YAIAA basketball tournament preview
The YAIAA basketball tournaments open Friday and Saturday with several juicy first-round matchups on the docket.
The boys' tournament will start Friday with four quarterfinal matchups at West York and Red Lion. The girls' tournament follows on Saturday with doubleheaders at Dallastown and Dover. Follow live updates in GameTimePA's live blog.
Here's a look at the first-round matchups.
Who: York Catholic (16-4, 14-0 YAIAA Division III) vs. Eastern York (16-4, 10-3 YAIAA Division II)
When and where: 6 p.m. Friday at Red Lion
The skinny: After a mid-January loss to William Penn, the Fighting Irish closed the season with six straight wins. Malik Martin, Andrew Forjan, D’Andre Davis and a solid cast of role players lifted York Catholic to 16 wins. The knock on York Catholic was a lack of wins against quality opponents: The majority of the Irish wins came against sub-par Class AA teams in Division III. But Forjan and the Irish will have a chance to make a statement against the Golden Knights, who sit fourth in the Class AAA district rankings. Of Eastern’s four losses, three came to Class AAAA powerhouses Central York and Northeastern. The Knights, who boast an impressive inside-out combination with Broguen Nicholas and Jared Achterberg, closed the season by winning 14 of their last 15.
Who: Central York (18-2, 12-0 YAIAA Division I) vs. West York (12-7, 9-5 YAIAA Division II)
When and where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Red Lion
The skinny: These teams were supposed to meet in January, but the winter storm ruined those plans. Luckily for YAIAA hoops fans, the Panthers and Bulldogs will get another chance to square off. After an underwhelming early part of the season, West York got hot late, winning six in a row before falling to Northeastern by one in the season finale. They Bulldogs are well-coached and experienced, making them a hard out in this tournament. For its part, Central lost twice all season, and both losses came by a combined 11 points to high-quality opponents. Somehow the Panthers still feel underrated, even as they sit atop the Class AAAA rankings.
Who: Spring Grove (19-2, 10-2 YAIAA Division I) vs Hanover (16-6, 11-3 YAIAA Division III)
When and where: 6 p.m. Friday at West York
The skinny: Spring Grove is the clear favorite in this matchup between the second-place teams in divisions I and III. With only two losses this season, the Rockets come into the Friday's game riding a nine-game winning streak. Everybody will be looking forward to watching Spring Grove's Eli Brooks take on Hanover's Kyle Krout, but it could be the role players who ultimately decide the contest. Both stars will get their points, but Spring Grove has a proven secondary scorer in 6-foot-3 Darin Gordon, who might prove to be a matchup nightmare for undersized Hanover. If the Nighthawks have a chance to pull off the upset, they'll need strong performances from the likes of Hunter Martz and Will McQueen. Those two have played well all year long, but they’ll both need to score if Hanover expects to keep up with the high-powered Rockets.
Who: William Penn (12-9, 8-4 YAIAA Division I) vs Northeastern (19-1, 14-0 YAIAA Division II)
When and where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at West York
The skinny: This could be the most intriguing quarterfinal matchup in the boys' bracket. The defending YAIAA champions and two-time defending district champion Bearcats take on the Bobcats, who beat everyone on their schedule except … William Penn. It wasn’t a picture-perfect season for Troy Sowers and his Bearcats, who seemed to play close with nearly every District 3 powerhouse, but struggled to get wins. Six of their nine losses came by single digits. But here they are in the playoffs, and any team with that much talent and experience on the big stage will be a tough out. Don’t expect the Bearcats to roll over. Meanwhile, Northeastern has its eyes set on revenge. A slipup against this same Bearcats team was the only thing that prevented an undefeated regular season for Kobi Nwandu and company. Both teams press and play fast, but no team in the league scored as efficiently as Northeastern did this year. They’ll be the favorites to come out of the bottom half of the bracket.
Who: York Catholic (18-4, 11-1 YAIAA Division III) vs. Central York (20-2, 10-2 YAIAA Division I)
When and where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Dallastown
The skinny: These teams boast nearly identical numbers. Both average roughly 54 points and both give up roughly 38 points. The Panthers come in with momentum, having won 15 of their last 16 games, including Tuesday’s impressive victory against Red Lion. Central also owns a 55-37 win against York Catholic in which the Panthers' press defense forced 23 turnovers. The Fighting Irish, who won their last nine games, will have to take care of the ball in Saturday’s rematch if they hope to advance. Keep an eye on the matchup of two of the league’s top guards in this one — Kate Bauhof (York Catholic) vs. Emma Saxton (Central).
Who: Susquehannock (20-2, 14-0 YAIAA Division II) vs. William Penn (14-8, 7-5 YAIAA Division I)
When and where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Dallastown
The skinny: Two of the biggest surprises of the season square off in this quarterfinal. After a .500 season in 2014-2015, few expected Susquehannock to take such a giant leap forward. And the Bearcats, who went 7-15 in 2014-2105, are in the YAIAA playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. Fans will be able to see two of the league’s best forwards, Ashley Stone and Chyna Steele, square off. The Warriors have won 11 straight after losing twice to Central in December. Seven of those came by double digits. The Bearcats started the season 3-3 but finished strong and played well against strong competition. Can they keep their surprise season going?
Who: York Suburban (17-3, 11-2 YAIAA Division II) vs. Delone Catholic (16-5, 11-1 YAIAA Division III)
When and where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Dover
The skinny: This matchup pits the league’s top scoring offense — Delone Catholic — against the second-best defense — York Suburban. The Trojans have a bigger lineup that excels in defense and rebounding, while the Squirettes have used a four-guard lineup after the injury to forward Jill Novak. These teams met in the quarterfinals last season, as well, with Delone pulling off a comeback win, 51-42. Keep an eye on the Ally Shipley-Molly Day matchup. Each led her team in scoring at just over 11 points.
Who: Red Lion (19-2, 11-1 YAIAA Division I) vs. West York (14-7, 10-4 YAIAA Division II)
When and where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Dover
The skinny: The Lions were the dominant team in the YAIAA from start to finish, racking up 19 wins while losing only to Cocalico and Central. Courtney Dimoff, who is committed to play at Millersville next season, led the league in 3-pointers made (57) and free-throw percentage (87.5), and she was top five in scoring (14.5). Dimoff and the Lions will get the defending league champs in the first round. West York snuck in as the third team from Division II after posting 14 wins. The Bulldogs didn’t have any bad losses, but they didn’t have an overly impressive win either. A win here would change that. West York will counter Dimoff with Morgan Bamberger, who averaged just over 11 points per game and finished second to Dimoff in 3-pointers made (44).
Follow live updates
The GameTimePA.com reporting team will be out in full force for the YAIAA basketball tournaments. Follow the action in a live blog at GameTimePA.com, and check the live scoreboard on the mobile website or mobile app for instant results at your fingertips.