York-Adams League big picture: Hoops teams making most of break before county tournament
The local high school basketball season is always a two-month sprint, as teams cram 22-game schedules into a period of roughly nine weeks. But the dust has almost entirely settled, and only scattered contests remain before the postseason tips off.
The York-Adams League tournament begins this weekend, with boys’ action starting Friday night and the girls following on Saturday. County semifinals are set for next Tuesday and Wednesday, with the boys’ final next Thursday and girls’ final next Friday.
Several squads wrapped up their regular seasons Friday, which would give them a full week off before the tournament starts. For Central York’s boys, who clinched the outright Division I title that night with a 76-60 win over Northeastern, the seven-day layoff will equal the longest of the season. Panthers coach Jeff Hoke says such a break allows his team to focus on itself at practice rather than always prepare for the next game.
“We have a lot to work on,” Hoke said Friday. “We talk about, within the season, how do we mesh as a team, but when you don’t have practice, it’s hard to do it on the fly. So my challenge and our challenge as a coaching staff (is), to put them in the best position to win, we have to work on a lot of individual stuff and team stuff … so we love having a couple practices in a row.”
While the tournament brackets have not been officially released, the matchups appear to be set on the boys’ side. Central York will battle Susquehannock, the third-place finisher in Division II, in Friday’s quarterfinals. On the same side of the bracket, D-III co-champion Littlestown has announced it will take on D-II runner-up Eastern York, meaning the Thunderbolts won a coin toss with York Catholic after splitting the title with the Irish.
York High has secured second place in D-I and will battle York Catholic at 6 p.m. Friday at West York, with Central York-Susquehannock to follow. Littlestown and Eastern York have the early tipoff at Red Lion, with D-II champion West York battling Dallastown at 7:30. The Wildcats have a game against York High on Tuesday but would hold the tiebreaker over Red Lion even with a loss in that contest.
Hoke labeled the tournament as “wide-open” and knows his team, while it may be favored as the D-I champ, won’t be able to cruise past anyone. That’s what makes this time of year special.
There are a couple more dominoes left to fall on the girls’ side Monday night, as Delone Catholic looks to clinch an outright Division III title at York Catholic and Dallastown hopes to grab the second seed from D-I with a win at South Western. Should those teams win, the matchups would be Central York vs. York Suburban; Delone Catholic vs. Eastern York; Dallastown vs. York Catholic; and Northeastern vs. Red Lion.
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District lookahead: Teams that make the league finals will have a quick turnaround before the PIAA District 3 tournament, which begins Feb. 20 and 21. League tournament games will not count toward power rankings, so most teams are out of opportunities to help or hurt themselves. But a few have big games remaining, while others will do plenty of scoreboard watching.
Fairfield’s girls have endured a long postseason drought but currently occupy the third of four playoff spots in Class 2A. The Green Knights are 8-12 overall but 7-1 in non-division contests with two more coming this week. They host Class 1A’s Harrisburg Academy this Wednesday and District 5’s Forbes Road on Friday, with one win likely to be enough.
Both of Dallastown’s teams are currently 11th place in Class 6A, where 12 teams make districts. Either would likely be safe with a win, although the boys will have a tough test against No. 5-ranked York High on Tuesday. Several teams are lingering around the 6A boys’ cutline, including Red Lion, which ranks 14th with no games left but could sneak in should others — such as Dallastown, No. 12 Ephrata or No. 13 JP McCaskey — take a stumble.
Kennard-Dale’s boys have moved up to No. 8 in Class 4A, inside the magic number of 10. The Rams played their last game Friday, as did Bermudian Springs’ girls, who sit 10th. The Eagles may have the most stressful week of anyone in the league, as ELCO and Fleetwood are close behind in the rankings and still have games to play.
No York-Adams League teams advanced to the PIAA state championships through a daunting District 3, although two teams came just one win away.
Biglerville, the No. 8-seed in the Class 2A bracket, reached the third-place match Saturday at Cumberland Valley but fell 44-18 to fourth-seeded Bishop McDevitt. Spring Grove, seeded No. 9 in Class 3A, reached the consolation semifinals in its home gym Thursday night before losing 36-25 against No. 2-seed Wilson.
The district sent four teams in 3A and three in 2A to the state team tournament, which begins this week. Top-seeded Central Dauphin and Berks Catholic captured district titles in their respective classes.
There’s also still an individual postseason for local wrestlers to prepare for, which is why Saturday featured multiple events outside of the district tournament. Eastern York, knocked out of the 2A bracket by Biglerville on Wednesday, hosted the Eastern York Duals on Saturday and went 3-1 at the five-team event. York Tech went 0-4, including a 37-28 loss to the Golden Knights.
Three YAIAA squads competed at the Hershey Duals — Littlestown placed fourth in the eight-team bracket, Kennard-Dale finished fifth and Dover took seventh. The Thunderbolts beat Penn Manor in the opening round before dropping their final two meets. The Rams lost 32-24 to runner-up Tulpehocken before winning twice to take fifth. The Eagles fell to eventual champion Milton Hershey in the first round and suffered a narrow 25-24 defeat to Penn Manor in the consolation bracket before closing their regular season with a 39-24 win over Susquehanna Township.
The individual section championships begin Saturday, Feb. 18, in Class 2A and Friday, Feb. 24, in Class 3A. The latter tournament will be contested over two days.
NO ROOM TO SPARE
A spirited YAIAA bowling season came to a close last week, with reigning PIAA state champion Central York and runner-up Spring Grove sharing the title with 10-2 league records. The Rockets beat the Panthers in both head-to-head matchups this winter but lost twice to York Tech, which had a chance to make it a three-way tie at the top before falling to Dallastown last Thursday.
The Spartans’ win Friday over Kennard-Dale brought them to 9-3 in the league. Dallastown finished fourth at 7-5. Kennard-Dale, New Oxford and Red Lion rounded out the standings.
The District 3 individual tournament is set for Saturday, Feb. 25, and six bowlers from the York-Adams League will compete in a field of 40. They’ll roll five games each, with the top six advancing to a single-elimination tournament. The Eastern PA Regional Championships will be held in early March, with the state championships to follow in mid-March.
THE BIG SPLASH
Division swimming titles have been handed out — the Dallastown and Susquehannock boys remain atop Divisions I and II, respectively, while Central York and South Western shared the girls’ D-I title and York Suburban’s girls won D-II outright. All but one of those championships were clinched last Tuesday, while Susquehannock beat Dover for the boys’ crown Thursday.
Now the entire league is set to converge at Central York for this week’s York-Adams swimming and diving championships. The three-day extravaganza starts with diving on Thursday, then continues with swimming sessions Friday and Saturday.
A handful of champions from the 2022 league meet will be looking for repeats, including Susquehannock senior Jacob Wade and Dallastown junior Julia Havice, both of whom won two events last year.
West York’s Taelyn Thomas will look to defend her girls’ diving title, while the boys’ field won’t have to contend with three-time district champion Stephen Barlett (Northeastern) or reigning 2A district champ Max Pflieger (Susquehannock).