LANCASTER — Following a timeout in the waning seconds of the first half, No. 4 seed Lancaster County Christian re-entered the floor with six defenders.
That may have been wishful thinking on its part, because five didn’t seem to be enough to slow York Country Day. Even six might not have done the trick for LCC.
The Greyhounds rolled to a 60-32 triumph in a District 3-A boys' basketball semifinal basketball game Monday night at Manheim Township High School. The victory puts York Country Day (21-0) in the championship game Friday night at the Giant Center. The Greyhounds, who will make their first title appearance since 2002, will meet No. 10 seed Greenwood, a 45-35 winner over No. 3 seed West Shore Christian in the other semifinal. The title game is set to start at at 5 p.m.
This one never was in doubt. The Greyhounds led from the start, thanks to a 3-point basket from D.J. Hamilton 15 seconds into the game. They methodically built a double-digit advantage and led 17-5 after one quarter and 34-13 at halftime. Hamilton finished with 11 points, but teammate DeAireus Brown had 27, including 19 in the first half. YCD also clinched a state playoff berth.
“We’ve talked about going to the Giant Center all season, that was our main goal,” said Brown, who along with Hamilton, transferred to YCD from Northeastern. “That was our goal from Day One, and our second goal was to go to states, so the sky’s the limit right now.”
There would be no slow starts and no worries about the pressure of being the No. 1 seed this time for Greyhounds’ coach Corey Stiles, who knew his team put together an outstanding effort.
“We made an emphasis in practice to start fast, and we emphasized that you play in a game like you practice,” Stiles said. “And we know if we play like that for four quarters we’re tough to beat. We got out running and into transition and that’s what really did it for us tonight.
“They’re a good team. I never would have thought we would beat them by 30. I think we frustrated their shooters and didn’t let them get any open shots. This means a lot to the school. We had made the district tournament before, but we would either win one game and that would be it, or lose right away.”
Stiles said that a recent pre-tournament scrimmage against Hanover might have been a blessing in disguise, too.
“I was a little concerned about the No. 1 seed and our record,” Stiles said. “I was worried about how me might handle it, but in that scrimmage against Hanover we got waxed. So we said, ‘OK, maybe we’re not as good as we think’ and that really deflated us, but we had really good practices leading up to the start of the district tournament and we built our confidence back up. But that was big to go down to Hanover and having them manhandle us, because in the long run, it helped us.”
The young coach couldn’t have been more pleased with Brown’s effort.
“He’s incredible, what he does for us, offensively, defensively,” Stiles said. “He guards the best player. He gets a bunch of offensive rebounds, he can shoot the ball, he’s quick off the dribble … he’s just a match-up nightmare, but at the same time, you can’t forget about everyone else, because if it was just him, other teams could stack two or three guys against him.”
Certainly Lancaster County Christian coach Nate Long came away impressed.
“They’re very athletic,” he said. “We knew coming in we had to box out, had to control the tempo and take care of the ball, and we weren’t able to do any of the three. They’re a good team and I think they’ll continue on their winning ways. Their athleticism helps set them apart.
“In terms of states, I think they can do some damage. I don’t know how far, it all depends on the draw to be honest. They’re well-coached, they’re disciplined and they play very humbly. You never like to lose, but it’s hard to get mad against a team that plays with humility and plays all out like they do.”
Reach George Hammond at email@example.com.