The William Penn Bearcats are staying as humble as possible as they open up the 2015-16 basketball season. The Bearcats are coming off their second straight District 3 championship, but they don’t see themselves as the team to beat.

“We try to stay humble and hungry,” Bearcats head coach Troy Sowers said. “If we’re the team to beat, I don’t know that. I think we have so much to work on that we’re just going to attack our weaknesses early in the season. Try to get better each day and be ready when the season tips off.”

Sowers mentioned rebounding as a potential weakness. One of last season's leading rebounders, Jahaire Wilson, graduated last season, which will force other players to fill in the role.

“It’s going to be rebound by committee this year," Sowers said. "Last year we could let Jahaire Wilson grab 14 a game, but he’s not here anymore. So I think rebounding is something we’re really going to have to work on, because it’s not really an instinctive skill for the guys we have coming back.”

To prepare for the season the players said they ran a lot to help with the team’s endurance during the season.

“We run a lot, and I think that helps us a lot when it comes to the season,” guard Kris Johnson said. “We wear teams down, and we stress it’s a 32-minute game. For 32 minutes we press, and we just play hard.

“Throughout the game you can see we still have more energy, while other teams are slowing losing it and getting fatigued.”

Sowers agreed.

“We try to be the most conditioned team in the district or the state,” he said.

Bulldogs rebuilding the engine

That’s the mantra for West York girls' basketball head coach Darrell Wildasin. The Bulldogs are without two 1,000-point scorers, Kari Lankford and Emily Wood, who graduated after last season. Who will replace the duo is still unknown as winter practices opened up.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a process,” Wildasin said. “This team has talent on it, and we have a couple of talented sophomores that will be getting a lot of minutes for us… Just have to bring all the pieces together, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Last season, the Bulldogs went 29-2 before falling in the second round of the state tournament. Wildasin understands that success brings added pressure on his squad.

“This is a new team, and this is the hand we’ve been dealt right now,” he said. “This is what’s exciting about being a high school coach. Every year is different. If you had the same group of kids back every year, I don’t know how that would be. It’s fun to try and build a team.”

The Bulldogs will focus on utilizing some of their younger members. Wildasin specifically mentioned sophomores Paige Weekly and Angie Hawkins.

“We seemed to have meshed well with the younger kids throughout the summer,” he said. “At open gyms and stuff. I think we’ll figure it out, but I don’t know how it’s all going to play out yet. One day at a time.”

Howley looks forward to first day

No matter how many times he has been through it, Dallastown swim coach Rich Howley always looks forward to the first official day of winter practice —at least most of it.

“Yes to see the kids, no to the paperwork,” Howley said with a smile inside the school’s natatorium as several dozen swimmers did their afternoon workout in the pool.

Howley has coached the Dallastown high school team since 1987, with the exception of a five-year hiatus when his own children were small. On top of that, he has been around the age group program for nearly 30 years.

“The children are what brings you back,” he said. “Is it the sport? No. It’s the kids. I love coaching kids and enjoy trying to make a difference in their lives.”

One of those in the pool on Monday was Spencer Hill, who set a District 3 Class AAA record during his gold medal 100 butterfly swim and went on to place eighth at the PIAA meet.

Although school started in late August, Hill said the reality that he is a senior set in on Monday when his final high school season started.

“It really hit me today. Swimming has been a big part of my life,” he said.

Like his coach, Hill looked forward to the first day of practice, mostly to be able to be around his friends in the water.

“We all like to push each other,” Hill said. “We are one big family that wants to keep the (Dallastown) legacy going.”

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