It's been over a decade (2004-05) since the York High girls’ basketball team finished with a winning record (13-11 overall).
It’s been even longer since its last District 3 playoff berth (2000-01).
Because of that it's become easy for opponents to overlook the Bearcats girls’ program over the years. They’ve compiled a woeful 29-188 record since their last winning campaign. It’s even worse when looking at their divisional record inside the York-Adams League in that span, going just 12-116.
Winning less than 15 percent of their games can lead to low opinions and expectations. Some opponents have maybe even referred to games against York High as an automatic win.
As the 2015-16 season is about to conclude its first month, one thing is becoming clear – the Bearcats are no longer “automatic wins."
The Bearcats head into the post-Christmas schedule with a 6-3 overall record (2-3 in Division I), which includes victories over Spring Grove, Dallastown, East Pennsboro and Cedar Cliff. Buoyed by the 1-2 duo of senior Chyna Steele (19.2 points per game) and sophomore Jasmine Beistline (10.8 ppg), York High is fourth in the York-Adams League in scoring offense (51.9 points per game).
Head Coach Larry Corbin knows that if his squad can improve its defense (49.0 ppg), it will not only easily surpass last year’s win total (seven), but also have a legitimate shot at playing games well into February.
Just don’t call this season a “surprise”.
“It’s not really a surprise for us,” said Corbin, whose team is just one divisional victory shy of matching the most (three) it's had since 2004-05. “I knew that we would be competitive. I think last year was more of a surprise in the fact that we didn’t win more games than we did (seven) more so than this year being where we’re at right now.”
Corbin isn’t shocked because he knows the potential of the girls on his club. He coached them while they were 7th and 8th graders when they dropped only four games over that span. Since then, the biggest problem for Corbin was getting that group back together.
“The team that we have now is the same as the teams we had when we played as 7th and 8th graders with a freshman team schedule,” he said. “Madey Redman came back from (York) Tech, where she played for York Country Day. And we got Garia Kinard back. She was with us as a freshman and left for two years but now she’s back from Maryland. She’s a true point-guard and probably one of the best ball-handlers that we have on the team. So all the transfers back (to York High) have helped.”
The memories from those teams that Corbin coached years ago hasn’t been forgotten.
“They know what it takes to win,” he said. “Obviously it was just a freshman level but they know what winning is. So that gives them some confidence. And those first two games (this year) that we got under our belt starts to build confidence.”
Scheme-wise the Bearcats are a unique team on the court. Corbin loves to push the ball offensively, but rarely uses pressure on defense. The half-court defensive set that he employs was successful in two victories over Mid-Penn Conference foes, Cedar Cliff and East Pennsboro.
Those two outfits are no pushovers themselves. East Pennsboro defeated Dallastown this season while Cedar Cliff beat a Susquehanna Township squad that cruised past York Catholic.
“Our half-court defense has been working well for us,” Corbin said. “We just make sure to sprint down the court before (the other team) gets down. And we work on that a lot during practice. We run and get in the lane and then find our player from there. And it still has room to get better, but as time moves on it will.”
York High will have an excellent chance at matching last season’s win total Monday at 4 p.m. when it squares off against the home team in the Reading Holiday Tournament. The Red Knights are just 1-6 on the season.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.