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Even now, three years later, Thomas McInerney remembers his first YAIAA Tournament experience.

York Suburban's 6-foot-5 senior was a freshman then. The Trojans were undefeated, heading into a first-round league tournament matchup with Central York.

"We were 21-0 then and just cruising," McInerney said after Suburban's 64-44 win against Red Lion in its YAIAA tourney opener Tuesday. "They came in here and beat us. I never really wanted to feel that again.

"Understanding that as a freshman, it really helped me focus. Once the postseason comes, I know I have to bust it."

In other words, McInerney understands the opportunity in front of his team. Suburban (20-2) could advance to the YAIAA tournament finals if it can upset William Penn (20-3) Thursday night at Central York. The Trojans will also be a No. 3 seed when they open up District 3, Class AAA tournament play on Tuesday.

McInerney might be the biggest reason Suburban is here. He's averaging 17.1 points per game, but equally important might be his "calming influence," as Suburban coach Tom Triggs put it, on this Trojans team.

Take Tuesday's win against Red Lion. McInerney only scored 14 points. But he hit 4-of-4 field goals, hauled in 10 rebounds, and helped conduct Suburban's offense during an extremely efficient second half. The Trojans shot 7-of-9 from the field in the fourth quarter, many of those coming on easy lay-ups by Kevin Donahue (22 points).

Though McInerney didn't score a ton of points, he had his finger prints all over the victory. Despite being a presence inside on offense, McInerney (who will attend Division III Hamilton College in upstate New York next year) is also one of Suburban's better passers and ball-handlers.

"When you look at how much he touches the ball, maybe except for Sean Hinnenkamp or Kevin Donahue when he plays the point, Thomas has the ball a heck of a lot," Triggs said. "He's a very good decision-maker. We want the ball in his hands. And he's a good passer. He's just a good player. I wish I had five of him."

That sort of pressence has been vital for a Suburban team that lost several key parts -- including Mitch Kemp and Ryan Kinard -- from last year's district championship team.

Others have stepped up, too. Kevin Donahue is averaging 14.2 points per game, while Cody Waltimyer and Ryan Triggs, among others, have provided energy and production on the defensive end and rebounding.

"Certain guys that didn't really get a lot of time last year stepped up throughout the season," McInerney said. "They've really prepared themselves to be ready for games like this."

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