Eastern's big injury, and other hoops thoughts
We are nearly a week into the high school basketball season, and perhaps the biggest story so far has nothing to do with any of the games played. The Eastern York boys received a significant blow this week, when an MRI revealed a stress fracture in point guard Austin Tillotson's right wrist. The early prognosis is for Tilltoson, a first-team all-state selection last season, to return in late January. Then again, the injury is to Tillotson's right shooting wrist, which makes matters more tricky. We'll have to see if that timeline actually holds true. I'll pass along any updates as we get them. For now, what does Tillotson's injury mean? For the last three seasons, Eastern has been looked at as a two-man show, with Tillotson and fellow senior Andrew Nicholas leading the way. There are plenty of other players that make the Golden Knights successful, of course, but those two make them special. And now one of them is out for at-best a month, and perhaps longer. Depth figured to be Golden Knights' biggest bugaboo coming into the season, and now they'll be stretched even thinner. Nicholas is a proven commodity, as are transfer forward Bryt Abel and senior guard Ryky Smith. You know what you're going to get from those three. Outside of them? It's hard to say. Fisher said a pair of sophomores, Dalton Reichart and Ryan Bailey, will likely step into starting roles. Both had battled for the fifth starting spot before the season, and Fisher expressed confidence in them earlier this week. "They did a nice job last night," Fisher said Tuesday, referring to Eastern's season-opening, 54-20 win against York County Tech. "Right now we're getting them experience and getting them into the flow of the offenses and the defenses." The rest of Eastern's bench is equally unproven. Think back to last year's postseason run. How many big 3-pointers did then-seniors Davin Zimmerman and Mark Bailey drain off the bench? The Knights need new players to step up this year, although with Tillotson and Nicholas they figured to be able to mask any lack of depth up at least up until the postseason. Now, those new role players will have to grow up fast. Eastern's schedule picks up a tad, with a game against Delone Catholic Friday and West York's holiday tournament coming up. In January, the Golden Knights will play showcase games against Scranton, Archbishop Carroll and Chester. There is another school of thought here: That Tillotson's injury may help the Golden Knights in the long run by giving their younger players more game-experience. And that could be true. Of course, that's assuming that Tillotson does indeed return at something close to 100 percent. If that doesn't happen, Eastern's going to have a hard time repeating the successes of last season. With Tillotson, this team is probably a state title contender. Without him ... well, we should get a better grasp of that in the coming weeks. Big and tall: I got my first look at Dallastown on Wednesday, when the Wildcats ground out a 60-46 win against West York. And while we know about Dallastown's scoring ability -- keyed by Vermont commit Four McGlynn -- one other characteristic stood out about these Wildcats. Their size. Dallastown rotates in four players 6-foot-3 or taller. One in particular caught my eye on Wednesday: 6-foot-6 junior Manny Mossengo. Mossengo may not light up the scoreboard -- he only had two points Wednesday -- but he's still capable of changing games with his length and athleticism. He pulled down a team-high 14 rebounds against the Bulldogs, with six of those coming in the first quarter. In Dallastown's opening night win against Lancaster Mennonite, the rangy junior swatted away eight -- yes, eight -- blocks. Add in Eric Thomas (6-3), Ben Kline (6-3) and Ford Reinalda (6-5), and Dallastown should be tough to handle inside and on the glass this season. Tough call: Speaking of YAIAA Division I, how fun is this race shaping up to be? Dallastown has looked good so far. William Penn has showed promise, and hung around with Reading last week despite missing Kelvin Parker. And Central York has two stingy wins, sandwiched around a loss to Bishop McDevitt. Oh, and Red Lion is hanging around at 2-1, as well. Of all the division races, this might end up being the most interesting to watch play out. I liked what I saw from Dallastown last night, though they're certainly capable of playing even better. Central York returns almost all of its pieces from last season. And I tend to think people are underrating William Penn a bit. The Bearcats are somewhat unproven, but they have the returning Division I player of the year (Parker), a skilled forward (Zach Newby) and some good young guards. We'll see how quickly that group comes together. The best get better: That phrase seems to best sum up the girls' hoops scene so far. After a state semifinal appearance last season, Red Lion looks strong once again. The Lions throttled Spring Grove on Wednesday, and have started the season 3-0. Don Dimoff's team once again looks set to run away with Division I. Meanwhile, the two top girls players in the area -- York Catholic's Kady Schrann and Delone's Sierra Moore -- have both posted eye-popping performances so far. Schrann dropped 43 points in a season-opening win against Trinity, one of the district's top programs. Moore, meanwhile, scored a career-high 30 in a win against Bishop McDevitt. Should be fun to see those two square off twice -- or three or four times -- this season. Ram power: I said it before the season, but I'll continue to repeat it: Keep an eye on the Kennard-Dale girls. The Rams have lots of returning talent after sharing the Division II title last year. So far, they've won their first three games by an average of 25.7 points. Senior Devon O'Kane leads the team with 18 points per game, while sopohomore Sara Tarbert is averaging a double-double (13.3 points, 11.3 rebounds). Those two give Kennard-Dale a solid pair of forwards, surrounded by lots of experience at the guard spots. Then again, we should get a better sense of exactly where Kennard-Dale stands Monday, when the Rams visit Red Lion.