HERSHEY — When York Country Day put together its basketball schedule this year, it wanted to make it as difficult as possible.
The reason became clear about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Trailing twice by 19 points in the second half, the Greyhounds put together a comeback for the ages as they stunned Lancaster Country Day 61-54 to win their third consecutive District 3 Class 1-A boys' title at the Giant Center. In the last 1 1/2 quarters, York Country Day outscored its foe, 36-10.
Considering YCD started two freshmen and had only one returning starter this season, albeit an all-stater in Jalen Gorham, this third crown might be even sweeter than the other two.
"We got it under 10 and I thought 'we're good, there's plenty of time left,'" YCD coach Chris Charleston said. "We just kept attacking and the run didn't stop. We made some shots and got to the foul line and made some big free throws and that was the bottom line.
"Down 19 points is a lot, but our guys had been there before. We scheduled up even more than last year. We played Steel-High, Camp Hill twice, so we played some pretty tough teams. We played 6-A Lebanon, Columbia and Hanover, so we really had up-scaled the schedule big time and it really paid off. I felt our kids were ready because of that schedule."
It showed. despite No. 2 seed LCD (18-7) hitting the first two buckets of the third quarter to lead 40-21.
Gorham excels despite foul woes: When Gorham, who finished with a game-high 26 points, registered his fourth foul at the 6:46 mark of the third quarter, however, it didn't look good for the fourth-seeded Greyhounds (15-5). But Gorham stayed in the game and played the rest of the way to lead the comeback.
"That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Gorham of playing with four fouls. "It was tough. I had to restrain myself, but when we got it to 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, I think we all knew we could win it. After we lost all our scoring from last year, nobody thought we could do this this season so this is very satisfying."
Six points from Gorham in the first 2 minutes, 43 seconds of the fourth quarter and then a key three-point play from Luke Greisler brought the Greyhounds within 52-49 with 4:50 remaining. Aided by LCD's 14 second-half turnovers, YCD finally tied it at 54-54 on two free throws from Greisler. Seconds later, Jonathan Wymard gave YCD the lead for good with a 3-point bucket with 58 seconds left. From there, it was all the Greyhounds.
"I think the fact that we had been down in games before really helped us," said Wymard, who added 12 points. "But Jalen staying in the game and playing with four fouls was big. If he had fouled out, who knows, the outcome might not have gone our way."
"He attacked the basket and played smart down the stretch," YCD's coach said of Gorham. "We didn't have any choice, he was staying in the game even when he picked up his third foul. It was now or never in that second half.
"We knew we had to make a change because we were absolutely getting dominated and not playing with any intensity early in the game. We had to change up our 31 defense a little bit and get them frustrated, which we did. When you're playing a zone, you want to move the basketball so we like to get our guys in between players so they can't reverse the ball and penetrate. A couple of times we were a little slow and they beat us on rotations, but other than that, I thought we were terrific."
Strong start by LCD: LCD took control early thanks mainly to Andre Williams, who had 18 points in the first half. But he managed just one point in the second half. The Cougars scored the first 13 points of the second quarter to take a 32-17 advantage, and they led 36-21 at halftime before the Greyhounds' second-half heroics.
YCD will now wait to see who it plays in the PIAA playoffs that begin Friday, March 9. The Greyhounds, as the District 3 No. 1 seed, will meet the District 1 No. 3 seed at a site and time to be determined.
Reach George Hammond at email@example.com.