Pressure mounts as districts near
The high school basketball season packs more than 20 regular-season games into a two-month window.
That doesn't mean, however, that each one isn't important.
To start, there are tip-off and holiday tournaments, where teams can capture some sort of hardware. Then there are the rivalry games, when each victory gives one team some bragging rights. Throughout it all, are the league games, the most important of all the regular-season games because they ultimately determine if you make the York-Adams League playoffs, which is the first stage of postseason play.
Now, with about two weeks to go in the regular season, there's another goal that sits in the back of each player's mind — the District 3 playoffs. It's the tournament that each team strives to take part in every year. When you get to this point in the season, whether you're inside the cut line of the latest power ratings, or just outside of it, every game carries that extra bit of pressure to make sure that you stay in good position.
So, here are how teams from the Y-A League and York County stand in the latest District 3 power ratings:
Class A: The only York County team that would take part in the 12-team Class A tournament is York Country Day. However, as the only undefeated Class A school remaining, the Greyhounds are in a prime spot to potentially win the entire thing, sitting at No. 1 in the ratings with a 12-0 record.
YCD looks to be York County's only shot in the Class A tournament, but a good one, at that.
Class AA: In this tournament, only 10 teams qualify.
However, right now, Y-A League teams would make up 30 percent of the field, with York Catholic sitting at No. 3 and Delone Catholic at No. 7. The Fighting Irish (11-4) are having a revival under first-year coach Blaine Claiborne, who was part of the program's state championship team in the early 1990s.
As for the Squires (7-9), if they can't somehow move up to at least No. 6, then they'll have to go through the play-in round to make it into the main, eight-team field. This spot isn't an unfamiliar one for Delone. The Squires knocked off the Fighting Irish in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game last year to make it into the tournament's main field.
Hanover is No. 5 in AA at 12-4.
Just on the outside in Class AA is Biglerville. The Canners are 8-9 on the year and actually have a much better record than 5-11 Annville-Cleona, but are on the wrong side of the projections right now because of the Dutchmen's stronger schedule. If Biglerville can get to .500 or better, wins might just trump a strong schedule.
Class AAA: In the second-largest class, a total of 18 teams will make the tournament, and if the district playoffs began today, four Y-A League teams would qualify.
Eastern York (12-3) has turned a lot of heads this season and right now sits at No. 6 for its efforts. Winning Division II might be tough, the way Northeastern is playing, so improving their seeding in the district tournament for a shot at a deep run and qualifying for the state tournament could be the real goal for the Golden Knights.
Two spots behind Eastern is Gettysburg, which sits at No. 8. The Warriors (10-5) are led by the dynamic duo of Marquise Camel and Max Lampe, who are combining to average nearly 28 points per game, almost half of their team's total scoring output.
Near the bottom of the ratings are West York and Dover. The Bulldogs (8-6), who haven't quite lived up to their preseason potential, sit at No. 14 in the power ratings. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 8-7 overall and sit at No. 16, just two spots clear of the final district spot.
Near the line, but on the wrong side of it, are both Susquehannock and York Suburban. The Warriors (5-9) sit at No. 22, while the Trojans are 6-11 and at No. 23. Both have a lot of work to do if they want to see the playoffs.
Class AAAA: In the largest class, 20 teams will qualify for the tournament.
Over the past two seasons, this has been owned by York High, winning it in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Now, the Bearcats (10-6) are the lowest seed of four Y-A League teams currently inside the top 20, sitting at No. 10.
Central York, which despite losing Sam Saxton and Charlie Gringrich from a year ago, are thriving. The Panthers are 14-2 overall, lead Y-A League Division I and sit atop the Class AAAA ratings.
But, nipping at their heels is fellow Division I foe, Spring Grove. The Rockets are 11-2, with their only losses coming against Central York by identical 53-50 scores. Spring Grove sits at No. 3 and is led by the highest-scoring duo in the Y-A League in Eli Brooks (28 ppg) and Darin Gordon (17 ppg).
Northeastern (13-1) is the fourth team from the league to hold down a spot in the Class AAAA field, sitting at No. 5. The Bobcats have dominated the Division II race in the Y-A League and their only loss was a road defeat to York High back on Dec. 23.
Class A: As in the boys' field, there is currently only one York County school which would qualify for the 12-team tournament and that is the Christian School of York.
The Crusaders (10-4) sit at No. 3 overall in the power ratings and will be looking to repeat their run to the Class A title game in 2014-15.
Class AA: Delone and York Catholic are currently on the right side of the power rating projections.
The Squirettes (12-3) are ranked second, while the Fighting Irish (12-4) are seeded fifth. York Catholic has won 10 straight District 3-AA titles, so regardless of where it enters the tournament, it'll be the obvious team to watch. Delone won at York Catholic in the teams' only regular-season meeting thus far.
Class AAA: Susquehannock and York Suburban are both 14-2 overall and are creating quite the race for the Y-A League Division II title this season. The two teams also represent two of the three teams from the league projected to be into the 18-team field.
The Warriors are rated fourth, while the Trojans sit at No. 6. The only other local school to join them in the top 18 is West York at No. 12. The Bulldogs are 9-5 overall.
Class AAAA: A total of four Y-A League schools project inside the top 20, led by 17-1 Red Lion, which is No. 2 overall.
Just behind the Lady Lions at No. 5 is Central York at 14-2 overall. New Oxford sits at No. 14 at 10-7.
The final team to project into the tournament at the moment is 9-7 York High, holding steady at No. 16. The interesting wrinkle with the Bearcats is that they haven't made the District 3 playoffs since 2000-01, so this would be quite the feat should York High continue its strong season.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org