The York-Adams League boys’ basketball tournament championship game features two teams that know each other very well.
York High, the Division I champion, and New Oxford, the No. 3 seed from D-I, will meet in the title game at 7 p.m. Friday at York College. The two squads faced off twice in the regular season, splitting the series.
In early January, the Colonials made their first seven 3-pointers to take a 32-10 lead and held off a fierce Bearcats comeback to win 79-73. Two weeks ago, the game couldn’t have been more different. York High won a 46-43 slugfest.
“Who knows what may happen in this next game?” said York High head coach Clovis Gallon Sr. “Maybe we’ll both score in the 80s and it goes to double overtime. Who knows? I just hope we come out with the win.”
New Oxford head coach Sean Bair is expecting the title game to be a mix of the two “weird” games.
“Friday will probably be a balance of the two,” he said. “The first game we shot the lights out and Clovis (Gallon Jr.) went for 41. The second game we held him to eight and we shot like garbage.”
New Oxford’s defense: New Oxford (18-5) owns the top-ranked defense in D-I, limiting teams to 47.3 points per game.
The Colonials’ defensive prowess has been on display in the Y-A tournament. They held Eastern York without a point for nine minutes at one point in the quarterfinals and then prevented Central from scoring a bucket for a nearly seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter in a 43-41 semifinal win.
Bair said the key for the Colonials is to contain Gallon Jr., who scored his 41 points in the first match-up on 12-of-14 shooting.
“It’ll come down to how we play on the defensive end,” Bair said. “We need to contain (Gallon Jr.) and force the other guys to beat us on the offensive end.”
One of those “other guys” is Dayvon Cortez, who has recently emerged for the Bearcats (19-3) off the bench as a consistent scorer. Cortez, a first-year player at York High after transferring from West York, has scored 17 points in each of the Bearcats’ first two playoff games, including Wednesday's 74-51 semifinal win vs. Littlestown.
“Every team causes a threat defensively, but I think we can score on any team in this league,” Cortez said. “We have so many scorers that it’s really hard for a team to stop us when we get going. When we get in a rhythm, we’re unstoppable.”
York High’s defense: Like Littlestown, Cortez said it’s important to not give New Oxford open looks from behind the 3-point line. When the then-No. 1-ranked Bearcats lost to the Colonials at New Oxford, they allowed a hot-shooting team to get up 20-plus points early and make 10 of 19 3-pointers in the game.
“We need to run them off the line,” Cortez said. “They love shooting the ball and they’re really good at it, so we have to try to take that away.”
While New Oxford is keying on Gallon Jr., who is fifth in the league in scoring, the Bearcats will hope to slow down New Oxford's Abdul Janneh, who scored 25-plus points in both match-ups.
McClean’s return: York High’s division title-deciding victory over New Oxford two weeks ago came without second-leading scorer Marquise McClean, who was out with a hip injury. He returned for the Y-A tournament and has scored 13 points in the last two games combined.
McClean, who is averaging 15.2 points a game, is more than just a scorer for the Bearcats, though. He grabbed several offensive rebounds in the quarterfinals and dished out a few assists in the semis.
Adams County confidence: The Colonials made history with its win over Central on Wednesday.
The victory was Bair’s first win over Central since he took over six years ago and it gave New Oxford a chance to win its first Y-A tournament crown. The Colonials’ presence at York College will mark the first time in 18 years an Adams County school is represented in the boys’ basketball title game.
“I’m excited,” Bair said. “That’s a huge opportunity for our school from a historic standpoint. Our guys on top of that are really looking forward to playing (York High), because we split with them in the regular season and played a really tough one for the outright (division) title earlier about a week and a half ago.”
"Chip on my shoulder:" Bair believes Adams County schools can be overlooked when it comes to Y-A decisions, and he said that gives him a “chip on my shoulder.”
“We’re playing at Red Lion for the second night. Red Lion is not even centrally located within York County” Bair said. “If you are a random basketball fan from Fairfield, you are driving an hour and 40 minutes to this game. I don’t like that. I’m not saying they have to have the games at Gettysburg High School, but West York makes a lot of sense. They have a great gym. I do feel like we’re the place fillers to fill out the rest of the league a little bit, and they don’t want to see teams from Adams County win.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.