Winning season within reach for Bearcat girls
Supporting cast has William Penn flying high after upset of Central York
William Penn's 54-53 YAIAA Division I upset over a one-loss Central York team on Tuesday is the most notable victory in recent history for a Bearcats girls' basketball program trending upward this winter.
"This is the biggest highlight of the season for us so far," said William Penn junior Madey-Zania "Bink" Redman. "We were actually having a rough time (dropping a two-point game at Reading and a one-pointer against Mechanicsburg in the two games before Central York), but now, I think we are back on track. We're going to try and get some more wins because we know this team can be more than what a lot of people think it is."
William Penn senior Chyna Steele endured a five-win season as a freshman, a four-win campaign as a sophomore and a seven-win season last year.
Now, Steele and the Bearcats are entertaining the thought of a District 3 Class AAAA berth. William Penn is sitting at No. 16 in the power rankings after Tuesday's win. The Top-20 teams qualify.
"Districts, that's one of our goals," Steele said. "We'll just take it one game at a time."
This is a William Penn program that won a District 3 Class AAAA championship in 1984 and was runner-up in 1987. The 1987 team had future WNBA player Chantel Tremitiere and 2,000-point scorer Barb DeShields in its starting five.
But William Penn hasn't qualified for districts since 2001. The Bearcats last winning season was a 13-11 record back in 2004-2005.
That might be changing. In Larry Corbin's third year at the helm, William Penn (7-5, 3-3 Division I) matched its win total from a season ago with the stunner against Central York.
"This group of kids is a pretty special group," said Corbin, a 1993 York Catholic graduate. "With the exception of the last two games (before Tuesday), it's been fun. We've been up and down, but they are learning what it takes to win at this level. This is a core group that only lost four times in two years (at the junior high level). Ironically, those games were to Central and Red Lion."
With nine games remaining this season, a .500 record or better is within reach.
"I think it is very possible," Redman said. "With the teammates I have and the talent we have, I really think we can have a winning team."
Steele entered Tuesday's game with Central York as the No. 3 scorer in the league behind Jordyn Kloster of Northeastern and Kate Bauhof of York Catholic. The six-footer scored 13 points against the Panthers.
"Chyna is best when she pulls down the rebound and goes the length of the floor," Corbin said. "She's good everywhere. She's now the second-highest scoring player in Bearcat history, boys or girls. When she puts her mind to it, nobody can stop her. She can put the team on her back. We need her and she needs the rest of the team."
Sophomore Jasmine Beistline is scoring at an 11.4-point-per-game clip after Tuesday's win and has emerged as a solid secondary scorer behind Steele. The 5-foot-8 Beistline scored a team-high 18 points for the Bearcats in the win over Central York. Eleven of those season-high 18 came in the final quarter.
"Jasmine is a tough guard," Corbin said. "She can hit the 3. She can post up inside. That's one of the biggest things now. We have other options on offense. It's not Chyna scoring 40."
Another key cog has been the play of Redman. The 5-8 guard/forward is averaging 9.8 points per game over the first 12 contests with a season high of 21 against Mechanicsburg on Dec. 29. Redman played at York Country Day last season before returning to William Penn.
"Bink has the heart of a lion," Corbin said. "That really helps."
Senior guards Garia Kinard and Nakoya Beady play supporting roles. Kinard is back with the Bearcats after spending two years living in Maryland.
"Nakoya is one gritty player, she's tough," Corbin said. "She picks up her fouls, but that's because she is playing so hard. She doesn't get mentioned a lot because her contributions don't show up in the score book. She is a great defensive player and that's why she is out on the floor."
Guards Leah Hutchinson and Dejanay Givens also see chunks of playing time. Hutchinson, a junior, has hit six 3-point goals this season and twice has scored seven points. Givens, a senior, has hit six points in a game twice.
"Another reason I'm excited is that everybody is playing a part," Steele said. "It's not just one person. Assists, defense, rebounding. Everybody is playing a part."