Early predictions: Which YAIAA boys' teams will reach districts?
The New Oxford boy's basketball team hasn't qualified for the District 3 tournament since 2009, but this year's squad is closing in on securing a spot in the Class 5A bracket.
The District 3 boys' basketball power rankings are always a point of conversation.
A lot can change between now and late February — there's plenty of games to be played, and the difference between a win or loss can shuffle the deck dramatically.
Still, we love to prognosticate. Here's a look at where teams currently stand, how things can shift, and what can happen when postseason basketball tips off:
Greyhounds still top threat
York Country Day is back atop the rankings in Class 1A. The Greyhounds remain the favorite, even with head coach Corey Stiles out on administrative leave.
This team won a district title last year and has a ton of talent on its roster — Jordan Ray, DeAireus Brown and D.J. Hamilton, to name a few high-end players.
Early prediction: They're the top team. Expect a repeat as district champs.
Fairfield in as four-win team?
Yes. The Green Knights should get in, and who knows? They could make a move while they're at it.
The 2A field has just six teams gunning for the four-team bracket, and Fairfield is currently ranked fourth despite its 4-13 overall record.
This is one of the drawbacks of the state expanding to six classification this year. It's not Fairfield's fault. And you need at least four teams to have, you know, this thing called a tournament.
Still, the Green Knights' opponents' winning percentage is 48 percent. No. 1-seeded Millersburg sits at 43 percent, No. 2 Newport at 38 percent and No. 3 Halifax Area at 48 percent.
Early prediction: As long as they get into the tournament, the Green Knights could make a run. Really, in a four-team bracket, any team should be able to.
York Catholic ranked No. 1, but Trinity not far behind
Those two teams are the class of District 3 Class 3A. The Irish (15-1) and Shamrocks (10-2) played the first game of the season, with Trinity coming out on top, 55-41.
Another team that could challenge York Catholic is No. 3 Lancaster Mennonite, which holds a 15-2 overall record. One of those losses was to York Catholic, a 59-40 decision Jan. 14.
Delone Catholic (No. 8) and Hanover (No. 9) are currently on the outside looking in on the six-team tournament bracket. A lot can change between now and the postseason, particularly as it involves teams jostling for the bottom seeds in the bracket.
Early prediction: They came, they saw, they conquered. Trinity edges York Catholic in title game.
Eastern crashing down to earth
The season started out with great promise for Eastern York, but that feels like light years ago.
First, the Golden Knights lost standout senior forward Jared Achterberg to a torn ACL two weeks ago. Then, head coach Jon Reichard mysteriously disappeared from the team's bench in a recent game against Susquehannock, with no explanation from the school.
With that being said, the Golden Knights sit at 10-4 on the season and have a No. 5 ranking in District 3 Class 4A. They've gone 1-3 since losing Achterberg. They're going to make the district tournament, and their mission between now and then should be simple: discover a winning formula without Achterberg on the court.
Another team to watch in Class 4A is Kennard-Dale. The Rams hold the No. 9 spot, and 10 teams total make the playoffs. They've caught lightning in a bottle under first-year coach Jake Roupe, and are winning games at the buzzer. Kennard-Dale's last three victories have come by a combined seven points: 39-37 over West York, 41-38 over Gettysburg and 47-45 over Dover. That's unheard of.
Keep your eye on the Rams' movements in the rankings — a No. 7 seed would get the Rams a home playoff game in the first round.
Littlestown, meanwhile, is ranked sixth, but the Bolts have a tough remaining schedule: Two games vs. Class 3A power York Catholic, and another against Delone Catholic. If they slipped in the rankings, it could allow Kennard-Dale to rise.
Early prediction: A lot depends on whether Eastern can adapt to its new situation. Expect the Rams to hold steady or even climb the rankings ever so slightly.
Northeastern No. 1, with solid local depth in tow
Three or four local programs can make some noise in the district tournament and possibly at states. As always, much depends who's playing well at the right time of year.
That said, the Bobcats are the clear-cut No. 1 team here. Sure, Manheim Central (No. 2 seed) has St. Joseph commit Taylor Funk, and Spring Grove (No. 5 seed) has Michigan-bound Eli Brooks running point guard. But Northeastern is a well-rounded team that's got the shooting ability to get the job done.
Kudos to Central York for knocking off the Bobcats on Friday, 68-64, on Northeastern's homecourt. It was Northeastern's first loss of the year, but the Bobcats can take solace that it's better for that defeat to come now than during single-elimination playoff basketball.
If Spring Grove lands on the other side of the bracket from Northeastern, Brooks is talented enough to carry the Rockets into a district final against the Bobcats. The Bobcats beat the Rockets in their first meeting, 75-59. They'll get another shot at each other Friday in a game that will be livestreamed at GameTimePA.com. And, there's the possibility of a meeting in the YAIAA tournament.
Keep an eye on New Oxford, currently a No. 12 seed and a dangerous one at that. The Colonials have size and shooting ability, which can strike fear in a higher-seeded opponent wary of an upset.
Dover is ranked No. 15, holding a 11-4 record yet hurt by its standing in an underwhelming YAIAA Division II. Sixteen teams make this playoff field.
Early prediction: Brooks carries Spring Grove, and New Oxford springs an upset. Oh yeah, and Northeastern wins it all. Congrats Bobcats.
Where will Dallastown land?
It's a long season with a ton of games, and Dallastown has fallen into a bit of a lull. Still, the Wildcats are a good team currently seeded No. 7, and they're healthy now after fighting through some injuries that factored into their funk. And they're battle tested in a loaded YAIAA Division I field.
Central York is currently ranked No. 10 in the 12-team bracket, landing between No. 9 Chambersburg, No. 10 Hempfield and No. 12 Wilson. The Panthers have won four straight, including a huge win over previously unbeaten Northeastern, 68-64, on Friday.
Early prediction: Each team gets in, but the question is can they make noise? Central York, evidenced by its Friday night upset victory, can be a difficult team to prepare for.