Notes: West York gets a big win, Abel returns
After losing four-straight games, West York needed a win -- any win -- to restore morale and begin their road to recovery. What they got Wednesday on the opening night of the West York Holiday Tournament was a how-did-they-do-that? escape, the sort of win out of which momentum is often born. It will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs (2-4) build on their 92-89 double-overtime victory against Manheim Township. Will it be the springboard West York uses to get back to the top of YAIAA Division II? Or will this game in itself serve as a high-water mark. In the meantime, the Bulldogs will worry about an intriguing tournament final Thursday night, when they meet Eastern York. But there were certainly some encouraging signs to take from this victory. West York's up-tempo offense finally clicked back into gear. Five players finished in double figures for the Bulldogs, who had 37 points by halftime. Consider that in their previous game, a double-digit loss to Dover, West York scored just 34 points. And the Bulldogs certainly missed a few looks in close, meaning there were even more points out there to be had. Perhaps the most encouraging part of this -- more uplifting than the comeback or the clutch plays -- was the fact West York did all these things against a good team. Manheim Township was 6-0 coming into Wednesday night's game, and featured a talented guard-forward combo in Tyler Mitchell and Jomar Guerrero. If West York can win this sort of game against that team, there's no reason they shouldn't compete with anybody in the YAIAA. After the jump, a few other notes from my Wednesday night at West York... Waiting for the call: Midway through his postgame conversation with the press, West York coach Bill Ackerman's phone rang. These days the coach never ignores a phone call. His wife, Jenny, is nine months pregnant with their second child. This call wasn't from Jenny, but Ackerman is always prepared. During games, he gives his cell phone to one of his team managers near the bench. "I say 'If the name Jenny pops up, answer it,'" the coach said. Abel returns: Eastern York forward Bryton Abel arrived at West York's gym as a visitor for the first time Wednesday. The senior transferred to Eastern from West York during the summer, and has become a vital player down low for the Golden Knights. He notched 13 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday's win against Central Dauphin East, and is averaging 9.7 points per game so far this season. Abel said he received messages from a few of his former West York teammates before last night's game. "I talked to a couple," Abel said. "We're still friends. They understand the move and everything." Abel moved to Eastern with his father, who he said wanted to move closer to his family. At one point during Wednesday's nightcap, West York's student section started a brief, good-natured "We want Abel" chant directed at the senior, who was seated maybe 30 feet away. With Abel and Andrew Nicholas slashing toward the basketball, the Golden Knights piled up many of their 61 points inside the paint Wednesday. Eastern made six of its first seven shots in the fourth quarter, all of those coming on shots inside the lane. "With two guys like Red and Bryt, there's no reason why we shouldn't be pushing that ball inside a little bit," Eastern coach Larry Fisher said. Close to milestone: With his 26 points Wednesday, Nicholas pushed closer to 2,000 career points. The 6-foot-6 senior needs just nine to reach the milestone, and become just the fifth YAIAA boys' player to reach 2,000. Nicholas was efficient on Wednesday, shooting 10-of-20 from the floor. And though the lefty had a tendency to fall in love with his jumper, Nicholas scored many of those points against the Panthers in close. "He'll get outside," Fisher said. "You never have to tell him to take the shot from the outside. Sometimes coaxing him inside is the issue." Nicholas also dished five assists Wednesday, including three in the third quarter. Injury update coming?: Fisher said that Eastern may know more about a timetable for point guard Austin Tillotson's return on Thursday. The senior, who is nursing a fractured right wrist, will meet with doctors earlier in the day. It seems the returning all-state pick is in a hurry to get back on the floor. "He asked me if he got cleared could he play tomorrow night?" Fisher joked. "He's on me every day."