Returning nearly everyone from a roster that cruised to an unbeaten regular season in division action in 2015-2016, Susquehannock was a preseason favorite to repeat as York-Adams Division II champion.
While the ultimate outcome won't be determined until perhaps the first week of February, it's clear that it will be hard for any one team to run away with things. As of the new year, the Warriors (7-3, 3-1) are one game behind division-leading Eastern York (8-0, 4-0).
Coach Dave Schreiner's team finds itself in the middle of a very competitive battle atop the division standings along with Dover (8-1, 3-1) and West York (7-2, 2-2). The Warriors downed the Eagles, 48-43, on Dec. 23 and the Bulldogs, 46-41, on Dec. 20.
Susquehannock's only divisional loss was against the Golden Knights (49-44) back on Dec. 16. The rematch with Eastern is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 18, down in Glen Rock.
After losing in the first-round of the District 3 playoffs last year, Schreiner has loaded up this year's schedule to avoid a similar problem come playoff time.
Loaded up may be an understatement.
In addition to facing challenging opponents in seemingly every Division II tilt, the Warriors also defeated York Catholic (4-3) and fell to Central York (7-1) at the Panthers' holiday tournament. Other non-league contests against McCaskey (5-4), Elizabethtown (3-3) and Shippensburg (4-4) have help push Susquehannock's OWP (Opponnents' Winning Percentage) to just shy of .600. That's currently ninth best in Class 5-A.
Jaden Walker (12.4 points per game) and Tyler Williams (11.9) lead the Warriors in scoring.
Irish, Squirettes enter showdown on losing skids: Winning is something that has become synonymous with the Delone Catholic and York Catholic girls' basketball programs over the past decade and a half.
The two parochial powers have combined to win 13 of the last 14 District 3 2-A titles.
All of that makes Wednesday's battle much more remarkable. When the two rivals square off at York Catholic High School, both teams will enter the showdown on ... gasp ... losing streaks.
The Irish (4-3) dropped games against Susquehannock and Cedar Cliff (56-37) at Central's holiday tournament to end the 2016 calendar. The Squirettes (6-2) suffered the same fate in falling to a pair of District 1 powers in Parkland (49-31) and Pennridge (41-33).
All of this means that one of the two programs will find itself on an almost-unheard-of three-game losing streak in the middle of the season. As difficult as that might be to fathom, come playoff time it will likely all be forgotten. Delone and York Catholic are still No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the latest District 3 Class 3-A power ratings.
Key injuries: While the season is only nearing its halfway point, a few significant injuries have created problems for a couple of playoff-caliber squads. Both happened on the same night.
West York has surprised some with its strong play so far this season. With a pair of freshman in Makenna Hoffman and Alayna Harris leading the way, the Bulldogs are off to a 7-2 start. Hoffman, however, will be forced to sit out the remainder of the season after suffering a shoulder injury in that loss to Susquehannock back on Dec. 20.
Hoffman was leading her team in scoring at 10.7 points per game.
While Hoffman's injury is disheartening, the Bulldogs have seemed to respond well to her loss. They knocked off two top-eight programs in the District 3 5-A rankings after the Christmas break in Lower Dauphin (6-2) and Greencastle-Antrim (6-1).
The other big injury feels all-too familiar. Delone's Jill Novak, who missed much of last season after tearing the ACL in her left knee, suffered another ACL tear in her team's victory against Littlestown. The Millersville-bound senior tore the ACL in her right knee this time.
Novak was averaging 10.0 points per game so far this season.
League leaders: Coming off a season in which the York High girls' basketball team advanced to the York-Adams League and District 3 playoffs, not much has gone right for the Bearcats (1-8).
One bright spot, however, has been senior Madey-Zania Redman. "Bink," as she is better known, leads the league in scoring at 19.0 points per game. The Lock Haven-bound standout has twice eclipsed the 30-point mark this season (38 vs. Spring Grove, 32 vs. Reading).
Redman is followed closely by Dover's Rajah Fink (18.9), York Catholic's Kate Bauhof (18.0), Eastern's Hannah Myers (17.8) and Dover's Rayah Fink (16.1). Both Rayah Fink and Bauhof are also atop the leaders in 3-point shooting. Fink has dropped in 24 to lead the circuit while Bauhof has made 22 so far.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.