Junior-laden Northeastern boys' basketball team eyes York-Adams Division I three-peat
- Northeastern is the two-time defending York-Adams League Division I boys' basketball champion.
- The Bobcats are 6-1 to start this season, including a 3-1 mark in Y-A Division I action.
- The Bobcats are off to a fast start despite losing four starters from last year's team.
The biggest story in York-Adams League Division I boys' basketball this season has been York High.
The Bearcats are 6-0 on the young season and are beating teams by nearly 30 points a game. They're 4-0 in Y-A D-I action.
Still, as York High head coach Clovis Gallon Sr. said after the Bearcats’ blowout win over Central York on Tuesday, “they haven’t really accomplished anything yet.”
Meanwhile, two-time defending D-I champion Northeastern is 6-1 overall this season, including 3-1 in D-I play. The Bobcats' lone setback is a six-point loss to Dallastown.
While the Bearcats return most of their team from a season ago, the Bobcats had to replace four starters. Still, it's apparent that Jon Eyster’s Northeastern squad isn’t going to hand over the D-I crown to York High.
“We’re the defending champions, so I would say it has to be taken from us,” Northeastern's Nate Wilson said. “We’re not just going to give it up. We want to get the three-peat. We know all the guys at York High. There’s a lot of trash talking and everything, and we’re not just going to lie down and give it to them. When we play them on Jan. 4, ... we’re just going to be ready for it.”
Eyster said that while York High is playing well so far, he believes every D-I team, including his junior-laden squad, can lose on any given night.
“So far it looks like York is the class of the league,” Eyster said. “They are really talented, and they’re motivated. No one has played through the whole division yet, but there are a lot of teams who are able to win on any given night, and every team is capable of losing on any night.”
Young team: Northeastern was the most successful Y-A team last season, going 28-4, winning the D-I crown and the Y-A playoff title, advancing to the District 3 5-A semifinals and going further in the state playoffs than any other local team with a quarterfinal appearance.
The Bobcats, who made 62 more 3-pointers than any other team in the league a season ago, are replacing starters Antonio Rizzuto, Fred Mulbah, DJ Hamilton and Nathan Eyster. Rizzuto, who averaged 23.4 points a game, is now playing at Albany, while Mulbah is playing at Pitt-Johnstown.
Jon Eyster said last year’s senior class continued building a culture that he hopes will continue with this year’s junior class, which consists of Wilson, Andrew Brodbeck, Maurice Capo, Zech Sanderson and Quay Mulbah.
“When you have good players, you’re going to have success,” Jon Eyster said. “The chemistry and the culture that was built in the last couple of years, we’re trying to hope to continue the ‘one-more-pass’ culture, the ‘I’ll-take-a-charge’ culture, the ‘I’ll-set-a-screen’ culture. When you have really good players who are willing to do whatever it takes, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Wilson, who is the lone returning starter for the Bobcats, said his fellow juniors all played significant minutes off the bench last season.
“Last year, everybody coming off the bench (are) now juniors,” Wilson said. “We all have experience already. We have a full team this year. ... We had five guys in double digits when we scored 71 against South Western.”
Top players: Wilson and Brodbeck are scoring 15.7 and 14.9 points per game this season, and Jon Eyster said that’s a credit to their shooting ability.
“They both work very hard,” he said. “People who have invested time in their shooting are going to score points. Those two guys are really good shooters. They have good form, and they’ve taken a lot of reps. Guys who can shoot are hard to guard. That’s what those two guys are good at. They’re both just starting to scratch the surface.”
Northeastern, like most basketball teams in 2018, are nearly position-less. The Bobcats have several players who can slot in as guards or forwards.
“Most of our guys can play a lot of different positions,” Jon Eyster said. “They can both handle the point for us and guard guys inside, depending on how big they are. But most of all they’re basketball players. We don’t identify guards and forwards. We’re basketball players. We feel we’re better off the more guys we have that can play multiple positions.”
As a younger team, Jon Eyster said it’s important for him to find out in December and January who will be the team’s go-to players in February and beyond.
“We’re getting a lot of guys who are getting time,” Eyster said. “We count on a lot of different guys, which is good. That’s going to help us in the end. What our big test will be is when we’re in adversity and how we perform when we’re down. … That’s when we’ll see who our true leaders are and who is going to play well in crunch time.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.