STROHECKER: Unforgettable hoops season comes to close
- The Northeastern boys and Susquehannock and York Catholic girls each made it to the state semifinals this year.
- Six different York-Adams area programs achieved program-best seasons.
- Four York County schools -- the Northeastern and York Country Day boys and Susquehannock and York Catholic girls -- won district gold medals.
It's crazy to think that high school spring sports practices have already been underway for the better part of three weeks.
Tennis has already started playing matches, while the rest of the sports will start contesting games on Friday. Yet, it was only on Wednesday when we could finally turn our full attention to the spring season, after enjoying a long and historic winter sports season that was concluded Tuesday night, at least for York-Adams area teams.
With the final three teams left in the state basketball playoffs all losing this week, we can now officially look forward to what the spring will hold.
That doesn't mean, however, that we will soon forget a memorable winter sports season, in particular, on the basketball court.
It seemed like every step of the way in the postseason, York County programs were making some sort of history, whether for the program, or on a grander stage.
Here's a look back at what was an unforgettable basketball season.
State semifinals galore: Of the 13 Y-A League teams that made the state tournament, three of them advanced to the semifinal round.
The Northeastern boys and Susquehannock and York Catholic girls each came within one win of playing for a state championship, only to come up a win short. When a team gets to that point in the tournament, there comes a point when that team's players start to believe they can win the whole thing. The pride of simply making it to states is no longer enough.
Unfortunately, for all three local teams, none of them advanced to the championship game in their respective classes, with the Bobcats losing by seven on Monday in the boys' Class 5-A semis to Meadville, the Warriors losing by 15 on Tuesday night to Archbishop Wood in the girls' 5-A bracket and the Fighting Irish girls dropping a 21-point decision to Neumann-Goretti in 3-A.
Program firsts: To go along with those deep state runs by Northeastern, Susquehannock and York Catholic, some programs also experienced the best seasons in program history.
The Bobcat boys and Warrior girls both completed the best seasons in program history in terms of wins. In the process, they also captured some hardware that no other teams in their program's history had earned before.
In its first year playing in Division I, Northeastern won the division and then went on to claim the league and District 3 crowns, as well, both firsts in Bobcat boys' basketball history. When Northeastern's season ultimately came to a close Monday night, it did so with a 30-3 record, the first time the team ever reached 30 wins in a season, and the furthest the team has ever gone in states.
The Susquehannock girls also earned the program's first-ever district gold, winning the 5-A title over a strong Harrisburg team. The 26 wins were also a program-best, as was the berth in the state semifinals.
The Central York girls' team won the program's first two state tournament games ever, making it to the Class 6-A quarterfinals.
The Spring Grove boys also accomplished a similar feat. A year after qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in program history, the Rockets bettered last year's performance by winning two state games and making it to the quarterfinal round, also a first for the program.
Then there was the York Country Day boys' team. After winning the District 3 1-A title last year and making it to the second round of states, this year's team, made up of nearly the same exact roster, defended its district crown and went a step further in states, making it to the quarterfinals, capping the best year in program history.
District gold: As you can tell, a common theme with most of the teams mentioned was not just having tremendous winning seasons, but they did so by also earning trophies for their schools.
At the district level, a total of five York-Adams area schools made the District 3 championship games, bringing home four gold medals. The only reason there weren't five is because in the girls' 3-A game, York Catholic faced Delone Catholic, meaning that the local teams brought home the most possible district championships as they could, given the championship-game scenarios.
On the boys' side, York Country Day rolled to a second consecutive 1-A title, blowing past Lancaster County Christian in the final. Northeastern did the same in the 5-A gold medal game, using a huge fourth quarter to, not only erase Mechanicsburg's lead, but turn the game into a rout.
On the girls' side, Susquehannock got some heroics from Jaden Walker in the dying seconds, when she hit two free throws to break a deadlock with Harrisburg and give the Warriors their first-ever district crown. Then, in the game between the two Catholic school rivals, the Fighting Irish returned to their district title perch after a one-year hiatus, downing the Squirettes to win their 11th district championship in 12 seasons.
So much more happened this year within the league, including countless players reaching scoring plateaus. Several players surpassed 1,000 career points and Eli Brooks broke the Spring Grove scoring record and finished second all-time in the York County scoring books.
It truly was an unforgettable year and set the bar high once next season rolls around.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org