York Country Day boys' basketball coach Corey Stiles gave his players about 36 hours to celebrate their PIAA Class A state tournament first-round victory on Friday night.
After that, however, it was back to work preparing for Tuesday's second-round contest against Phil-Mont Christian Academy.
Simply making the state tournament was a great accomplishment for the program, but competing, losing and having its season end after one game wasn't going to be satisfactory for the Greyhounds (23-0). The Greyhounds had much bigger goals than just being one-and-done. So while the victory was a nice start to its state tournament, that's all it was for YCD — a start.
"We went hard on Sunday, and usually, the day before a game, we do a walk-through," Stiles said. "But, knowing the importance of the game and how good Phil-Mont Christian is, we had another hard practice (Monday)."
Finally meeting their match: The Greyhounds' 51-42 victory over Sullivan County on Friday night was comfortable enough that they didn't have to sweat it out down the stretch, but it was still just the third time this year they won by only single digits. Obviously, YCD can't be expected to blow teams out in the state tournament like it did during the regular season. With each passing round, the competition will get stiffer. And, for the first time all year, the Greyhounds look to be going up against a team that might just be more talented than them.
The Falcons enter Tuesday's match-up as the District 1-A champions out of suburban Philadelphia, boasting an impressive 25-1 record. They are ranked No. 7 in the state in Class A by Pennlive.com, while YCD is No. 10. Phil-Mont advanced into the second round by way of a 75-53 win over Paul Robeson on Friday night and hasn't lost since Dec 10, in just its fourth game of the season.
All season long, YCD's speed and athleticism gave its inferior opponents all sorts of trouble. The Falcons' size, however, could be the biggest X-factor going into this one.
Phil-Mont boasts a lineup that has seven guys listed at 6 feet or taller. Of those seven, three come in taller than 6-foot-4, led by senior forward Sean Griffin, who's listed at 6-8. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds don't have a player of that size with equal ability to match up. However, what YCD does have is a core of players in D.J. Hamilton, Jordan Ray and DeAireus Brown, who can transition the ball from defense to offense fluidly, which could cause some problems for the bigger team.
"When you play big kids, you just run them and see if they can handle it," Stiles said about his team's game plan to counteract the Falcons' size. "I think that's our biggest thing, is getting them to run and then getting them into foul trouble. I think if we can do those two things, then they'll have to go more to their bench and their bench doesn't offer as much size as their starting lineup."
Overcoming nerves: Perhaps YCD's biggest obstacle leading up to Tuesday's game is not letting the moment get the most of them. Stiles admitted that the reason for his team's sluggish start in Friday's first-round game was because of nerves. As the game went on, however, his team got more and more comfortable with the situation.
Pre-game jitters are again to be expected, especially as each game carries more importance. But, after going through a season in which the Greyhounds played against teams with significantly less talent than them, they now have the chance to go up against a team with similar talent.
"Hearing that they have (NCAA) Division II kids, college players, I think that really jacks up our energy and hypes us up," Stiles said. "And really, to go out and prove to everyone that we can play with some of the best teams in the state in single-A."
Tuesday night's game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip at Garden Spot High School.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.