League semifinal showdowns looming
Drama was hardly a factor in the quarterfinal round of the York-Adams League basketball playoffs.
Of the eight games contested, just one — Delone Catholic vs. York Suburban girls — finished with a margin of victory in single digits. The Squirettes' 41-36 victory over the Trojans was the exception in a weekend full of blow outs. There was a victory of 30-plus points, a couple 20-plus results and several that came in the teens. But, very little excitement down the stretch.
Those results showed that there seemed to be a divide between the top four teams and the rest of the pack on both the boys' and girls' side of the playoffs.
Now, as we get set for the league tournament semifinals, the match-ups become stiffer, and the blowout victories that lack late drama will likely go by the wayside.
Snow moves boys' games: Tuesday's snow, however, did force a change in the boys' semifinal schedule.
The boys' semifinals were originally set for Tuesday night.
Central York athletic director Marty Trimmer, the man in charge of the York-Adams basketball playoffs, said on Tuesday that the boys' semifinals will get pushed to Thursday night at Red Lion and the boys' championship game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at York College.
"We didn't think that was fair to do that to anybody, to have to play Wednesday and then Thursday without having a day of preparation for a championship game," Trimmer said on Monday.
The girls' semifinals will remain on Wednesday at Dallastown, followed by the girls' championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at York College.
Here are game capsules for the league semifinals:
Spring Grove (20-2) vs. Northeastern (21-1), Thursday at Red Lion, 6 p.m.: This might be the premier showdown out of the four semifinal games in the boys' and the girls' tournament.
The continuing rise of the Rockets from Y-A League afterthought to legit league and District 3-AAAA contender has them in position to add some hardware to the school's trophy case. Spring Grove dismantled Hanover in the quarterfinals, 61-44, behind a 24-6 third quarter and an absolutely incredible performance by Eli Brooks. The junior was one of two players on the Rockets to record a double-double in the game (Darin Gordon also had one), posting 25 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. He completely shut down the Nighthawks' Kyle Krout on defense, holding the league's second-leading scorer to just five points through three quarters and 10 points total.
However, Brooks and the entire Spring Grove team will need to be even better come Tuesday night when they face the Bobcats. In that Hanover win, Brooks scored the team's first 14 points while the rest of the team worked out the jitters. That can't happen against Northeastern, as evidenced by its blowout against York High. The Bobcats throttled the Bearcats, 76-47, on Friday night, avenging their only loss from earlier in the season.
If the Bobcats can get off to another fast start against Spring Grove, like they did against York High, it could be a treacherous, up-hill climb for the Rockets. And, oh yeah, one more tidbit on just how close these two teams are. Northeastern and the Rockets are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, in next week's District 3-AAAA tournament. Spring Grove head coach James Brooks, however, isn't quite looking ahead to the district playoffs yet, knowing how crucial this tournament is to his team's growth.
"I think it's a lot of close, competitive teams," he said following the Rockets' win vs. Hanover. "I think our league, if not the best league out there in District 3, it's going to be close, and it's just getting us ready to fight and see different styles of play."
Predicted winner: Northeastern.
Central York (19-2) vs. Eastern York (19-4), Thursday at Red Lion, 7:30 p.m.: Like most of the winners, the Panthers had very little trouble getting past West York in the quarterfinals.
Central held the Bulldogs to just 12 first-half points and 38 total in the 62-38 victory to advance to the semifinals.
Entering the year, the expectations for the Panthers weren't incredibly high. They had lost two of their top players when Sam Saxton graduated and Charlie Gingrich elected not to play his senior season. Well, they've already won a Division I title, are only two wins away from a league championship and will enter next week's District 3-AAAA tournament as the top seed.
Meanwhile, the Golden Knights also surpassed preseason expectations and, had it not been for a very strong Northeastern team in Division II, probably would've won the division title. Eastern primarily goes as senior leader Broguen Nicholas goes. He finished eighth in the league in scoring with 17.7 points per game, just behind Central's Jared Wagner. These two teams played once this season, all the way back in the second game of the season, with Central cruising to a 61-41 victory. That game will certainly be in the back of the Golden Knights' minds. Eastern has come a long way since that defeat, so it should be more competitive than the previous meeting.
Predicted winner: Central York.
Central York (21-2) vs. Susquehannock (21-2), Wednesday at Dallastown, 6 p.m.: This is a meeting of two teams that are very well acquainted with each other.
These two sides met twice this season, in just nine days. In both cases, it was the Panthers who came out on top, which means, yes, the Warriors' only two defeats have come to Central. The first meeting, on Dec. 21, was a 19-point victory for the Panthers, while the second one, on Dec. 30, in the championship game of a holiday tournament, was just a five-point victory for Central.
So, things were moving in the right direction for Susquehannock. One other factor that may help the Warriors may be the site. The first two games were both played at Central, while this one will be at Dallastown, a neutral court. Going into the year, many folks believed that the Panthers and Susquehannock were two of the top three teams in the league, but, the end goal for the Warriors isn't to be among the top teams, but to be the top team.
"We've looked at York County this year and we looked at Red Lion and Central and some people looked at Susquehannock as being the top three teams," Susquehannock head coach Dave Schreiner said. "Well, our goal is to be the top team, so that's really what the focus is."
Predicted winner: Central York.
Red Lion (21-2) vs. Delone Catholic (17-5), Wednesday at Dallastown, 7:30 p.m.: If there is any team best prepared for the battles that come with being in the semifinal round, it's the Squirettes.
Delone was the only team that was tested in the quarterfinal round. So, if this game comes down to the wire, that previous experience could be a potential X-factor.
Meanwhile, the Lions have only had four of their 21 wins decided by single digits, so close games for them have been few and far between. This game will also be a battle between the No. 2 scoring offense in the league (Delone) vs. the No. 2 scoring defense (Red Lion). The Squirettes are averaging 54.4 points per game, but came up way short of that number in their quarterfinal win over York Suburban. Red Lion is allowing just 33.9 points per game and surrendered just 27 in the quarterfinals against West York.
If this game turns into a shootout, look for that to favor Delone, while a defensive struggle could favor Red Lion.
Predicted winner: Red Lion.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org