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YAIAA's tightest competition lies in Division II (column)

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It might be overlooked, but it should not be taken for granted.

The York-Adams Division II girls’ basketball race, from top to bottom, is the most competitive of all the YAIAA divisional basketball tussles.

Yes, more so than YAIAA Division I girls, where Central York is at the top and New Oxford hopes to challenge (the Panthers are coming off a 61-32 victory over the Colonials on Jan. 1). More so than YAIAA Division I boys, where Northeastern is the cream of the crop, and all other competitors are seemingly playing for second place. And more so than Division II boys, along with Division III boys and girls, where a handful teams are perched atop their respective divisional standings.

Yet on the Division II girls’ side of the ledger? There’s a number of contenders in play for the top spot, and a handful more that can cause problems on any given evening.

First, there’s the three teams perched in the catbird seat: Dover, Eastern York and Susquehannock. All appear formidable, with identical 5-1 records in divisional play and intriguing back stories on their resumes.

Dover has been the top team overall, with an 11-1 record entering a pivotal game Tuesday against Eastern York. The Eagles are headlined by the Fink sisters — Rayah and Rajah — and have gotten a spark from first-year head coach Kevin Glover. As long as that sister combo stays healthy, the Eagles will be a handful down the stretch.

Eastern York has also surprised under a first-year coach of its own — that being Brad Weaver, who was hired this offseason to replace Cheryl Land after Land resigned because of stipulations in the Pennsylvania Public School Employees'  Retirement System code.

Weaver has brought a wrinkle of his own to the Eastern program, however, leading the Golden Knights to a 9-3 overall record and getting standout play from junior Hannah Myers. Myers is a player from a basketball family, and Eastern York is a physical bunch that has taken it to the opposition this year.

The Eagles and Golden Knights square off Wednesday, in what looks to be a pivotal game in the standings. Tip off is 7:30 p.m. at Dover.

With that being said, Susquehannock shouldn’t be glossed over. The Warriors are a well-coached team that defends and rebounds effectively. They won the division last year and handed Dover its only loss this season, a 48-43 final on the Warriors’ home floor. The two teams meet again, at Dover this time, on Jan. 24.

Yet the list goes on.

West York holds a 3-3 divisional mark and is 8-4 overall. The Bulldogs have an experienced and respected head coach in Darrell Wildasin, and are a good defensive group. Look no further than their 52-24 win over Greencastle-Antrim on Dec. 28, when the Bulldogs held Holy Cross commit Jenay Faulkner to five points on the evening. The takeaway from that showing is clear: the Bulldogs had a plan and executed it. That characteristic won’t dissipate as the season hits its homestretch.

Gettysburg also sports a 3-3 mark in division, and came out of nowhere to shock Eastern York, 64-57, last week. While it was a great win for the Warriors, it also highlights the ball can bounce many ways in a game between divisional rivals: Eastern York went 16-of-35 from the foul line that evening, and the Warriors capitalized at home.

York Suburban has been solid the past two years, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. The Trojans issue is on offense, however, where they’ve scored under 40 points seven times this season.

With that as a backdrop, Jess Barley gets her team to play hard every night, and none of the above-mentioned clubs want to get in a dog fight with them. In that setting, York Suburban remains dangerous.

Kennard-Dale is a young team and Northeastern is trying to capture some of the magic its boys’ program brings to the court: While the Bobcat boys hold an 11-0 overall record, the girls’ program is a polar opposite at 1-12.

Still, this division goes deep. We knew it’d be wide open at the beginning of the year. It hasn’t disappointed in that respect. If anything, it’s exceeded expectations.