Eastern York sees progress after brutal stretch
I was hoping to post these this morning, but better late than never, I suppose. Here are a few thoughts from my trip to Plymouth Whitemarsh High School on Friday night to see Eastern York take on mighty Chester... - This loss may have been more impressive than any of Eastern York's wins. A few things about Chester. First, they're big. The Clippers have six players 6-foot-4 or taller on their roster, all of whom got in the game Friday. Second, they're deeper than just about any high school basketball team you'll find. Chester plays 11 guys ... and not just in blowouts, either. All of those players receive significant playing time. How many high school teams can you find that go 11-deep, without a real noticeable drop-off? The effect of this is that Chester can bombard teams with a full-court press and run its transition-heavy style without wearing down. So while Eastern could keep up for three quarters on Friday, by the fourth quarter the Golden Knights were gassed. In other words, the Clippers certainly seemed worthy of their No. 1 state ranking in Class AAAA. Still, the fact that the Golden Knights never went away -- and arguably could have won the game, had their shooting not gone south -- was still pretty impressive. Eastern's first half was one of the best I've personally seen the Knights play in either of the past two seasons. It was certainly a huge improvement over their performance in the first of these showcase games, a 63-38 loss to Scranton. And really, that's what this was about. The Golden Knights scheduled these games to use them as a primer for the postseason. And, based on their performances, it seems they've improved these two weeks. (Of course, Austin Tillotson's health has a lot to do with that.) Eastern coach Larry Fisher made it clear he wasn't satisfied -- his exact quote Friday was "There's no winning in losing." -- but I don't think anyone on Eastern's sideline was disappointed with the team's effort Friday. And from a pure entertainment standpoint, it doesn't get much better than this one. End-to-end action. Great players. Two really good teams trading buckets with each other. It was simply a fun game to watch. - The lack of depth is a concern. This is undoubtedly one area where this Eastern team falls short of last year's. We knew the Knights might not have a Davin Zimmerman or Mark Bailey who could come off the bench to drain 3-pointers this year. But you have to think Eastern is going to get to a point in the postseason when it has to dip deeper into its bench. - Austin Tillotson looked like, well, Austin Tillotson. You could tell that right wrist was bothering him when he first got back in the lineup, but Tillotson is looking closer and closer to 100 percent. He played Friday for the first time this season without any protective tape on that wrist, and proceeded to score 15 points in the first quarter on 7-of-8 shooting. He was able to shoot -- and make -- a few 3-pointers without any noticeable restrictions. At least one member of Monmouth's coaching staff was in attendance Friday. I have to think he was pretty happy to see Tillotson and Nicholas combine for 51 points against a team of Chester's caliber. Then again, give the Clippers credit. They limited the duo to 17 points after halftime, as opposed to 34 in the first half. - Give Bryton Abel some credit. It didn't make it into my game story, but the senior forward dropped 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. He hit two treys in the third quarter to help keep the Golden Knights within striking distance heading into the final frame.