Two weeks ago, it looked like none of the three boys' basketball divisions in the York-Adams League were going to give us much excitement.
In each one, there was a heavy favorite and then everybody else. In Division I, you had undefeated Northeastern. Division II was owned by red-hot Eastern York. And Division III was being dominated by the overwhelming depth and talent of York Catholic.
We seemed destined for anti-climatic finishes.
The unpredictability of high school athletics, however, then revealed itself over the last couple of weeks. Suddenly two of the division races have been turned on their heads, and now have us set up for at least some excitement.
The Fighting Irish are still well in control of Division III, even more so after Littlestown knocked off Delone Catholic over the weekend. That gave York Catholic a two-game lead in Division III with showdowns at the Thunderbolts and at home against the Squires this week. The Fighting Irish will be favored in both of those contests and could all but have the division crown clinched by week's end.
They're not the story here, however.
The real stories lie within D-I and D-II, which have quickly become competitive again.
Division I: At the beginning of the season, the Bobcats raced out to a two-game D-I lead, earning wins over Dallastown and Spring Grove early in the season, while the rest of the division beat up on each other. The jump up from D-II to D-I looked to give Northeastern little trouble. It appeared well on its way to claiming the division crown.
However, with the strong play of Michigan commit Eli Brooks, the Rockets stabilized and started to rattle off key wins within the division, at least keeping pressure on the Bobcats. Still, Spring Grove was two games back of Northeastern and already lost the first head-to-head meeting. With the Bobcats looking unbeatable through the first six weeks of the season, a two-game lead looked like a five-game cushion.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Not only did Northeastern finally lose, but it lost at home on Friday night to Central York, handing the Bobcats their first loss overall and within D-I. While that upset was brewing, the Rockets rallied from a 20-point deficit at home against New Oxford to win, closing the gap on Northeastern to just a game. Now, we have a division race on our hands.
The Bobcats will travel to Spring Grove on Friday night and, assuming both teams get through the week with no losses, that game could ultimately decide D-I. It'll dictate whether we could have co-champions or if Northeastern will regain its two-game edge and waltz to a D-I crown in its first season playing among the big boys.
Division II: Meanwhile, in the Y-A League's middle division, what once looked like it was going to be a runaway by the Golden Knights has now become a three-team race.
It all started two weeks ago when senior leading scorer Jared Achterberg went down with a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee. At the time, Eastern was riding a 10-game winning streak, was 11-1 overall, sat atop the D-II standings by itself and was second in the District 3 Class 4-A power ratings. With his absence, the Golden Knights dropped three consecutive games and plummeted in the District 3 power ratings before finally ending the skid over the weekend. In the midst of it all, head coach Jon Reichard was not on the bench for the Susquehannock game last week, with the school not releasing any other details on his absence.
During that time, Dover got back to its early-season form and jumped into a tie with Eastern for the division lead, while an upstart Kennard-Dale team has also worked its way into the title race. The Eagles and Golden Knights are currently tied in the loss column, each with two losses, but Dover is ahead with a 7-2 mark, while Eastern is 6-2. The Rams are 5-3, with a huge road contest looming on Tuesday in Wrightsville against the Golden Knights.
The Knights, Eagles and Rams are all also jockeying for District 3 tournament positioning. That will only up the ante coming down the stretch.
For most of the York County basketball fans, it will be enjoyable to see some drama in the final two weeks.
Just 14 days ago, that hardly looked to be the case.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org