Eastern York’s Ryan Bailey beats the defense of a Delone Catholic player as he goes up for a shot Friday. The Golden Knights beat the Squires, 48-36.
Eastern York's Ryan Bailey beats the defense of a Delone Catholic player as he goes up for a shot Friday. The Golden Knights beat the Squires, 48-36. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Bil Bowden)
With his team's first considerable test over, Larry Fisher could breath a small sigh of relief.

OK, so maybe it was a big sigh.

Truth is, the Eastern York boys' basketball coach didn't quite know what to expect heading into his team's game against Delone Catholic on Friday. His senior point guard Austin Tillotson will miss at least the next month with a wrist injury, leaving the Golden Knights without their offensive architect.

So while Eastern's 48-36 win against the visiting Squires was hardly a thing of beauty, it was enough to soothe at least some of Fisher's worries.

"Austin has done so many things. He's left all the questions answered," Fisher said. "Now we're in a whole new era of Eastern basketball about a year before we thought we would be."

Good thing for Eastern York (2-0, 1-0 in YAIAA Division III) its other Division I commit was on his game.

Senior wing Andrew Nicholas dropped a game-high 27 points Friday, giving the Golden Knights enough of an offensive push to get by a scrappy -- albeit wayward shooting -- Delone side.

Then again, this might have offered a glimpse into how Eastern will need to win without Tillotson: Play tight defense, rebound well and rely on Nicholas to pour in enough points.

"They're going to be ugly at times," Fisher said.

Which isn't a problem for the Golden Knights, as long as the results are as they were Friday.

With Tillotson sidelined, Fisher assigned most of Eastern's ballhandling duties to Nicholas and fellow senior Ryky Smith. The two managed the task well for most of Friday's game against Delone's trapping defense, save for a few sputters. Eastern did turn the ball over 19 times, including seven in an all-around-ugly fourth quarter.

"Austin, he sets the offense up," Nicholas said. "Now me and Ryky have to try to be Austin, even though we're not as good as he is at point guard."

Nicholas also added 15 rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocks.

Senior forward Bryton Abel pitched in 15 vital points for the Golden Knights. He and Nicholas combined for 42 of the team's 48 points.

Eastern took its biggest lead midway through the third quarter, when Nicholas' incisive crossover and pull-up jumper gave the Knights a 41-25 lead.

Delone (2-2, 0-1 in YAIAA Division IV) could have made things closer, if not for a wasteful shooting night. The Squires finished 13-of-50 from the field.

Delone trailed by 12 heading into the fourth quarter but didn't score in the frame until Brett Smith's 3-pointer with 3:35 remaining.

Eastern York’s Andrew Nicholas and Delone’s Mark Staub lie on the court as Eastern’s Bryton Abell (32), Delone’s Alex Hoffman (10)
Eastern York's Andrew Nicholas and Delone's Mark Staub lie on the court as Eastern's Bryton Abell (32), Delone's Alex Hoffman (10) and Seth Bullers (5) fight for an errant shot Friday. The Golden Knights beat the Squires, 48-36. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Bil Bowden)

"When you shoot 30 percent and you only go to the line 12 times, it's hard to score," Delone coach Jim Dooley said. "Thirty-six points ... you're not beating anybody good with 36 points."

Eastern is still hoping to have Tillotson -- who fractured a bone in his thumb -- back by the end of January, Fisher said.

For at least one night, the Golden Knights answered a few questions about how they'll look without him.

"I'm better now," Fisher said. "I feel really comfortable with those two guys (Nicholas and Smith) at the point."

jclayton@ydr.com; 771-2045

DELONE CATHOLIC (36)<nm>
   Smith 3 0-0 7, Bullers 0 0-0 0, Hoffman 3 1-1 8, Dye 0 0-0 0, Mark Staub 4 5-7 14, Comp 3 1-2 7, Raber 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 7-10 36.
EASTERN YORK (48)<nm>
   Bailey 1 0-2 2, Smith 0 2-2 2, Reichard 0 0-0 0, Stoutzenberger 0 0-0 0, Hershner 1 0-0 2, Bryton Abel 4 6-6 15, Taylor 0 0-0 0, Andrew Nicholas 11 3-5 27. Totals 17 11-15 48.
Delone    8  10  13    5 -- 36
Eastern  16  10  17    5 -- 48

   3-point goals -- Delone Catholic 3 (Smith, Hoffman, Staub), Eastern York 3 (Abel, Nicholas 2)
   J.V. score -- Delone Catholic 44, Eastern York 39.