BASKETBALL

York-Adams League boys' basketball preview: Capsules for each team

The league is loaded with returning talent, which should make for compelling races in each division.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

The York-Adams League boys’ basketball season tips off Friday with a slew of opening-weekend tournaments. After what many believed was a down year throughout the association, the majority of teams across all three divisions bring back key contributors and will take the floor with high hopes.

Last season, the races in Divisions I and II had little drama at the top but a sizable pack in the middle, while Division III was a three-team race. This year could feature at least two or three teams vying for the top spot at each level, with several squads capable of making strong playoff runs.

West York Head Coach Garrett Bull takes down the net in celebration of a 56-45 title win over Eastern York during YAIAA boys' championship basketball action at York County School of Technology in York Township, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. West York would win the game 56-45. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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From first place to last place, from teams with five returning starters to teams with none, here’s a capsule look at everyone in the league as the 2022-23 campaign begins.

DIVISION I

Red Lion (18-6, 13-1): Head coach Steve Schmehl enters his 16th season, but this will be a new-look Lions team without Division I Co-Player of the Year Evan Watt and all-stars Masen Urey and Sammy Vaught. The lone returning starter is 6-foot-3 junior wing Joe Sedora; he’ll be flanked by a core of players who will be stepping into the largest roles of their careers. It’ll also be a smaller group with the 6-foot-7 Urey no longer in the lane.

Northeastern's Chase Kloster takes the ball to the basket during YAIAA boys' semifinal action against West York at York County School of Technology in York Township, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Northeastern (16-13, 9-5): The Bobcats have big shoes to fill with D-I Co-Player of the Year Karron Mallory out of eligibility (he graduates in 2023 but has already played four high school seasons). Veteran coach Jon Eyster will need 6-foot-5 forward Chase Kloster to lead the way, and the senior certainly has the talent to do so. Northeastern was reclassified to Class 6A this season and forced to alter its non-league schedule as a result.

Central York (11-11, 7-7): Last year’s Panthers were 10-2 with 6-foot-7 Greg Guidinger in the lineup and 1-9 without him after he suffered an injury on opening night. Now he’s back for his junior season, and the Panthers also added 6-foot-8 sophomore Ben Rill, who moved back to York after playing at Westtown School in West Chester. Both bigs have already garnered NCAA Division I interest. The team also returns two starting guards in Ben Natal and Ethan Dodson.

Dallastown (9-14, 7-7): Plenty of pieces are back for the Wildcats, headlined by first team all-star guard D.J. Smith and 6-foot-4 forward Conner Barto (the division’s reigning POY in baseball). Pitt football commit Kenny Johnson was new to basketball last year but showed his potential on the hardwood. Maliki Chambers and Owen Strouse are also back, giving this team the depth it will need to stand out.

York High (8-14, 6-8): Last year’s Bearcats didn’t have a single returning varsity player, and their inexperience surely played a role in a slew of narrow defeats. But four starters return for this year’s group, including first team all-star Jacere Vega and honorable mentions Daveyon Lydner and Juelz Tucker. Head coach Clovis Gallon has especially high hopes for Lydner, who averaged 12 points as a freshman last year. York High has a history of success and the talent to recapture that glory this season.

South Western (8-13, 5-9): Like Northeastern, the Mustangs moved up to Class 6A this season. Head coach Chris Sager made strength and conditioning a point of emphasis this offseason, pointing out that South Western has often been unable to physically match the bigger schools. This isn’t a big team, but it returns senior guards Seth Sager, Aidan Littleton and Max Wisensale, among others.

Spring Grove (6-15, 4-10): Coach Ryan Eisenhart believes the Rockets “turned a corner” last year. The team was as competitive as it had been in years, handing Red Lion its lone division loss and coming a few bounces away from perhaps making the York-Adams League tournament. Senior Ethan Glass is the headliner, and second-leading scorer Avin Myers also returns.

New Oxford went 5-9 in Division I last season (8-14 overall) but dropped down to Division II after Gettysburg left the York-Adams League. Let’s move there now.

Susquehannock's Chase Robert, left, takes the ball to the basket while West York's Braedyn Detz defends during basketball action at Susquehannock High School in Shrewsbury Township, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. West York would win the game 59-39. Dawn J. Sagert photo

DIVISION II

West York (24-5, 11-1): Head coach Garrett Bull’s team brings back only two starters from last year’s league tournament champions and loses all-stars Jaden Walker, A.J. Williams and Ja’Vair Powell. But don’t expect a big step back from the Bulldogs. Starting guards David McGladrie and Braedyn Detz are back, as is Mark Walker. And 6-foot-5 center Jovan DeShields will man the middle. West York lost in the district semifinals and PIAA Class 5A first round last year, and the veterans are eager to go even further.

Eastern York (16-11, 7-5): The Golden Knights return 11 players from last year’s league tournament runner-up, including 6-foot-4 Austin Bausman and 6-foot-6 Carter Wamsley. Bausman averaged 18.3 points and 5.9 rebounds last year and is approaching the 1,000-point milestone for his career. Wamsley averaged 12 and 10 as a freshman. Head coach Justin Seitz’s team has size, shooting and continuity, which is certainly a strong recipe for success.

