The York High boys’ basketball team was one win away from a District 3 title last season, and the Bearcats think they’re poised to go even further this season.
York High returns four starters from last year’s squad that advanced to the second round of the PIAA Class 5-A playoffs, and head coach Clovis Gallon Sr. believes the Bearcats’ ceiling is as high as it’s ever been.
“Our goals are very high this year,” Gallon Sr. said at Winter Sports Media Day in November. “We want to win everything. We want to win the division. We want to win the league. We want to win the district title. We want to win the state title, which is something that’s never been done in school history. We think we have the parts to be able to compete and do those things.”
The Bearcats (17-11) finished fourth in York-Adams Division I last season behind Northeastern, Central York and New Oxford. With the fourth-place finish, York High didn’t qualify for the Y-A tournament, which Northeastern won.
The Bearcats, however, went on to win three straight games as a No. 10 seed in the District 3 tournament, including victories over New Oxford and Northeastern, to reach the title game against Milton Hershey, losing 69-62. York High then won a game in the PIAA tournament, a four-point victory over Holy Ghost Prep, before falling to Bonner-Prendergast in the second round.
Senior-laden squad: Gallon Sr. said the experience his junior-heavy squad gained last year will help the Bearcats make a postseason run this season.
“We were all juniors last year,” he said. “We’ll be senior heavy this year. We return a lot of experience. We expect to be able to build on that and take the next step.”
The Bearcats do lose their leading scorer from last year’s squad in Kyree Generett, who scored 21.1 points per game, good for second best in the league, to go along with 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Generett, a guard, is now a freshman at Kutztown University, playing about 13 minutes a game.
McClean, Gallon Jr. to lead the way: The four returning starters for York High are 6-foot, 5-inch wing Clovis Gallon Jr., 6-foot, 3-inch forward Marquise McClean, point guard Jaevon Woodyard and forward Seth Bernstein, who was York High’s quarterback in the fall.
McClean and Gallon Jr. and were the Bearcats’ second- and third-leading scorers last year, respectively. McClean scored 13.1 points and grabbed 6.7 rebounds a game, while Gallon Jr. tallied 10.5 points and 6.4 boards.
“I expect them both (Gallon Jr. and McClean) to take the next step forward and lead the team in (scoring),” Gallon Sr. said. “They’ll both be near the top of the team lead in rebounds as well.”
Woodyard led the team in assists last year with 2.7 per game and scored just more than 3 points a game.
“Javon Woodyard, he’s a good floor general,” McClean said. “He sets the table for us to score. We also have Edward Minter. He’s a high energy player. He’s real athletic. He cleans up, gets on the floor and moves the ball.”
Consistency is key: Gallon Sr., who said he’s been coaching most of the York High varsity players since they were in fourth grade, hopes the team will be more consistent this season.
“They understand the system. We just need to make sure that we’re consistent as a team,” Gallon Sr. said. “We’re pretty seasoned. The guys know what the expectations are. They’ve bought into the program. We just need to make sure we stay in tuned with our goals.”
Gallon Jr. said the senior class believes the only team that can beat the Bearcats are themselves.
“I don’t even think it’s about the other teams. It’s about ourselves,” he said. “We are playing against ourselves every game.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Division I: While York High looks poised for another postseason run, Northeastern (12-2, 28-4) was the most successful Y-A team last season.
The Bobcats claimed the D-I regular-season crown, won the Y-A tournament, advanced to the District 3 5-A semifinals and went further in the state playoffs than any other Y-A team with a quarterfinal appearance.
Northeastern, which made 62 more 3-pointers than any other team in the league, will have to replace four starters from last year’s squad, including Antonio Rizzuto, the league’s top scorer at 23.4 points per game. Rizzuto, now a freshman guard at the University at Albany, also led the league in 3-pointers with 102 — 26 more than any other player.
The Bobcats will also try to replace seniors Fred Mulbah, who scored 14.3 points per game and is now a freshman at Pitt-Johnstown, DJ Hamilton and Nathan Eyster. Nate Wilson is Northeastern’s lone returning starter.
Central York (10-4, 18-7) finished second in the division last season, but the Panthers didn’t enjoy postseason success. Central lost in the first round of the District 3 6-A playoffs to Dallastown. The Panthers lost leading scorer Garrett Markey (12.6 points per game) but return starters in Cade Pribula, a University of Delaware commit as a quarterback, Saahir Cornelius and Braden Richard.
New Oxford (9-5, 20-9) is coming off a third-place finish in D-I. New Oxford looks to replace John Wessel (14.8 points), who is now playing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Deriq Brown (10.5 points). New Oxford returns Abdul Janneh (10.3 points), Jaren Rex and Cameron Krebs.
Dallastown (7-7, 16-11) is looking to replace nine seniors who helped the Wildcats to a fifth-place finish in the District 3 6-A playoffs and a PIAA berth last season. Six of Dallastown’s seven highest scorers were seniors, including Braden Caldwell (14.1 points per game), Will Barton (12.5 points) and Brandon McGlynn (9.5 points). The Wildcats’ top returning players are junior Nike McGlynn, Kyle Richardson and Kobe Green.
