New Oxford looking to prove it belongs in DI
Last season, the New Oxford boys' basketball team went into games just trying to be competitive.
Now, the Colonials are expecting to win.
New Oxford earned a monumental win for the program Tuesday night, beating typical Division I powerhouse William Penn, 75-73. It was the program's first win over the Bearcats since 2003, according to New Oxford athletic director Brandon Renoll.
The win improved the Colonials to 2-1 on the season. While it's still early, opening league play by beating a team that has won six Division I titles in the last seven years was a great way for New Oxford to start.
"It feels amazing, especially for the seniors who have been with me all four years that I've been here," head coach Sean Bair said. "We definitely thought it was winnable, but you still have to handle their pressure, they're still really good at finishing and just because you deserve a chance to win doesn't mean they're going to give it to you. Hopefully this can be a stepping stone."
While the win might seem surprising to casual observers, it's not shocking when you look at how New Oxford has played since the middle of last season. The Colonials finished 9-13 after starting 0-6, and brought back most of their lineup, including long-range shooter Jordin Brown and versatile forwards John Wessel and Ben Lehman.
The biggest challenge for New Oxford entering this season was turning some of last year's close losses into wins. The Colonials lost to Central York by three, Dallastown by five and William Penn by 12 after being blown out by those teams early in 2015-16.
Bair is hoping that Tuesday's win will be the start of a trend.
"At the end of the day, it's not enough anymore to be in the game or keep them under 80 (points) or under 70," the coach said. "We have to finish the job. Now our guys know the team's expectations and we don't have to spend time at practice on that. We can spend it working on skills and game preparation and things we haven't gotten to in the past."
The Colonials might be poised for a breakout season, but the rest of their schedule doesn't get any easier. Division I remains loaded with Spring Grove, Northeastern, Dallastown and Central York looming as potential contenders, and New Oxford has much to prove.
Still, the Colonials have come a long way since joining Division I in 2014-15. If the team can pair a low-post offense with its 3-point shooting, Bair thinks it can continue to win the games it used to lose.
"There are so many good teams and I know it sounds cliche but everybody can beat everybody," Bair said. "On any given night we can play with them and hopefully at the end of the year we're up there in the standings with them."