Northeastern and Spring Grove each made easy work of their opponents on Friday night to set up a showdown in Tuesday's semifinal round of the York-Adams League boys' basketball playoffs.
In the other half of the bracket, it was Central York and Eastern York prevailing to solidify their berths into the semifinal round.
The Rockets (20-2) used an impressive 21-2 run to begin the third quarter against Hanover in Friday's first game at West York High School, turning a 26-22 halftime advantage into a 47-24 lead. The quarter was capped with an Eli Brooks buzzer-beating shot from his own foul line, bringing the standing room only crowd to its feet and proving that there is literally nothing he can't do.
"Actually, we do (half-court shots) all the time in practice," Spring Grove head coach James Brooks said about his son's buzzer beater. "The guys always get a big kick out of it, full-court, half-court, he makes it with the Steph Curry look-away."
The miraculous shot was just three points in Brooks' standout performance, scoring 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five steals and two assists. He scored the team's first 14 points of the game.
Darin Gordon added a double-double of his own for the Rockets, posting 12 points and 12 rebounds. But, as impressive as Brooks' offensive performance was, it was his defense that opened some eyes. Tasked with guarding the Nighthawks' (16-6) leading scorer, Kyle Krout, in check. Krout entered the night trailing only Brooks as the league's leading scorer, averaging 22.5 points per game. But, Brooks held him to just five points through three quarters and 10 total in the game.
"When I put my mind to something, I usually get it done," Brooks said about shutting down Krout. "So, tonight, the focus was on defense and just letting the scoring come to me. But, just playing defense each and every possession against a good player, the biggest factor is just shutting him down the whole game and getting in his head."
His complete effort pushed Spring Grove into the semifinal round and a matchup against the Division II champion Bobcats.
Northeastern booked its spot into Tuesday's round with a dominating performance against York High, avenging its only defeat of the year from earlier in the season.
The Bobcats used a 27-5 second quarter to pace their way to the 76-47 victory over the Bearcats.
"They've been beating us for the past three years," Donovian Maxfield said. "And we wanted to get back and show them that we can play with the best of the best because they're considered the best team in the county and in order for us to get respect, we have to beat one of the best teams in the county."
The hot start for Northeastern (21-1) was a complete 180 degree turnaround from the first meeting of the season. In the Bobcats' loss on Dec. 23, they fell behind by as many as 23 points in the opening half and could never quite make up the entire deficit. On Friday night, however, Northeastern never once gave York High (12-10) the chance to get in the game, scoring the first 11 points of the contest and never looking back.
In total, eight different Bobcats scored in the game, led by Kobi Nwandu's 14 points, followed by Maxfield's 11. Antonio Rizzuto added 10 points off the bench and Fred Mulbah chipped in with 10 as well.
"It was sort of a helpless feeling because whatever defense we threw at them, they attacked us and beat us on the glass," Bearcats head coach Troy Sowers said. "I give all the credit to Northeastern because they beat us at every part of the game."
Jacquez Casiano matched Nwandu's game-high in points with 14, 12 of which came off of 3-pointers. Montrel Morgan added 13 points.
Eastern York and Central York advance
: In the other two games played at Red Lion High School, the Golden Knights booked their spot in the semifinals with a 59-46 win over York Catholic.
Eastern York (19-4) controlled play in the second half, turning a 29-24 halftime advantage into a 10-point lead by the end of the third. That lead only grew in the final quarter, ultimately winding up in the 13-point defeat of the Fighting Irish (17-5).
Following that game, the Panthers (19-2) showed why they're the No. 1 team in the District 3-AAAA power ratings, dispatching West York, 62-38.
Central York used tight defense to stymie the Bulldogs (12-8), holding them to just 12 points in the opening half of basketball, taking a 36-12 lead into the break. Despite the defensive effort letting up in the third, the 24-point advantage that the Panthers had was too much for West York to make up, ending its league tournament run.
All eight teams in the league tournament qualified for the District 3 tournament, so none of the four eliminated teams are done with their seasons.
As for the four remaining teams, they'll square off on Tuesday night to earn a bid into next Thursday's championship game.
Spring Grove will take on Northeastern, while Central York will face Eastern York.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com