Red Lion (6-8, 10-12) is in a similar spot as Dallastown, with the Lions losing four starters to graduation. The Lions look to replace Jamel Foster, the team’s top scorer a season ago at 13.9 points per game. The team’s only returning starter is 6-foot, 6-inch sophomore Davante Dennis.
South Western (2-12, 2-20) returns four starters from a team that finished second to last in the division last season. Derek Huff, Daunte Ogden, Aaron Fry and Garrett Wilson aim to make the Mustangs a competitor this season.
Spring Grove (1-13, 4-17) lost Drew Gordon (10.0 points) to graduation, but the Rockets hope to improve on its last-place season with returning starters Elijah Taylor (12.3 points), Madison Moore and Cole McKowen. Ryan Eisenhart is in his first year as the Rockets' head coach, replacing James Brooks.
Division II: Dover (12-0, 19-6) played about as well in the regular season as a team can, going undefeated in D-II play and winning the regular-season title. The Eagles, however, ended their season by losing three straight games and bowing out of the District 3 5-A playoffs early with losses to Garden Spot and Shippensburg.
Dover, the third-highest scoring team in the Y-A last year at 63.6 points per game, lost only one of its three double-digit scorers in Brady Bowman (11.5 points). The Eagles are primed for another successful season with top scorers Keith Davis (20.3 points) and Elijah Sutton (15.6 points) returning.
Kennard-Dale (9-3, 19-9) looks to replace four graduated starters from last year’s team that won a District 3 4-A playoff game and advanced to the state tournament. The biggest departure is Adam Freese (18.5 points), who is now a freshman guard at Stonehill College. Point guard Carter Day (12.5 points) is the Rams’ only returning starter.
West York (6-6, 9-13) is the opposite of K-D. The Bulldogs bring back four starters and only lost one starter in Dayvon Cortez (12.3 points). Alex McClellan (13.0 points), Corey Wise, Andrew LaManna and Gabe Mummert all enter this season with starting experience. Wise and LaManna were a QB-WR combo for the West York football team that made the District 3 playoffs this fall.
Gettysburg (6-6, 12-10) loses Cade Eckhart (11.0 points), but the Warriors bring back Charles Warren (11.8 points), Josh Topper, Quadir Copeland, David James and Zack Ketterman, all of whom saw significant minutes last season.
Eastern York (5-7, 9-13) will enter the 2018-19 season with many of the same players but with a new head coach. Justin Seitz leads a junior- and senior-heavy squad that includes returning starters Demonte Martin, Stephen Wisler, Bryce Henise and the coach's son, Trevor Seitz, who averaged 12 points per game last season. Trevor Seitz and Demonte Martin were a potent QB-WR combo for the Golden Knights’ football team this fall.
Susquehannock (3-9, 7-14) lost its only double-digit scorer in Hunter Sentz (13.0 points) to graduation. The Warriors' lone returning starter is Kenny Ryhne, who spent the fall as the football team’s quarterback.
York Suburban (1-11, 1-21) can only improve in the 2018-19 campaign and the Trojans hope their height can carry them. The Trojans sport a roster with eight players over 6-feet tall, including returning starters Luke Babinchak (6-3) and Aidan Hughley (6-5). Alex Fuhrman (6-6) and Alon Gorham (6-2), a transfer from York Country Day, are also expected to be in the starting lineup.
Division III: York Catholic (12-2, 15-9) was the only team from D-III to make the District 3 3-A playoffs last season, losing its first-round game to Lancaster Mennonite.
The Fighting Irish defense was the second best in the league, allowing only 47.6 points per game. The Irish look to replace eight seniors from last year’s squad, including D’Andre Davis (19.0 points) and Torrey Thomas (10.3 points).
Littlestown (12-2, 15-9) led D-III in scoring last season and returns all three of its double-digits scorers from a season ago — Logan Collins, who was third in the league with 20.5 points, Jayden Weishaar (10.6 points) and Jakob Lane (10.3 points).
York Tech (11-3, 14-9) also returns its main pieces from last year’s third-place squad. Terence Romey (17.6 points), Jahkwan Batty (10.1 points) and Jamal Jackson all come back as starters for the Spartans.
Delone Catholic (8-6. 10-12) will hope to get into the top three of the division this season with Evan Brady (19.6 points) leading the way. The Squires also return Andrew Shipley, Matt Rineman and Corbyn Keller, all of whom saw significant minutes a season ago. Brady Alexander, a double-digit scorer a year ago at 12.3 points per game, decided not to go out for basketball this season.
Biglerville (7-7, 11-11) brings back two of its three leading scorers in Gavin Parker (14.6 points) and Drew Riley (12.2 points). The Canners lost point guard Cody Shaffer (13.5 points) to graduation.
Hanover (3-11, 9-13) looks to improve on a three-win division season with Kwame Myers (11.2 points), Zyaire Myers and Andrew Caban as the Nighthawks’ main cogs.
Bermudian Springs (2-12, 2-20) returns senior starters Tyler Reinert, Tyler Sims, Tucker Byers and Cameron Campana from a squad that won only two games a season ago.
Fairfield (1-13, 8-14) lost its lone double-digit scorer, Darian Mort, to graduation. Mort led the team last season with 11.6 points a game.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org