Susquehannock (17-9, 6-6): After Jalen Franklin led the Warriors to the state tournament for the first time in 16 years, Susquehannock finds itself looking to replace the D-II POY’s staggering production (22.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 3.8 spg). That’ll start with younger brother Josh Franklin, who averaged 10 points, six rebounds and four assists as a sophomore last season. New coach Seth Leonard will need a handful of players to take on bigger roles if Susquehannock is to maintain its success.

Kennard-Dale (9-13, 6-6): The Rams bring back all five starters, including three division all-stars — forward Koy Swanson and guards Zach Orwig and Levi Sharnetzka. Swanson, a senior committed to Maryland for baseball, averaged 11 points and nine boards last season. Orwig, Sharnetzka, Garrett McCleary, Dylan Logue and Brock Morris are all 6 feet and under, but they give Kennard-Dale coach Andrew Stiffler an athletic nucleus.

York Suburban (8-13, 5-7): In a division full of returning talent, the Trojans are somewhat of an outlier, as their only returning starter is sophomore forward Kai Stryhn. With first team all-star Avant Sweeney not listed on York Suburban’s online roster, the majority of coach Mitch Kemp’s roster will be unproven. The Trojans will need to find their cohesiveness quickly if they want to make a splash.

Dover (3-18, 1-11): It’ll be a refresh of sorts for the Eagles, who return only one starter from last season. Jakob Smyser, a 6-foot wing, led Dover with 12 points per game and returns for his third year in the lineup. His younger brother Thomas, a football all-star this season, takes over at point guard as a junior. And the younger members of the team have played AAU ball together for several years.

New Oxford: The Colonials will be playing smaller schools after dropping down, but they know the talent in D-II can’t be taken lightly. Head coach Nate Myers has a small team with two returning starters — guards Brennan Holmes and Nicolas Calvo-Peres — but will lean on a slew of football stars to add speed and physicality. 

York Catholic vs. Troy during PIAA boys' first round basketball action at York Catholic High School in York City, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. York Catholic would win the game 70-43. Dawn J. Sagert photo

DIVISION III

York Catholic (18-9, 13-1): The Fighting Irish will have five senior starters, all of whom were part of last year’s division championship and district finals team. Senior wing Luke Forjan is the reigning D-III Player of the Year, the only such honoree on either the boys’ or girls’ side to return this season. His twin brother John and fellow seniors Brady Walker, Levan McFadden and Quinn Brennan give York Catholic a top five all between 6 feet and 6-2. None of those players scored in double digits in 2021-22 while Forjan averaged 22.1 points per game. With a little more depth and balance, the sky's the limit.

Littlestown (19-9, 12-2): The only York-Adams squad to have three first team all-stars last year brings all three back, as well as the rest of their rotation. Senior Jake Bosley, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last year; 6-8 junior Christopher Meakin added 16.2 and 10, while 6-2 junior Zyan Herr tallied 14 points a night. Another 6-4 guard, senior Nate Thomas, gives the Thunderbolts one of the biggest teams in the area. 

Delone Catholic (17-8, 11-3): After leading the Squires to the state tournament last season, first team all-star Camdyn Keller and second-teamer Bryson Kopp are back as headliners. So is honorable mention Gage Zimmerman, as well as fellow football running back Brady Dettinburn. Head coach Brandon Staub’s team looks to replace starters Coltyn Keller and Asher Rudolph in the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively.

Fairfield (12-11, 6-8): The Green Knights return no starters from last year’s district playoff participant; senior forward Andrew Koons, the headliner among returners, averaged just 3 points per game last year. The biggest loss is 6-foot-4 forward Eric Ball (17 ppg), and it remains to be seen if Fairfield’s next wave can rise as high as the last.

Bermudian Springs (8-14, 6-8): Head coach Jared Nace’s Eagles lose Ethan Beachy (17.3 ppg) but return five of their top seven from a season ago, including all-star honorable mention Tyson Carpenter. He’s part of a hefty junior class that includes Gabe Kline, Austin Reinert and Ethan Young. Time will tell if that experience helps Bermudian Springs catch up to the top three.

York Tech (5-17, 4-11): The Spartans, who went from two wins in 2020-21 to five last year, have four returning starters as they look to compete more consistently. Ethan Shimmel, a 6-foot-4 forward, was an all-star honorable mention last winter. Fellow forward Anthony Torres already had a breakout season on the football field — his 1,933 rushing yards smashed the school record — and Michael Gladney returns at point guard.

Hanover (5-17, 3-11): First-year coach Kyle Krout, a former star for the Nighthawks, inherits a team that was inexperienced and inconsistent last year but returns three starters. Senior Chase Roberts, who broke the league’s football career passing record this fall, is the top returning scorer, and 6-foot-5 junior Ethan Killinger figures to anchor the frontcourt.

Biglerville (3-19, 1-13): The Canners have three returning starters — Christian Shaffer, Caden Althoff and Cam Tyson — but lose Eli Weigle, who averaged 14 points on a team that scored only 34 per game last season. This will be another veteran team with seniors aiming to go out on a high note.