PIAA Class 3-A boys' 100 free event at the state competition in :46.28.
Patrick O'Neill also had a big day for the Central boys' team, taking first in the 200 and 500 free events and was also part of the victorious 200 and 400 free relay teams.
In the girls' meet, the Panthers beat Northern, 122-61. Callie Paff showed her versatility by winning the 100 back and 200 free events and was also the lead leg of the Panthers' winning 400 free relay team.
Spring Grove wrestling opens in dominating fashion: The Spring Grove wrestling team began its 2017-18 season with a convincing display on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Taking part in the Ephrata Duals, the Rockets rolled to a 5-0 record, registering at least 45 points in every match. Spring Grove defeated host Ephrata, 78-0, followed by a 58-21 win over Reading, a 58-18 win over Downingtown East, a 54-21 victory against Hempfield and 45-30 win against Lower Dauphin.
Senior Dalton Rohrbaugh showcased why he'll compete for NCAA Division I Lock Haven next year, going a perfect 5-0 with five pins at 126 pounds.
Anthony Hinson also recorded a perfect tournament, recording four wins by pin and receiving a forfeit in another bout at 160.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org