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The Kennard-Dale girls' and York Catholic boys' lacrosse teams won York-Adams League tournament titles Friday, May 11, at Red Lion High School. The Rams' Morgan Bowings and the Irish's Chandler Hake discussed their team's victories. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch

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It’s no secret that boys' lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation.

So, it comes as no surprise that it’s also taken root quickly in central Pennsylvania.

What’s still a bit of a "secret' in the minds of some, is just how talented the local players are, despite the area not having the lacrosse pedigree of nearby places such as Baltimore or Philadelphia.

The top talents in the area often must travel to those lacrosse-rich regions to find the best competition around during offseason club play. All too often, those top talents are assumed to hail from those places, since central Pennsylvania isn’t quite firmly on the lacrosse map yet.

But, if TEAM Lacrosse has anything to say about it, that’s all about to change.

The group has started the Mason-Dixon Public School Lacrosse Showcase as a chance to earn the area its rightful place among lacrosse hot beds.

“The whole point of doing this showcase is to show that central Pennsylvania lacrosse players are just as good as the Philly and Baltimore kids,” Frank Corto, president of TEAM Lacrosse, said. “We may not have as many, but when you start looking at the best of the best, some of those kids are just as good.”

Event set for Tuesday: The event, which will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at York College, features two all-star games of current public high school players from central Pennsylvania and Maryland based on their classes. One game will feature players from the class of 2019 clash, while other will have teams of the combined classes of 2020 and 2021.

Those squads were selected after a series of tryouts, which were evaluated by various collegiate coaches in the two regions. For the central Pennsylvania team, out of the 44 players on the two teams, 17 area school districts will be represented.

The York-Adams League won’t be short on representation. A large number of Y-A all-stars will be competing. So, the event is sure to serve as a solid measuring stick for the league as well as the region.

Different structure in Maryland: High school lacrosse in Maryland is structured differently than in Pennsylvania. It has separate leagues for public and private schools. So, for the first year, players will be taken from only public schools in Maryland.

“The public-school kids just don’t get the recognition and the notoriety that the private-school kids get,” Corto said. “So, the premise of the Maryland side was to give the opportunity to public-school kids this year.”

Corto notes that should the event be met with the expected success, there are plans to open it up to all Maryland players. Corto also envisions a scenario where multiple regions (such as Philadelphia and both Maryland private and public) are represented in a tournament-style event.

College exposure: Besides providing a chance to showcase the abilities of local players, the games are also about helping to grow the sport locally, as well as providing a chance for players to get some collegiate exposure.

Corto estimates more than 50 colleges will have representatives in attendance, including schools such as Penn State, Towson, UMBC, Rutgers, Richmond, Salisbury and York.

Youth players from local clubs will also be invited to part of the event, which will give some youngsters the chance to be ball boys for the game and interact with the players.

Corto foresees a situation like his youth days in Maryland, where attending these types of events meant a chance to meet older players that the kids looked up to and ultimately wanted to emulate.

TEAM Lacrosse: TEAM Lacrosse is a club team of sorts that each year seeks to bring together the top talents from central Pennsylvania and give them a chance to compete outside of the area against top competition.

The group fields teams for summer and fall all-star events, and according to Corto has been finding success in areas with lacrosse-rich traditions.

Passion for game: Corto himself has a deep passion for the game. Hailing originally from the Baltimore area, Corto played at St. Paul High School before earning a chance to play at Johns Hopkins University. He’s also coached at his former high school and on the club level for several years.

He’s taken inspiration from some of the founding names of the game in this area, and hopes to simply build off what they’ve started.

“The game is growing, it’s the fastest-growing sport in the country, it truly is. And I want to help it grow where we are,” Corto said. “The Bob Rheins, the Phil Bates of early years have done a fantastic job of setting the platform, the base, of York County lacrosse. And my goal is just to help it go to the next level.

“It’s going to be a fun night, there’s no doubt about it.”

For more information on the showcase, visit www.masondixonshowcase.com.

— Reach Elijah Armold at earmold@yorkdispatch.com

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