NEW HOLLAND - One by one, a teary-eyed group of York Country Day Greyhounds exited the locker room at Garden Spot High School Tuesday night to a round of applause from their faithful fans.
Yes, these fans had just seen their undefeated Greyhounds get beat up and down the court by Phil-Mont Christian, 71-45, ending York Country Day's season in the second round of states. But these fans were smiling, and one by one, those teary-eyed Greyhounds started to smile too. Why?
"Because we made history just now," junior guard DeAireus Brown said. "This season, this whole year. 23-1? No one else in the school has done that ever. District championship? No one else ever did that. Making it this far? We did it once and that was years ago (2002). I mean it hurts, but one thing we can do is keep our heads up and come back next year."
Brown was right. This was a program that struggled to top five or six wins for a good portion of the last decade, so there was no reason to hang their heads Tuesday night.
"I told them to keep their heads up because you can't overlook this season," head coach Corey Stiles said. "I mean 23-1, undefeated regular season, won three games in districts, district champs and you go to states. You can't hold your head down after that. You have to be proud of that. Yes, you lost and none of us are happy but at the same time, you look back and say it was a heck of a year."
It was an impressive season, and Tuesday the Greyhounds just ran into a bigger, stronger team. Phil-Mont Christian's three forwards, who range from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-8, combined for 53 points. The Falcons shot 70 percent through the first three quarters, mostly on layups. And when they did have a rare miss, one of the forwards scooped up an offensive rebound and scored.
"That's a very good team," Stiles said of Phil-Mont Christian. "The 6-foot-8 kid and even the 6-foot-4 kid, they killed us...We need to get stronger and more physical in the offseason. We need to work on our explosion and speed and that way we can hang with these teams. We have the talent to play with them, we just weren't physical enough."
Brown, who finished with 18 points, added: "They were definitely better (than we expected). We weren't prepared for that. But it's a learning experience...We have to learn how to take care of the ball as a team and play defense correctly."
Brown and the Greyhounds will have all offseason to work on their defense, then another playoff push is a legitimate goal in 2016-17 with York Country Day returning all but one player.
"The bar is set high for us now," Brown said. "Really high. So we just have to come back."
Phil-Mont Christian 71, York Country Day 45
Phil-Mont Christian (71)
David Giuliani 9 1-3 19, Osaze Thornton 8 1-2 18, Sean Griffin 8 0-2 16, Noah Baldez 5 1-2 11, M. Steiger 1 0-0 3, Olinger 1 0-0 2, Shaw 1 0-0 2. Totals — 33 3-9 71.
York Country Day (45)
DeAireus Brown 8 2-4 18, Jordan Ray 4 1-2 10, T. Wymard 4 1-1 9, Hamilton 1 0-0 3, Goodstein 1 0-0 3, Gertz 1 0-0 2, Greisler 0 0-0 0, Yerg 0 0-0 0, J. Wymard 0 0-0 0, Lee 0 0-0 0. Totals — 19 4-7 45.
Phil-Mont Christian_ 23 _ 21 _ 21 _ 6 _ — _ 71
York Country Day _ 16 _ 9 _ 15 _ 5 _ — _ 45
3-point goals — PMC 2 (Steiger, Thornton), YCD 3 (Ray, Hamilton, Goodstein)