In the eight classes that make up the boys' and girls' fields in the District 3 tournament, 16 teams will play for chances at district gold over the next few days.
Of those 16, a quarter of them will be made up of York County schools.
Between Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, four local schools will take to the court at Hershey's Giant Center with a chance to be crowned the best District 3 school in its respective class.
Of the four area teams taking part in the title games, three will be on the boys' side. York Country Day entered the Class A tournament unbeaten and as the No. 1 seed, and hasn't had any trouble reaching the final.
In Class AAA, No. 4 Eastern York has cheated death in each of its first three district games, only to see itself storm from behind for victories to keep alive its bid for district gold.
And in Class AAAA, Central York has lived up to its No. 1 seeding and will try to capture the first district title in its program history.
On the girls' side, No. 3 seed York Catholic is in a familiar spot. The Irish have won the last 10 District 3-AA titles and will look to keep the dynasty going.
Since 2007, at least one area school has won a district title — boys or girls — in every year but 2008. This year, there looks to be strong chance to keep that streak going, with four opportunities to keep the golden run going.
Here's a look at each of the title games involving local teams.
AAAA — No. 1 Central York (23-3) vs. No. 2 Reading (24-3), Saturday, 1 p.m.: The Panthers may have entered the tournament as the top seed in the largest class, but that hasn't stopped many media members and fans from around District 3 from believing that the Red Knights should actually hold that spot.
Central got to this point with two blowout victories in the first two rounds and then needed a buzzer-beater by senior standout Jared Wagner in overtime to take down No. 4 Spring Grove on Tuesday night. The Panthers survived that scare, despite scoring just one point in the fourth quarter and seeing an eight-point advantage heading into the final quarter evaporate. The runner-up in the Y-A League tournament, Central will certainly have a tall task with Reading if it hopes to avoid another second-place result in a postseason tournament.
There isn't a hotter team than Reading right now. After opening the year 5-3, the Red Knights ripped off 19 consecutive wins, including winning their first three district games by an average margin of 16.7 points. Reading boasts a balanced lineup. Any of its five starters can score the ball, as can one or two guys off the bench. The Red Knights, through, are mostly about junior Lonnie Walker, rated the No. 23 recruit in the nation by ESPN.com for the Class of 2017. He scored 37 points in Reading's overtime victory over Carlisle last Saturday, but took it easy on Wilson in a semifinal blowout, finishing with 12 points after leaving the game briefly in the first half with a knee injury.
"Reading is the team I know the least about," Central York coach Kevin Schieler said after the Spring Grove game. "I'm glad we have a long break here. I'm going to have my homework cut out. We're definitely going to have to prepare for them. Obviously, Lonnie Walker is a great individual player, but their whole team is very impressive, and it's no wonder they're the favorites to win a district title this year."
AAA — No. 3 Bishop McDevitt (19-6) vs. No. 4 Eastern York (22-5), Thursday, 8 p.m.: The Golden Knights haven't made their championship run easy, but here they are, in the final two.
Eastern needed final-possession stops in each of the first two rounds, and then overcame a 12-point first-half deficit against top-seeded Milton Hershey to advance to the finals. But, at this point, it's not about how you win, just if you win, and the Golden Knights still have life.
The team often goes as senior star Broguen Nicholas goes, but it still needs a secondary scoring option, which it got on Monday night. Evan Springer scored a career-high 24 points and really paced Eastern's comeback, knocking down 3-pointer after 3-pointer, which freed up other players to also get open and hit high-percentage shots.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders are playing more indicative of their seed, rather than their record. Don't let the six losses fool you, McDevitt is not your typical six-loss team, made obvious by its recent district tournament run. The Crusaders haven't played a game closer than 19 points so far in the tournament, winning by an average margin of 21 points per game. They're incredibly consistent, rarely going into dry spells on offense, while holding opposing offenses to long scoring droughts.
The Golden Knights aren't a team that likes playing up-tempo basketball, so slowing the game down could limit the amount of possessions. If the Knights can keep it close late in the game, their experience in close games, compared to McDevitt's lack of tight games, could be an X-factor that works in the Knights' favor.
Prediction: Bishop McDevitt.
A — No. 1 York Country Day (21-0) vs. No. 10 Greenwood (13-12), Friday, 5 p.m.: The magical season for the Greyhounds continues.
They remain the only unbeaten team in Class A. And really, they haven't had any competition through most of the season. The trio of Jordan Ray, DeAireus Brown and D.J. Hamilton has been a revelation for head coach Corey Stiles. The trio allows YCD to play a high-flying offense and an in-your-face press. It's caused most of the smaller schools, without the same talent as the Greyhounds, immense problems. That will probably continue into the championship game.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, entered the tournament at just 10-12, one of the last three teams to qualify for the tournament. But, they caught fire at the right time, knocking off No. 2 Lancaster County Christian and No. 3 West Shore Christian in their quest for a district crown. The way Greenwood is playing, nothing is out of question in Friday's game, but in order to run the gauntlet and knock off the top three seeds on its way to a gold medal, it'll have to take its game to a whole new level.
Prediction: York Country Day.
AA — No. 1 Camp Hill (21-4) vs. No. 3 York Catholic (20-5), Thursday, 6:15 p.m.: Was there really any question that the Fighting Irish would be back in the district title game?
After all, this is a program that has won 10 straight Class AA gold medals, so it is the cream of the crop when it comes to the class. Since beginning the year 9-4, Kevin Bankos' girls are 11-1 in their last 12 and are peaking at the right time, with their only loss coming in the York-Adams playoff semifinals. In the Fighting Irish's 80-51 victory over No. 2 Wyomissing in the semifinals, sophomore Kate Bauhof dropped 41 points for the second time this season. York Catholic has outscored its first two district opponents, 125-77.
This is also a rematch of last year's championship game, a 63-57 victory for the Fighting Irish in overtime. So, certainly the Lions will see this as a chance to exact revenge. Camp Hill hasn't had nearly as easy a time as York Catholic in districts, winning its two games by an average of seven points, including a 53-43 win over Delone Catholic in the semifinals. Delone shared the York-Adams Division III title with York Catholic this season.
Prediction: York Catholic.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com