High school basketball practices officially began this week, and William Penn boys' coach Troy Sowers received some good news.
York resident Montrel Morgan, who helped New Hope Academy to a District 3 Class A title in February before the charter school closed, had recently enrolled at William Penn and was cleared Tuesday to play basketball at the school. A 6-foot-2 junior point guard, he earned all-state honors as a sophomore in Pennsylvania's smallest classification. He now leaps up to play against the state's largest schools on a team that returns all five starters from its own District 3 title run.
The Bearcats' addition of Morgan is just the latest development in boys' basketball around the area. Ahead of the GameTimePA.com high school basketball preview, set to publish Thursday, Dec. 4 in the Daily Record and online, here is a primer for the upcoming season.
New Hope fallout
Last season in Hershey marked a banner season for the two schools within York's city limits. William Penn won its second district title since 2011 and New Hope claimed its first. The Class A Mighty Ants reached the PIAA quarterfinals, their last game in school history.
The New Hope community suffered a heavy loss when NaGus Griggs, a senior from last season's basketball team, was shot and killed in York just as this school year began. Griggs remains on the minds of his friends and former teammates who have found new schools.
While Morgan landed at William Penn, brothers Michael and Brandon Coleman took their talents to Northeastern. Former New Hope coach David Archer didn't move far, becoming basketball coach and athletic director at the new tuition-based Hilda Goodling Impact Academy, which resides in the same West King Street building once occupied by New Hope. Archer will be joined by former New Hope players Ny'Kam Beverly and Elliot Wilson, to name a few, at the new Class A school.
Boys' coaching moves
• Delone Catholic hired former Dover assistant Lawrence Williams to replace interim coach Tom Becker.
• York County Tech added Jim Collins to replace the retiring Terry Wallace.
• While it's not a change at the top, West York coach Bill Ackerman welcomed former York Suburban boss Tom Triggs to his staff.
Morgan isn't the only point guard enrolled at William Penn. Former two-year York Suburban standout C.J. Boxley moved into the city and also is on the Bearcats' roster. Delone Catholic senior standout Devon Moore, younger brother of Penn State's Sierra Moore, suffered an injury this spring that could sideline him for most -- if not all -- of this senior season.
The Squires will be without him and Jake Wiles, two of Delone's three would-be returning starters, for new coach Lawrence Williams.
Girls' coaching moves
• Dover hired former Red Lion product Marley Klunk to replace Troy Lokhaiser.
• Darrell Wildasin takes the reins at West York in place of Jon Shultz.
What about the league champs?
Speaking of the Dover girls, Klunk has a considerable rebuilding job in front of her. The Eagles graduated all but one starter. That includes all-state point guard Alayah Hall, who is now at Millersville. Senior Marissa McMahon, who started in the post, opted not to play.
As for the boys' side, Central York's cupboard is a little more full for coach Kevin Schieler. Leading scorer Sam Saxton, a senior committed to Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and 6-5 junior post Charlie Gingrich are back. Schieler said he worries about the defensive prowess lost from last season's league tournament championship squad. Guards Royce Clemens and Andrew Sauers were key factors to the Panthers giving up only 48 points per game, but the return of junior guard Jared Wagner should help in that area.
Step up in competition
Heartbreak followed Central's first league championship in 40 years. The Panthers entered last season's District 3 Class AAAA tournament as the top seed, only to be eliminated in the semifinals on a buzzer-beating leaner by Cedar Crest's Andrew Eudy.
Eudy's play prevented a potential all-YAIAA district final, but the league's presence in AAAA could get stronger.
Northeastern moves up from AAA. The Bobcats look to contend in YAIAA Division II play and impressed in offseason shootouts and scrimmages that included big-school opponents. Both Schieler and Sowers, who took their teams to Harrisburg coach Kirk Smallwood's invitational last month, said they liked the Bobcats after a 3-0 showing there. Earlier this summer, Northeastern won a summer league at Red Lion.
Northeastern coach Jon Eyster's club will welcome back its top three scorers -- 6-5 senior Derrick Hoffman, plus juniors Kobi Nwandu and Donovian Maxfield -- along with more youthful experience. Jeff Reynolds, who emerged as a first-year player on Northeastern's state championship volleyball team, also played last season as a sophomore. Now a sophomore, DeAireus Brown played as a freshman.
Then add in senior Michael Coleman, a 3-point specialist.
The YAIAA switched from four to three divisions, and Division II could be the most affected in both boys' and girls' leagues.
For the girls, defending Division I champ West York now moves back and still has four-year guards Kari Lankford and Emily Wood. The Bulldogs' chief rival could be a Northeastern squad that challenged Dover and Susquehannock in last season's Division II chase.
Also, the three-division format alters the YAIAA's eight-team league tournaments. Previous seasons had the top four from Divisions I and II paired with the top four from Divisions III and IV. Now, the league will take the top three from Division I. The top two from Division II are in. So are the top two from Division III. That leaves a wild card, which will be the third-place team from Division II or III. That team will be determined based on District 3 power ratings.
Dallastown's Amari Johnson, Northeastern's Payton Hauck and Delone Catholic's Maddie Comly had one thing in common this summer: all three committed to Division I college basketball programs.
Johnson signed her National Letter of Intent with Rhode Island last week after giving her verbal commitment this summer. Hauck did the same with Boston University. Comly is bound for Fairleigh Dickinson.
Scoring champ is here
Dover senior guard Ryan Beck averaged 24.3 points per game as a junior. No other boys' player in the YAIAA averaged 20. The next closest was Delone's Devon Moore, who put up a 19.0 average. Beck enters this season with 883 career points, eyeing 1,000 and potential college suitors.
His visits include Bloomsburg of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and American International College.
Here's a look at the boys and girls approaching 1,000 career points entering this season:
• Ryan Beck, Dover -- 883
• Devon Moore, Delone Catholic -- 870
• Dylan Krieger, Hanover -- 793
• Jahaire Wilson, William Penn -- 748
• Sam Saxton, Central York -- 643
• Broguen Nicholas, Eastern York -- 626
• Kari Lankford, West York -- 927
• Chyna Steele, William Penn -- 834
• Hannah Laslo, York Catholic -- 781
• Payton Hauck, Northeastern -- 697
• Soukaina Tracy, Hanover -- 683
• Amari Johnson, Dallastown -- 632
(Note: Maddie Comly of Delone Catholic has 1,010 points. Scoring corrections can be emailed by coaches to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
At the buzzer ...
Before we go for now, let's look back on last season in the form of buzzer-beaters. Here's a slew of last-second shots from a memorable 2013-14 high school basketball season: