(Editor's note: This is another in a series of occasional stories leading up to the start of the York-Adams League winter sports season.)
If there was one intangible that you would think the Susquehannock girls' basketball team wouldn't need to worry about in 2017-18, it would be chemistry.
Yet, that was exactly what the team's players and head coach Dave Schreiner discussed during York-Adams League winter sports media day on Saturday, Nov. 11.
For a team that only lost one key player (leading scorer Tyler Williams, 13.0 points per game) to graduation from a year ago, chemistry is still the biggest concern Susquehannock has for this season. That's because the Warriors know that, no matter who you bring back, every season is a new season, and what was accomplished last year doesn't impact this year.
That feeling can be magnified when you're also the reigning District 3 Class 5-A champion and a state semifinalist.
"Every year, to me, is about putting it together," Schreiner said. "It's a process. What I always tell the kids and our other coaches, when you're trying to put things together, you gotta figure out how to win."
Coming off stellar season: Last season, Susquehannock knew how to win.
The Warriors went 26-4 en route to the York-Adams League Division II title and District 3 5-A championship. On top of that, there were semifinal appearances in the league and state tournaments, making Susquehannock one of the most consistently dangerous teams from the Y-A League last season.
Yet, after being so dominant a year ago, now the Warriors must cope with the expectations that the same success will simply fall into place this season. The players and coaches understand that this season stands alone and last year has no bearing on how good this team can be. Fans, however, may be another story. They will likely expect Susquehannock to just pick up where it left off from last season.
"I think it's important that we don't expect anything," senior forward Anna Mahan said. "Last year, we worked for every win; we worked for every game. So, we have to do the same thing and can't expect to be where we are without working for it."
Good fortune needed: Schreiner admitted that last year's overall success wasn't just from his team being better than almost every opponent it faced. There also had to be some good fortune, which the Warriors had.
Not very deep, the team never dealt with a serious injury to a key player and managed to avoid foul trouble, according to Schreiner.
Staying healthy and avoiding foul trouble in games are two things that every team needs each year to have a winning season, so they'll be essential again for Susky to remain on top. With experienced players such as Jayla Galbreath (54 3-pointers in 2016-17, 9.9 ppg), Jaden Walker (10.2 ppg), Mahan (7.0 ppg), Maddie Stone (19 3-pointers) and Taylor Tannura (70.1 percent free throws) returning for the Warriors, they should have the maturity to keep themselves out of foul trouble again. Injuries, however, can't be predicted, so Susquehannock can only deal with that bridge if it presents itself.
Even if everything falls into place again for the Warriors, it still won't be a cakewalk for them to repeat in Division II, or District 3. Within the league, the players on Susquehannock believe that West York has the pieces to challenge it. They might not be far off in that assessment. The Bulldogs finished fifth in districts in 5-A and also qualified for the state tournament.
The Warriors don't mind looking around the rest of the league — inside and outside of Division II — to gauge how they might stack up against other top teams. That type of stuff drives them.
After league title: One accolade that has eluded this group is a league championship and, in order to accomplish that, Susquehannock must dethrone reigning champion Central York. The Warriors aren't afraid to actively compare themselves to the Panthers, even if the match-ups between the two have been been one-sided in favor of the Panthers in past years.
Schreiner likes to use the analogy of an elevator to explain the process of becoming a champion.
After riding it all the way to the top last year, the team had to come back down to the ground level to start this season. What happened a season ago has no bearing on what will be accomplished during this one.
So, in order to get back to the top, the team must take the elevator floor-by-floor to make it happen.
With so much talent returning from last year's team, Susquehannock has big plans to return to the top for the 2016-17 season, starting on the first floor.
"I would love to win the division again and make another district run," Mahan said. "But, you gotta start with that first win because you can't win them all if you don't win the first one."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com