York, PA - The strategy is one born out of necessity. The Central York boys' basketball team knows its shortcomings. Its players don't have to look in the mirror to know they're not the tallest bunch.
But they also know this: You don't need height to play torrid, man-to-man defense. You don't need to height to make your opponents labor for every shot.
The Panthers proved as much Friday night, during a 56-39 cross-division win over visiting Dover. Central York challenged every inbounds pass. It cycled through its bench to keep fresh legs on the court.
"We've been saying it since the end of last season," Central York coach Kevin Schieler said. "Due to our lack of height, we knew defense was going to have to do it for us."
The results were evident Friday, both on the scoreboard and the stat sheet. Central York forced 23 turnovers -- 14 in the first half -- and hounded the Eagles' long-range shooters. Dover shot 13-for-35 from the floor, but just 2-for-17 from 3-point-range.
Such defensive intensity had been visible in spurts during the Panthers' first few games. This time, Central York (2-2, 1-0 YAIAA Div. I) put together a complete outing.
"If we just play lazy defense, then everybody will just throw the ball over the top of us because we're so short," Central York point guard Corey Hartz said. "Once we get a turnover, it's like everybody picks up after each other."
That rotation paid even bigger dividends on the defensive end, where Dover's ball-handlers were under constant duress. The Eagles scored seven points in the first quarter, and just five in the second.
A Hartz runner at the halftime buzzer capped an 8-1 run, and gave Central York a 29-12 lead.
"That was some pretty tenacious pressure," Dover coach Brian Schmoyer said. "But we knew it was going to be that way. The scouting report said that they were a pressure defense."
The Eagles were led by sophomore guard Ryan Beck -- one of four Dover starters who played junior varsity last season -- who had 14 points. Senior center Josh McMahon, the team's lone holdover, was limited to eight points.
The few times Dover (3-1, 1-1 YAIAA Div. II) did rally, Central York was able to counter. The Eagles cut the gap to 29-21 early in the third quarter, before Hartz kick-started a 10-0 Panthers run with a steal, two assists and a tough lay-up.
Later, when Dover crept within nine midway through the fourth, Central blunted that push with another 10-point spurt fueled largely by -- what else? -- a flurry of turnovers.
It was indicative of the way they game had gone, and how the Panthers will need to play this season to contend in Division I.
"That's all we talk about at practice, really pressing the ball and harassing," Schieler said. "That's what we want to see every night. That's what we have to have."
Howard 0 0-0 0, Walter 0 0-0 0, Ryan Beck 3 7-8 14, Mummert 3 0-0 6, McMahon 3 2-6 8, Snyder 2 0-0 4, Breneman 0 0-0 0, Workman 2 2-2 7, Renda 0 0-0 0. Totals13 11-16 39.
CENTRAL YORK (56)
Corey Hartz 5 2-5 12, Snyder 0 0-0 0, Falci 1 0-0 2, Shaffer 0 0-0 0, Darian Hampton 4 2-2 10, Sauers 2 2-2 6, Salter 0 0-0 0, Saxton 3 3-4 9, Clemens 4 0-1 8, Wagner 1 0-0 2, Gardner 3 0-0 7. Totals 25-17-24 68.
Dover 7 5 13 14 -- 39
Central York 15 12 12 17 -- 56
3-point goals -- Dover 2 (Ryan Beck, Zach Workman); Central York 1 (Ryan Gardner).
JV score -- Central York 61, Dover 22.