Two Eastern starters out for Carroll game
The Eastern York boys' basketball team's towering task on Friday just got even tougher. When the Golden Knights take the floor for their PIAA Class AAA first-round game against Archbishop Carroll, they will do so without two starters. Eastern coach Larry Fisher said Thursday that seniors Ryky Smith (knee) and Bryton Abel (virus) will both miss Friday's 6 p.m. contest at Hempfield High School. Fisher said a third starter, sophomore Dalton Reichard, has battled an illness all week, and it's uncertain how much he will contribute. It's one more spat of injuries for an already-thin Eastern squad. The Golden Knights (24-4) previously saw star point guard Austin Tillotson slowed first by a fractured wrist at the beginning of the season, and then by a bout of bronchitis during the district playoffs. "This is completely opposite last year," Fisher said. "Last year we didn't have so much as a kid sniffle." The latest flurry couldn't come at a worse time. Fisher said Abel (pictured above) has struggled with a virus, and has been unable to practice all week. His size and scoring (10.1 points per game) will be sorely missed, especially against a Carroll front line that includes 6-foot-5 forward Tracy Peal. Smith, a scrappy senior guard, sprained his knee during the district championship game loss to Lancaster Catholic. He returned to play in the second half of that game, but will not be able to go Friday. Fisher said both could possibly come back for the second round. But first Eastern will have to upset Carroll (21-5), ranked the No. 2 Class AAA team in the state by the Patriot-News. To do that, the Golden Knights will likely need career nights from Division I seniors Andrew Nicholas and Tillotson. "The game's not being rescheduled. We're playing tomorrow. We expect to win," Fisher said. "We've got great leadership. Any time you have Andrew and Austin in the lineup, you still feel pretty good about your chances. And that's how the guys are looking at it."