No clear-cut favorite emerges for York-Adams League girls' basketball championship
- The York-Adams League girls' basketball playoffs start Saturday night.
- There will be doubleheaders at Dallastown and Dover.
- Central York will try to defend its league championship.
With the York-Adams League girls’ basketball playoffs set to begin on Saturday, Feb. 10, the path to the league championship appears wide open.
All eight entrants have at least one key victory against a team in the field. Some, such as Division I co-champion Dallastown and Division II champion Susquehannock, have as many as five.
As they say about the stock market, however, past performance isn’t always indicative of future results.
With that in mind, here’s a rough sketch of what to expect.
The favorites: The Wildcats and Warriors certainly have to be considered the best bets right now.
Both teams went 5-1 against the playoff field. Keep in mind, however, that Dallastown earned a head-to-head 41-37 triumph over Susquehannock on Saturday, Feb. 3.
The Warriors, however, swept D-II rivals Dover and Kennard-Dale in a pair of regular-season meetings, while also earning a victory over D-I co-champ Central York at the Panthers’ Holiday Tournament in late December.
While maybe not as prohibitive a favorite as they were a season ago, the defending league champs from Central can't be overlooked. Their 4-2 mark against playoff teams includes a victory over Dallastown in early December. Like the Wildcats, the Panthers have defeated the top team in the District 3 Class 6-A power ratings (Manheim Township).
Then there is a bit of an unknown in D-III co-champ Delone Catholic. The Squirettes have played just two games against the field this year, both against parochial rival and D-III co-champion York Catholic, with each team earning home victories.
The Squirettes are statistically the best team in the field, sporting the league’s top team offense and team defense, but much of that was the result of a weak division schedule. Delone limited opponents to under 10 points on four occasions — all against D-III foes — during the regular season.
The underdogs: Any of the remaining four teams would likely be considered underdogs, but the best bet to pull off a surprise might be Dover. The Eagles finished 2-4 against playoff teams, including a pair of losses to Susquehannock. One of the losses, however, was a 44-25 defeat against Spring Grove. That came on the one night that Y-A League leading scorer Rajah Fink (25.1 points per game) was absent.
The Eagles' playoff run is rather remarkable considering the off-court issues the team has endured. Kevin Glover, who coached the team to the second round of the PIAA Class 5-A state playoffs a year ago, was suspended indefinitely back in December after a criminal investigation led to charges against the team’s junior varsity coach, Aignee Freeland, who allegedly had a sexual relationship with a player. No criminal charges have been filed against Glover, but he remains under suspension.
Tyler Smith, who joined the coaching staff just this season as an unpaid assistant, has done a heck of a job navigating his young squad through it all since taking over for Glover. The Eagles are 10-6 under Smith and 9-4 over their past 13 contests.
Finally there’s Fink, arguably the top player in the league. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania recruit can single-handedly take over games by herself, drawing favorable comparisons to former Delone standout Sierra Moore, who holds the girls’ record for career scoring in the Y-A League. The Eagles are 5-2 when Fink goes over the 30-point mark.
In any other year, York Catholic would find itself as more of a favorite, but playing the entire season without reigning Y-A League scoring leader Kate Bauhof has really taken a toll on the Fighting Irish. The Irish are 0-10 against non-Division III programs this season.
Part of YC’s troubles stem from the aggressively difficult schedule that coach Kevin Bankos regularly puts together. Trinity, Minersville, Archbishop Ryan, Berks Catholic, Central York, Dallastown and Dover were certainly no cupcakes for the Irish, who are 1-4 against playoff teams.
Those experiences, however, could be a big factor in York Catholic’s favor come Saturday.
“They have everyone back except Bauhof,” Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode said of the Irish. “So all of those girls have been through the war many times before and their record, in my estimation, is deceiving. They had some games in there that they probably could have won that they didn’t win.”
Both Kennard-Dale and Spring Grove are making their first playoff appearances in quite some time. The similarities do not stop there. Both squads are relatively young, with their best players being either juniors or sophomores. Both also struggled against the field, with the Rams going 1-3 and the Rockets finishing 1-4, with both owning wins over Dover.
The schedule: The playoffs begin Saturday with doubleheaders at Dover and Dallastown.
In the Dover doubleheader, Central York faces York Catholic at 6 p.m., followed by Dallastown against Kennard-Dale at 7:30 p.m.
In the Dallastown doubleheader, Susquehannock faces Spring Grove at 6 p.m., followed by Delone versus Dover at 7:30 p.m.
The winners of the 6 p.m. contests Saturday will square off in one semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 14, with the other two winners on Saturday facing off in the other semifinal. The semifinals are set for Dallastown.
The championship game is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at York College.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.