It might feel like years for Central York and William Penn since the last time their boys' basketball teams played each other. In the case of the Dover and York Catholic girls, it has been that long.
The YAIAA basketball championships are finally here, after both games were postponed because of this week's snow storm.
Such a scenario is nothing new for the Central-William Penn match up. Their second regular-season meeting was postponed to the first Monday in February. Then pushed back to later in the week. Then cancelled. Their last meeting — and only game — came Dec. 20, 2013, and it was a 63-48 Panthers victory.
Much has changed since then. While Central (21-2) has been a model of consistency, the Bearcats (18-5) ride a 10-game win streak into Saturday's title game inside the Charles Wolf Gymnasium at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center. William Penn's run began with a lineup shuffle that sent senior point guard Stephen Dickson to the bench. He became the Bearcats' sixth man, as coach Troy Sowers went with a starting five of two juniors and three sophomores.
"Convincing him to take that role, they've adjusted to it well," Central coach Kevin Schieler said. "That's what makes me so nervous about this game."
At least they have prior experience against one another.
The Dover (20-2) and York Catholic (20-3) girls will follow the boys' title game. Their semifinal wins Wednesday at Dallastown offered each with a first up-close glimpse. Third-year Dover coach Troy Lokhaiser has seen his group through youth leagues and couldn't recall facing a York Catholic team. The Eagles were more than familiar with Division II-rival Susquehannock, which was eliminated Wednesday by the Irish.
"When the game was over, I saw the score and said 'Oh my God,'" Dover senior Alayah Hall said.
Her team promptly followed with a 21-point victory against West York to set the stage for Saturday's title games. Here's a look at them:
YAIAA Boys' Championship
William Penn (18-5) vs. Central York (21-2)
Time: 5 p.m., at York College
Projected William Penn starters: Trey Shifflett (5-11, So., G), Kristopher Johnson (6-5, So., G), D'Montie Shaw (6-1, Jr., G), Jahaire Wilson (6-3, Jr., F), Brandon Smallwood (6-4, So., F).
Projected Central York starters: Peter Falci (5-8, Jr., G), Royce Clemens (6-1, Sr., G), Sam Saxton (6-2, Jr., G), Andrew Sauers (6-0, Sr., F), Charlie Gingrich (6-3, So., F).
Bearcats' key: Three of its players — Shifflett, Wilson and Dickson — were contributors for William Penn when it won the league title last year at York College.
Panthers' key: Schieler said after the semifinals Gingrich does not have to score to contribute. His rebounding presence (12 vs. Red Lion) could be a tremendous equalizer vs. the Bearcats' front line.
YAIAA Girls' Championship
York Catholic (20-3) vs. Dover (20-2)
Time: 8 p.m., at York College
Projected York Catholic starters: Deanna Chesko (5-6, Sr., G), Anne Lehr (5-6, Jr., G), Zaenna Echevarria (5-9, Sr., F), Marissa Ressler (5-9, Jr., F), Hannah Laslo (6-1, Jr., F).
Projected Dover starters: Alayah Hall (5-7, Sr., G), Maxine Herman (5-7, Sr., F), Megan Lokhaiser (5-11, Sr., F), Lindsey Fowler (5-8, Sr., F), Marissa McMahon (5-11, Jr., P).
Irish key: Slowing down Hall, who averages 17.0 points, is priority No. 1. The Irish were able to hold Susquehannock to 39 points in the semifinals.
Eagles' key: Speaking of defense, Dover has given up just 37.1 points per game — a league-best average.