The Bulldogs are preparing for tough Division II competition this season. Christian Arnold
Coach, players believe additional bodies can help bring out best in point guard Josh Bailey
The West York boys’ basketball team had a good season last year, but head coach Bill Ackerman and the rest of the Bulldogs are far from satisfied with how things panned out.
The Bulldogs went 18-8 in 2014-15 with plenty of regular season success, but their playoff performance left some things to be desired. They were knocked out by William Penn in the semifinals of the YAIAA tournament and their season came to end with a loss to Berks Catholic in the District 3 Class AAA consolation game.
“I thought we were inconsistent last year,” Ackerman said. “I just think we lacked the leadership that we really needed. I don’t think that’s the case this year and I think that just comes with being through the fires from the last couple years.”
Ackerman has four returning starters this season, including last year’s leading scorer Josh Bailey. The 5-foot-8 point guard averaged 14.2 points per game last season and was a key asset for the Bulldogs. Bailey will play an important role this season, again, but Ackerman noted that because of their depth they can take some of the pressure off Bailey.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Josh wasn’t our leading scorer this year,” he explained. “Because we have so many guys that can get the job done and I think that makes Josh more comfortable too. He doesn’t feel like he has to force things, which I think he did at times last year. I haven’t seen that in the preseason or the last couple weeks.”
Bailey welcomes the help, saying “it feels great” to have the added depth.
“I think it’s needed this year especially,” he added.
Among those who will help take some of the pressure off Bailey will be Darian McCauley, the team’s second-leading scorer last year. McCauley, who averaged 10.8 points per game, said Bailey was a great scorer and that the team tries to find ways to get him open.
McCauley feels that individually playing a strong game will help take the focus off Bailey during a game.
“Trying to get my hands on the ball as well,” he explained. “Work the same amount of how (Bailey’s) working too. Come off screens really hard and cut through the lane really hard. Just try and create my own shot to get open and get points for the team.”
The distribution of scoring will be crucial for the Bulldogs, who expect a dog fight against their YAIAA Division II opponents. West York was 11-3 in their division last year, but Ackerman believes their divisional opponents have only gotten better since last season.
“I guess you have to pick Northeastern as the top dog based on all the talent coming back, but Eastern is going to be right there,” Ackerman explained. “Gettysburg is going to be right there. Suburban is going to take a step forward this year…
“It’s really going to be a war, it really is. It’s going to be exciting and we loaded up our non-league schedule to really get us ready, not just for the postseason, but for freaking regular season.”