STROHECKER: Opening weekend of winter sports is packed

Patrick Strohecker
  • The 2016-2017 high school sports season starts Friday night.
  • The upcoming weekend is packed with basketball, wrestling and swimming action.
  • The premier local event may be York High's boys' basketball tournament.

If it's felt like there's been a lull on the York County high school sports scene over the past couple of weeks, that's because there has been.

Spring Grove senior Eli Brooks was held to 16 points in his final high school game. He finished his career with 2,426 points, second most in York County history. He is one of six finalists for the Mr. Pennsylvania Basketball Award.

It's been more than two weeks since the last York-Adams League high school sports team played its final game in the fall sports season, creating a sizable layoff until winter sports begin. This weekend, however, will put an end to that hiatus.

This weekend is the official start to the winter sports season and we get right into the swing of things. We're being handed a heavy dose of tip-off basketball tournaments, wrestling meets and swimming invitationals to welcome in the winter sports season.

Boys' basketball: This weekend, nearly every one of the 23 Y-A League boys' basketball teams will be in action. While most will take part in tip-off events, a few others will play regular non-league games.

Among the must-see tip-off tournaments on the boys' side, you have to start with York High's Gettle and Veltri Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday and Sunday. It boasts a very strong field. Along with the Bearcats, the other three teams taking part are South Philadelphia, Williamsport and Reading. When you talk about the Black Knights, the first name that comes to mind is the top senior recruit in the state, Lonnie Walker IV. Walker is a University of Miami commit who single-handedly helped Reading pull away from Central York in the District 3 Class 4-A championship game a season ago. In Saturday's openers, York High faces South Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m., and Williamsport takes on Reading at 6 p.m.

If you want to check out York County's own Division I recruit, then you'll need to head north on I-83 to the Lower Dauphin Tip-Off Tournament. That's where Michigan-bound Eli Brooks and Spring Grove will open their season on Friday and Saturday nights, beginning with a game against the tournament-host Falcons at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

If you want to stay in York County on Friday night, then the best spot to be might just be Northeastern High School. The Northeastern Tip-Off Tournament will feature three Y-A League teams, with the Bobcats, Eastern York and Delone Catholic all taking part. Along with those three will be a non-league foe, but a York County school, in Northern York. The Golden Knights, coming off a runner-up finish in District 3 Class 3-A last year, will face the Squires, while Northeastern will face the Polar Bears.

In non-tournament play, York Catholic will face Trinity on Saturday night, a battle between two strong District 3 parochial schools, while Dallastown will travel to York Suburban in an early-season showdown of Y-A League foes.

York Catholic's Kate Bauhof led the Y-A League in scoring as a sophomore last season and now gets set for her junior year when the Fighting Irish open play against Trinity on Saturday.

Girls' basketball: On the girls' side, the New Oxford Tip-Off Tournament will showcase four Y-A League teams, with the host Colonials welcoming Gettysburg, York Suburban and Bermudian Springs.

Red Lion will host a tournament of its own and it will mark the debut of new head coach Bill Novak, who is taking over after longtime head man Don Dimoff resigned in the offseason. The Lions are coming off a season in which they went 25-5 and won the league tournament. Manheim Township, Red Land and Lebanon are also in the event. Red Lion opens with Lebanon on Friday.

Susquehannock will get an early test in the Elizabethtown Tip-Off Tournament when it faces J.P. McCaskey. The Red Tornado were an above-.500 team last season, so it'll be a good measuring stick to see where the Warriors are at coming into the year after going a perfect 14-0 in Y-A Division II play last season and 21-4 overall.

Like its male counterparts, the York Catholic girls will also take on Trinity in a non-league contest on Saturday night, prior to the boys' game. The Fighting Irish are entering their first season in more than a decade when they're not the reigning District 3 champions. Still, they should have a strong team, led by standout junior Kate Bauhof.

Wrestling: This weekend will also be a chance to check out some of the local wrestling talent on display against other District 3 schools.

Spring Grove's Dalton Rohrbaugh won the state bronze medal at 106 pounds as a sophomore last year after wrestling the entire year at 113. He's learned to stick to a stricter diet to help him compete at a higher level.

Perennial Division III champion Bermudian Springs will take part in a two-day tournament on Friday and Saturday at Cumberland Valley, with Dover also in attendance. The real treat will be when the host Eagles take on the Adams County Eagles in what should be a fun match.

Dallastown, which is expecting bigger things in Division I this year, will travel across the river into Lancaster to take part in the Solanco Tournament. The Wildcats have several seniors on their team with legit shots to do well in districts this season, with Friday night their first test toward that goal. Delone Catholic will also be competing in the tournament.

York County's premier program, Spring Grove, won't get started until Saturday, when it takes part in the Ephrata Duals, along with Hanover and Biglerville. The Rockets return the state bronze medal winner at 106 pounds from last year in junior Dalton Rohrbaugh, along with a stacked lineup in all 14 weight classes. Rohrbaugh is expected to wrestle at 120 this season.

Two-time reigning Division II champ Kennard-Dale will travel to suburban Philadelphia to take on La Salle High School College at 9 a.m. This begins the Tad Harbet regime for the program, after longtime head coach Mike Balestrini stepped down following last season.

Swimming: Local phenom Courtney Harnish will swim for West York for the first time since her freshman year when she dives into the pool for the Dover Invitational on Saturday. The senior is committed to the University of Georgia and is the top-rated female swimming recruit in the nation for the Class of 2017 and swam in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials over the summer. The Bulldogs will also be joined at the event by host Dover and Red Lion.

West York senior Courtney Harnish won the PIAA Class 2-A 200 freestyle on Thursday by nearly six seconds.

York Suburban will open its season with a meet at Northern York on Saturday, while Dallastown will travel to Cumberland Valley on Friday evening.

It'll be an action-packed weekend of high school athletics for the area, so, whatever grabs your attention, go out and watch.

The lull of the past few weeks will soon be over. Enjoy the action.

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