YAIAA boys' rankings: One team's chance at history
Watch the teams that are among the best in YAIAA boys' basketball this season. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
Coaches don’t like to look ahead.
Are you kidding?
That’s how teams lose ballgames.
They will worry about tomorrow when the sun rises, after the morning alarm rings.
Take Northeastern coach Jon Eyster. He laughed on Tuesday when asked about upcoming opponents and the district outlook.
He was concerned about Wednesday’s practice. Period.
Note: He was not joking.
Since there’s no need to hash out what everyone knows, that Northeastern has adjusted, quite well thank you, to the move to Division I.
Let a reporter do a little bit of looking ahead and answer one nagging question: What’s so special about this Northeastern team?
Northeastern has a chance to do something no team in its school history has accomplished, and it can do so before the District 3 tournament even begins. No Northeastern team has ever won the league tournament championship.
In recent years, we’ve seen players snap their team's long title droughts. Eli Brooks led Spring Grove to the program’s first league tournament since 1971 just last season.
A couple years before, Sam Saxton helped Central York snap its program’s title drought that dated to 1974.
That pales in comparison to the streak Northeastern will try to snap. From 1961 through present day, only one Northeastern team has appeared in a YAIAA tournament title game. The 2003 squad, with eventual 1,900-point scorer Levi Winters and eventual 1,300-point scorer Nate Fry in their junior seasons, lost to William Penn, 69-61.
Before that appearance, the last Northeastern-area team to appear in the league championship game came when Bill Fitzkee helped Manchester defeat Dallastown, 56-54, in the York County Scholastic League title game in 1957.
So this season really could be special for the Bobcats.
Take a look at which other teams rank near the top in the league. All records are updated through Saturday's games.
5. Eastern York (9-1)
The Knights are the team to beat in what could prove to be a crowded Division II race.
Jared Achterberg is a force down low, and the Golden Knights have shown no signs of slowing down following their surprising run to the District 3 final a year ago. Their only loss this year came to undefeated Northeastern. After a couple lean years following the back-to-back state semifinal appearances in 2010-11, Eastern has been restocked and rebuilt under Jon Reichard.
4. York Catholic (10-1)
A Division III schedule could hurt York Catholic come playoff time, since many teams in the division are down this year. The Irish will have to settle with trying to run the table in Division III and arriving focused against tough non-conference foes like they have done in wins against Berks Catholic and state-ranked opponents Lancaster Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic.
Balanced, the Irish continue to have an inside-outside game courtesy of post man Melik Martin and guards D’Andre Davis and Andrew Forjan. But what will keep the Irish on this list is their ability to play defense in the clutch like they did against Bethlehem Catholic and Lancaster Catholic.
3. Dallastown (8-3)
The Wildcats have depth, and they have great guard play. That’s a lethal combination in high school hoops, but the Wildcats have been forced to shuffle their lineup of late.
It was a tough week for a team that some think is the second-best squad in the league. After losses to South Western (2-9) and Spring Grove, Dallastown regrouped with Saturday's win against Penn Manor.
2. Spring Grove (7-3)
Nobody doubts the Rockets have a great player, especially not the folks at the University of Michigan. Eli Brooks can win games by scoring more than half of his team’s points.
The trouble comes when the Rockets need to score more than 70 points. Brooks either needs a huge game — and he’s had a couple just this week — or he needs his supporting cast to go above and beyond their normal production. After impressive wins against previously undefeated Middletown and Dallastown this week, the Rockets — and their improving supporting cast — look headed in the right direction.
1. Northeastern (11-0)
Did someone say depth? Did someone say guard play? Northeastern has both in spades.
The Bobcats' starting five could rival any in the region. Perhaps the one concern that remains will be the lack of a true big man, but that has yet to be an issue.
A seat at the gym in Manchester is tough to come by this season, and for good reason.
Central York (7-4), New Oxford (7-4), Dover (7-4).