One would be hard-pressed to find a more challenging opening seven-game stretch than the one that the Susquehannock girls’ basketball team took on to start this season.
With three games against teams currently slotted among the top six in the District 3 Class 6-A power ratings (Cedar Cliff, Elizabethtown and Central York), as well three more against top-12 teams in the 4-A and 5-A classifications (West York, Dover and York Suburban), the Warriors certainly have not fattened up on inferior foes to compile their impressive 7-0 start this season.
Coach Dave Schreiner’s club just finished up a standout two-day stretch at the Panthers Christmas Tournament with a pair of victories over defending York-Adams League champion Central York (sixth in 6-A), 50-41, and against Cedar Cliff (fourth in 6-A), 47-35.
To no one’s surprise, the reigning District 3 5-A champions are perched atop the 5-A ratings again heading into the new year.
Pleasantly surprised: No one is more pleasantly surprised than Schreiner about his team's unbeaten start.
“I can’t honestly tell you that I thought we’d be 7-0 right now,” Schreiner said. “As a matter of fact, I’d have probably thought that I would be happy if we were 5-2. But maybe we’re 7-0 because we’re a better basketball team at this point in the season than even I thought we would be.”
While there is a lot to be thankful for down in Glen Rock these days, the Warriors and Schreiner have some unpleasant experience down this road before. A fast start doesn't always translate into a strong finish.
Last year’s District 3 title run came just a year after Susquehannock was upset in the first round of the district playoffs, when the Warriors entered the tournament with a 21-3 record and the No. 4 seed in the-then 3-A bracket.
Avoiding complacency: If there’s one thing that Schreiner won’t allow, it’s complacency. Even with four starters back from last season’s championship squad, Schreiner knows there's always room for improvement.
“I don’t think we’ve played even close to the best basketball that we can play yet,” he said. “And those are good things considering that we’ve still found ways to win.”
Balanced scoring: Part of the reason the Warriors remain unbeaten is their balance. Juniors Jaden Walker (13.9 points per game) and Jayla Galbreath (8.1 ppg), as well as senior guard Taylor Tannura (11.1 ppg) have all took turns leading Schreiner’s club in scoring this season. And Maddie Stone (4.7) and Anna Mahan (5.6) may not put up points like the other three, but both have proven to be reliable.
While his team’s 7-0 mark is pretty impressive, Schreiner would be even more surprised if his team finishes the regular season unbeaten.
Most of the York-Adams League Division II schedule still remains — two games each against resurgent squads such as Eastern York, Kennard-Dale and Gettysburg, as well as rematches with West York, Dover and York Suburban. In addition, there are non-league tilts against Susquehanna Township and Dallastown. Given that tough road ahead, chances are there might be a setback or two along the way.
Loss may not be bad thing: Schreiner, oddly enough, seems to think that may not be the worst thing for his club.
“I think that the thing that worries me more now as we head into the second part of the season is that we haven’t lost,” Schreiner said. “I know that sounds kind of crazy, but we haven’t lost that big game yet. And sometimes a loss can kind of take the air out of your sails and you start to think that maybe you’re not as good as you think you are. And that’s the thing that worries me the most — that we haven’t lost yet and had to face the adversity of coming back from it.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.