With the YAIAA basketball tournaments in full swing, it's easy to forget that the District 3 playoffs start this Friday.
York and Adams counties will be well represented, with 13 teams competing on the boys' side alone. Every local team's first-round matchup will come against a school from outside the area, meaning most players will be generally unfamiliar with their opponents.
Let's preview the action by taking a look at five predictions for the District 3 boys playoffs.
Which team will go furthest?
It's hard not to pick York Country Day. The top seed in Class A, the Greyhounds are still undefeated at 19-0 and are the only Class A team with fewer than five losses this season. And the Greyhounds aren't just beating teams, they're blowing them out on a pretty consistent basis. Northeastern transfers D.J. Hamilton and DeAireus Brown have boosted coach Corey Stiles' rotation, and the Greyhounds are determined to make some noise in the state playoffs. They have a very good shot at winning the Class A tournament.
Outside of Class A, you have to look at Central York, Spring Grove and Northeastern in Class AAAA as the teams most likely to go on a run. The competition will be fierce, but those three teams — all seeded in the top-4 — are deep, talented and determined.
Who could be a Cinderella story?
I'm going to go with Gettysburg, which is the No. 10 seed in Class AAA. The Warriors (12-8, 7-7 YAIAA Division II) have had an up-and-down season, and they enter the tournament in the midst of their second three-game losing streak this season. But Gettysburg is a talented bunch, led by shifty guard Marquise Camel and sharpshooter Max Lampe. If the Warriors get hot from behind the arc and force their opponent to play at a fast pace, they can beat most teams on any given night. They'll have to upset seventh-seeded Palmyra first, but if they do that, the Warriors will have a solid chance to get back to the state playoffs for the second straight season.
Which team should brace against an upset?
If we're talking first-round upset, I'm going to pick Delone Catholic. The Squires (10-12, 10-4 YAIAA Division III) have struggled for much of this season, but they are still No. 7 in Class AA. They've played well against lesser competition this season, and they definitely should be favored against their first-round opponent Antietam (9-12). But they're still the pick here because of their inconsistency. It's hard to think any of the top teams in Class AAA or Class AAAA will lose their first game.
Who will be the biggest impact player?
So many players to choose from. You could go with Central York's Jared Wagner, Northeastern's Kobi Nwandu or Eastern York's Broguen Nicholas among others. But I'm still going to go with Spring Grove's Eli Brooks. The Rockets have some very good supporting players, but they seem to get a difference-making performance from Brooks every time they play. Spring Grove is going to face some really tough competition in Class AAAA, and Brooks will need to deliver if the Rockets are going to win the tournament.
What's one potential matchup to watch for?
There's a chance Spring Grove and Central York could play for the third time this season in the YAIAA championship game, but the teams also would meet in the District 3 Class AAAA semifinals if each wins its first two games. The Panthers won both matchups this season by the same score, 53-50. It'll be interesting to see what happens if they meet again.