Eastern goes inside, takes YAIAA championship
We need to work something out. Figure out a way to get Eastern York and William Penn to play during the regular season.
Because as exciting as Saturday afternoon YAIAA final was at an electric, sold-out Grumbacher Center, once a year isn't enough.
This game was exciting on a lot of levels. First off, there was more than an hint of a rivalry here. Eastern wanted retribution for its league championship loss last year. And I have a feeling William Penn didn't jive with Eastern being christened the golden boys of York-Adams hoops this year.
The result might not have featured as many points as some people expected. But it was hotly contested game, to the point of being chippy at times. In the end, Eastern York dug deep to rebound from a less-than-stellar first half to earn a 62-55 win.
The Golden Knights second half was impressive on a lot of levels, especially when contrasted with their 7-for-31 shooting effort in the first half. The big difference, for me, was Eastern's ability to get inside and create easy buckets in the second half.
After the jump, I do my best to break down statistically how the Golden Knights turned Saturday's game around.
In the first half, Eastern York settled for too many jump shots. Austin Tillotson admitted jokingly after the game he hoped the Golden Knights 3s from their blowout of West York on Thursday would "come with us." Eastern hit 16-of-25 from beyond the arc in that victory.
Compare that to Saturday, when the Golden Knights finished 3-of-12 from 3-point land. Eastern jacked up shots in the first half, rather than trying to work the ball inside. It relied too much on Andrew Nicholas and Austin Tillotson to create scoring chances, rather than incorporating all five players into the offense.
"Me and Austin the in first half were trying to do too much," Nicholas said. "In the second half we just ran our offense and got in sync and we started going inside more."
The shot chart numbers bear this out:
Shots outside the paint: 2-15
Shots inside the paint: 5-16
"In the past when things broke down it would be the Austin and Andrew show, and people would key on them," Fisher said. "We had lack of movement in the first half. In the second we vowed to get everybody involved."
Indeed, the second half was completely different. Eastern stampeded out of the locker room, scoring the first seven points of the third quarter to take a 31-30 lead.
The Golden Knights were able to establish an inside game. Nicholas at least tried to post up Bearcat defenders. And Nathan Bollinger turned in a unbelievable half, repeatedly penetrating and setting up teammates for lay-ups. He only scored 11 points, but for my money he was the most efficient player on the floor. Bollinger had a team-high seven assists.
Compare the second half shot chart numbers to the first:
Shots outside the paint: 3-7
Shots inside the paint: 10-13
Total : 13-20
The shots inside the paint are particularly staggering. It shows the sheer number of easy looks Eastern was able to produce in the second half. The Golden Knights were 7-of-8 from inside the paint in the third quarter alone. By comparison, William Penn took more jump shots in the second half, and consequently shot a lower percentage.
Obviously, I don't want this breakdown to be perceived as some crusade against the jump shot. I just think it illustrates how effective Eastern was at penetrating with its guards in the second half. Bollinger said afterward Eastern had pinpointed William Penn's rotations and switches inside as a weakness, and it was able to exploit that in the second half.
What you saw in the latter stages of Saturday's game was not the run-and-gun, 3-point chucking Eastern York team that many people know from the last two years. It was a different, more efficient group that showed a large measure of experience. Being able to rebound in the second half against a battle-tested, big-school power like William Penn says a lot. It's no wonder Eastern has to be considered the favorite heading into District 3, Class AAA tournament play.