With all the fanfare surrounding the inaugural night of West York's new gym, Senior Night and a chance for the boys' basketball team to clinch a York-Adams League playoff berth, there wasn't going to be any problem getting the Bulldogs pumped for Monday's game.
The concern was channeling that excitement in a positive manner, rather than having the West York players getting over-hyped and having that negatively impact the team.
That needn't have been a concern.
The Bulldogs raced out to a 10-0 start against Gettysburg, scored 17 of the game's opening 20 points and ran away with the 68-44 victory, earning a bid into the league playoffs.
"All kinds of distractions that we could've let get to us, and I was proud of us. We really played focused basketball tonight," West York head coach Bill Ackerman said. "...I'd rather have to talk them down off a ledge than try to bring them up on one, so I wasn't too concerned about that."
Before the Warriors (7-7 Division II, 12-8 overall) could even get into an offensive rhythm, they were down big. By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs (9-4 Division II, 12-6 overall) led 25-8 and were just getting going.
McCauley hits milestone: West York continued its hot shooting into the second quarter, scoring five of the quarter's first seven points to extend its lead to 30-10, using a steady combination of sharp shooting from outside and pounding the ball inside, causing all sorts of foul trouble for Gettysburg. Early in the second quarter, the Warriors were forced to sit one of their top three scorers, Ravaughn Dillard, for the final six minutes of the first half after he picked up four quick fouls. That gave senior Darian McCauley an even bigger advantage in the game, scoring 19 points in the opening half, including reaching 1,000 career points at the 3-minute, 22-second mark of the second quarter.
"I knew I was kind of close because my dad and I were keeping tabs on it," McCauley said. "When I hit it, I heard the buzzer go off and I wasn't sure why. ... But, it feels awesome, and to do it in this gym, in the first game of the new gym and have everyone out here for it, it's awesome."
By the time the first half ended, the Bulldogs were comfortably leading 40-21, shooting 50 percent from the field and knocking down five 3-pointers in the opening 16 minutes. With the sizable advantage, the next test for West York was going to be backing up the strong first half with an even better second one and not allowing Gettysburg to make any sort of run.
"We said, 'Now is your adversity,'" Ackerman said he told his team during halftime. "'You had a great half, now can you wipe it out and do it again?'"
For the most part, the Bulldogs did. While the Warriors did come out to open the second half by knocking down four of their first five shots — all 3-pointers — but they still couldn't slow down the West York offense.
Gettysburg got the Bulldogs lead down to as little as 15 in the third quarter, but that was all the closer it would get. After starting off red-hot to open the third quarter, the Warriors went cold, only scoring two points in the final four minutes of the third quarter, sparking a 7-2 West York run that helped it open up a 23-point lead after three quarters. The frustration for Gettysburg showed when it picked up two technical fouls in one sequence, one for shoving a player after the whistle and the other for a player coming off the bench.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Ackerman was already removing his starters, with all of them coming out with just more than two minutes to play in the game. McCauley led all scorers with 25 points, knocking down 8 of 16 field goals and 6 of 7 free throws, to go along with eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block. Josh Bailey added 14 points, including three 3-pointers, and Ian Lalic went 6 of 7 from the field for 12 points.
Marquise Camel finished with 15 points for the Warriors. The team's second-leading scorer, Max Lampe, was held to just seven points on 2 of 7 shooting on the night.
The night will certainly go down as a memorable one in the gym's history, but more importantly for the Bulldogs, they booked their ticket to the league playoffs, which begin on Friday night.
"It feels good," Ackerman said about clinching a league playoff berth. "It was a goal to get there and we earned it, certainly, tonight."
Dover 57, South Western 48: At South Western, Najah Fink led all scorers with 24 points to help the Eagles. Jerry O’Neal added 11 points. Brock Geiman’s 16 points paced the hosts.
Red Lion 55, Conrad Weiser 32: At Red Lion, Gary Hunt knocked down a trio of 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 15 points in the Lions’ victory.
Spring Grove 54, Greencastle-Antrim 40: At Spring Grove, Eli Brooks' 23 points paced the Rockets. Teammate Darin Gordon knocked in 11 points. Spring Grove improved to 19-2 overall.
Kennard-Dale 69, York Tech 61: At Fawn Grove, Kyle Wooldridge poured in 27 points to lead the Rams. Austin Jenkins (12), Adam Freese (11) and Jonathan Osborne (10) also hit double digits for the winners. Ty Brown led Tech with 24 points, followed by Luis DeLeon (16) and Kahleik Savery (14).
York Catholic 99, Fairfield 41: At Fairfield, the Irish nearly hit the century mark, led by double-digit efforts from Melik Martin (19), Steven Nigro (16), Joe Bauhof (12), D'Andre Davis (11) and Zach Echevaria (10). York Catholic improved to 17-4 overall and finished a perfect 14-0 in York-Adams Division III.
York Country Day 77, Christian School of York 33: At York Country Day, DeAireus Brown led the Greyhounds with 19 points. D.J. Hamilton scored 15 points for YCD, while Jordan Ray and Greg Glatfelter each knocked in 13. For the Crusaders, Anthony Torreullas scored a team high 18 points. YCD improved to 16-0.
York Catholic 57, Dallastown 55 (OT): At Dallastown, the Wildcats stormed back in the second half, but fell just short in overtime in an effort to pull off the non-league upset. Dallastown trailed 27-14 at halftime, but used a 31-18 second-half surge to force a 45-45 tie at the end of regulation. The Irish, however, had a 12-10 edge in OT to secure the win. The game featured 64 foul shots. York Catholic was 21 for 33, while Dallastown was 21 for 31. Kate Bauhof had 26 points to lead the Irish, including four 3-pointers. Danielle Desseyn added 12 points. Sabrina Stough and Sam Miller each had 11 points for Dallastown. York Catholic improved to 18-4. Dallastown fell to 4-16. The loss prevented Dallastown coach Mary Manlove from picking up her 100th career win.
West York 52, Gettysburg 42: At Gettysburg, Morgan Bamberger led a trio of West York girls in double digits with 14 points. Liv Sollberger (13 points) and Catie McCarty (11) rounded out that group. Devetche Johnson scored a game-high 18 points for the Warriors. West York improved to 13-7 overall and 9-4 in York-Adams Division II.
Greencastle-Antrim 57, Spring Grove 30: At Greencastle, Morgan Hagerman led the Rockets with 12 points in the non-league match-up.
Central York 80, Reading 34: At Central, Emma Saxton's 23 points led the Panthers. Teammate Teirra Preston knocked in 14 points. Central improved to 19-2.
York High 29, Littlestown 28: Chyna Steele pumped in 13 points to lead the Bearcats to the non-league win. York High improved to 13-8.
South Western 51, Dover 30: At Dover, Taylor Geiman erupted for 27 points to lead South Western. Jacey Shipley added 12 more points to the winning cause, including an 8-for-8 effort from the line.
Delone Catholic 59, Eastern York 42: At McSherrystown, Ally Shipley's 24 points led the Squirettes. For the Golden Knights, Hannah Myers scored 19 points.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org