Littlestown prevents York Catholic from clinching D-III title; other Tuesday boys' hoops

DANTE GREEN
717-505-5418/@TaySean14
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The Littlestown Thunderbolts appeared ready to relinquish their York-Adams Division III boys' basketball title.

The Thunderbolts faced a 16-point, third-quarter deficit against the visiting York Catholic Fighting Irish on Tuesday night.

A late surge, however, helped Littlestown keep the title out of the hands of their division rivals, at least for the time being.

Thanks largely to a suffocating defensive effort, Littlestown would eventually take the lead in the fourth quarter en route to a 56-53 home victory.

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“We slowed down and executed better,” Littlestown head coach John Forster said. “We were more patient against the press, and we got the ball inside — our big guys finished well, and we rebounded well in the second half.” 

The Thunderbolts handed the Fighting Irish their first divisional loss of the season and also prevented the Irish from clinching the outright D-III championship. Despite the loss, however, York Catholic (14-5, overall, 11-1 in D-III) can still clinch the division by winning its final two division matchups at York Tech (5-16) on Friday and at home vs. Hanover (5-14) on Saturday.

Littlestown (17-4, 11-2), meanwhile, still kept alive its hopes of winning at least a share of a fifth consecutive D-III crown. The Thunderbolts will finish its division season at Biglerville on Friday, but they will need to win and also hope that York Catholic loses at least once to gain even a piece of the crown.

York Catholic last won the outright D-III title in 2016. Littlestown and York Catholic shared the D-III crown in 2018.

How it unfolded: On Tuesday, the Thunderbolts started the scoring when Christopher Meakin drove down the left baseline and banked in a shot off the glass. They would add a 3-pointer out of the right corner from Caleb Unger. The 5-0 start, however, would be the only lead the home team would have until the final three minutes.

York Cark Catholic would get a 3-pointer in the corner from Michael Shelley on its next possession and go on a 7-0 run.

An aggressive trapping defense allowed the Irish to pick off numerous passes for turnovers and score on the other end.

After not scoring for three minutes, Littlestown would get back on the board with a corner 3-pointer from Zyan Herr. Brady Walker would pick off another pass and his fast-break layup gave the visitors an 18-9 lead at the 1:31 mark of the first period.

The Irish would carry a 19-12 lead into the second quarter, when they forced Littlestown into tough jumpers and more turnovers. The Irish employed a full-court press all game and that helped them carry a 30-22 lead into halftime. Walker would lead the Irish in scoring in the first half with nine points. Zyan Herr had seven for the Thunderbolts.

Walker would continue his strong play to begin the second half with a layup in the middle of the lane, giving his team its first double-digit lead. The deficit would balloon to 38-22 before Littletown's Meakin scored his team’s first bucket at the 5:15 mark. The Thunderbolts would finally get the lead back down to single digits with a 3-pointer from Herr with two minutes left in the third period.  A strong drive down the lane would lead to a buzzer-beating layup from Unger to help shrink the lead even further.

Finishing off the comeback: The Irish had a 42-37 edge going into the final period but looked shaky on both ends of the floor.

Attacking the paint, instead of settling for jumpers, would prove the biggest difference for the Thunderbolts in the second half. Also, an improved defensive effort and a willingness to attack the offensive glass proved key to their comeback.

The Thunderbolts offense also woke up in the fourth quarter, starting with layups from Herr and a crucial steal from Jake Bosley. An offensive rebound and putback from Meakins brought the team within two. Another layup from Meakins tied the game, and a fast-break layup from Herr would give Littlestown its first lead since the start of the game.

The home team did not look back from there, taking control of the contest. The Irish struggled to score, getting shut out of the paint and forced into sloppy turnovers. The last Irish chance to tie the game ended with an over-and-back violation.

Littlestown coach impressed with his team's comeback: Forster was impressed by how his team bounced back in the second half.

“We didn’t get off the greatest of starts but our guys kept battling,” Forster said. “That is kind of the MO we’ve built up here. Not surprised by the ending but happy with the way our guys responded.”

Meakins scored 21 to lead all scorers. Herr and Bosley added 14 each for the Thunderbolts. Brady Walker led the way for the Irish with 15, while Luke Forjan and Shelley each added 11 points.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Red Lion 41, Northeastern 35: At Red Lion, Evan Watt led the Lions to the York-Adams Division I victory by scoring 12 points. Teammate Joe Sedora had 11 points. D-I champion Red Lion improves to 12-1 in the division and 16-5 overall. Northeastern fell to 12-8 and 8-5.

West York 66, Kennard-Dale 39: At West York, the home team improved to 17-2 overall and 11-1 in York-Adams Division II. David McGladrie led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Teammate Braedyn Detz scored 12 points.

Central York 82, Dallastown 66: At Central York, Greg Guidinger scored 23 points to lead the surging Panthers to the York-Adams Division I victory. Guidinger had three 3-pointers. Jacobi Baker added 20 points for Central, while Ethan Dodson scored 18 points. For the Wildcats, DJ Smith scored 22 points and Levere Powell added 15 points, including three from behind the arc. Central, which has won eight of its last nine games, is now 9-11 overall and 6-7 in D-I. Dallastown is 8-11 and 6-6.

York High 58, South Western 53: At York High, Julez Tucker scored 17 points to power the Bearcats to the York-Adams Division I victory. Teammate Daveyon Lydner had 12 points. For the Mustangs, Seth Sager scored 23 points, including a 10-for-11 night from the charity stripe, while teammate Aiden Littleton collected 12 points.

Dover 56, Eastern York 51: At Dover, Thomas Smyser led the Eagles to the York-Adams Division II upset by scoring 20 points, including three from behind the arc. Smyser was also 9 for 10 from the charity stripe. Teammate Jakob Smyser had 13 points. For the Golden Knights, Austin Bausman scored 19 points, while teammate Carter Wamsley collected 14 points. Dover improved to 2-16 overall and 1-9 in D-II. Eastern is 12-7 and 6-4.

New Oxford 54, Spring Grove 44: At New Oxford, Aden Strausbaugh led the Colonials to the York-Adams Division I victory by scoring 27 points. For the Rockets, Ethan Glass had 16 points, while Avin Myers scored 14 points.

Delone Catholic 52, Bermudian Springs 43: At York Springs, Camdyn Keller led the Squires to the York-Adams Division III victory by scoring 13 points. For the Eagles, Tyson Carpenter had 10 points. Delone improved to 14-6 overall and 10-3 in D-III. The Squires have won 10 of their last 11.

Fairfield 52, York Tech 50: At Fairfield, Eric Ball led the Green Knights to the York-Adams Division III victory by scoring 18 points. Teammate Peyton Stadler had 11 points. For the Spartans, Anthony Torres scored 21 points, while teammate Ja'mar Johnson had 13 points.

Hanover 50, Biglerville 43: At Hanover, the Nighthawks won the York-Adams Division III contest to improve to 5-14 overall and 3-9 in D-III. Biglerville is 3-17 and 1-12. Hanover dominated the second-half action, 34-23, to rally from a 20-16 halftime deficit. Ethan Killinger's 10 points led Hanover. Biglerville's Eli Weigle had 15 points.

Reach Dante Green at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports. Dave VanO'Linda contributed to this report.