Archive for the ‘Boys’ Basketball’ Category

Four Y-A League schools will compete at the 6-A level the next two seasons in both football and boys’ basketball

It took years for the PIAA to finally decide to expand from four classes to six in football and several other sports.

Now, as each month passes and deadlines come and go, state high schools are getting closer and closer to a brave new world in Pennsylvania prep sports.

The PIAA recently released its classification reports for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 high school sports seasons.


DICK VanO’LINDA, 505-5403/@ydsports

York Catholic boys basketball preps for season

(Photo: John A. Pavoncello –

York Catholic’s new boys’ basketball coach wants his players to understand one thing right from the get go.

It’s not his team.

“I want to get them to understand that on great teams, the players are the leaders,” Blaine Claiborne said. “Don’t wait for Coach Claiborne to provide the leadership. I want to teach them, but then let them play.”



York Catholic’s Maura Palandro, right, is seen here in action from earlier this season vs. Susquehannock. York Catholic’s Amanda Tufano is at

York Catholic’s Maura Palandro, right, is seen here in action from earlier this season vs. Susquehannock. York Catholic’s Amanda Tufano is at left and Susquehannock’s Gena Speights is at center. Palandro will play NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse at Kennesaw State in Georgia. (DAWN J. SAGERT —

Kennesaw State University and Florida Institute of Technology might be a long way from York County.

But they felt like home to York Catholic’s Maura Palandro and Tommy Bowser. On Wednesday, the two lacrosse standouts for the Fighting Irish signed National Letters of Intent. Palandro will attend Kennesaw State in Georgia to play for the NCAA Division I program, while Bowser will play for the Division II program at Florida Tech.



Many high school basketball players dream that their play on the court will someday help them earn a college scholarship.

For the past 14 years, however, there has been an another opportunity for every player throughout the York-Adams League to make that dream a reality, without worrying about points, rebounds and assists.



Central York quarterback Nik Strine hands the ball off to running back Shyheim Goff during the Panthers’ game at South Western on Monday. The

Central York quarterback Nik Strine hands the ball off to running back Shyheim Goff during the Panthers’ game at South Western on Monday. The landscape of football in Pennsylvania changed drastically on Wednesday when the PIAA voted to expand the football playoffs from four classes to six classes. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —

MECHANICSBURG – It wasn’t the first time in the PIAA’s history that the idea of expanding to six classes for high school football was kicked around.

But, after Wednesday’s vote, it was the first time it was approved.



The Northeastern boys’ volleyball team poses with the PIAA Class AA state championship trophy in 2013. The PIAA is considering expanding the number

The Northeastern boys’ volleyball team poses with the PIAA Class AA state championship trophy in 2013. The PIAA is considering expanding the number of classes in the football playoffs, which could lead to expanded classes in other sports, too, such as volleyball. (RYAN VANDERSLOOT — For The York Dispatch)

A high school state sports championship should mean something truly special.

It should be the culmination of years of blood, sweat and tears.

It should be a symbol of not just sustained excellence, but unrivaled greatness.



York Tech winners of the 2015 Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Awards are Donte Grim, left, and Keevon Rice. Each received a 7,500 scholarship from the

York Tech winners of the 2015 Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Awards are Donte Grim, left, and Keevon Rice. Each received a 7,500 scholarship from the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Sportsmanship Award committee. (SUBMITTED)

The annual sports awards night at York Tech on June 3 was extra special this year for Donte Grim and Keevon Rice.

The seniors benefited from the boys’ basketball team having won its first Gretchen Wolf Swartz Sportsmanship Award at the end of the season. Grim and Rice recently won the two individual $7,500 scholarships awarded to senior members of the program.

The Spartans’ program was selected after the basketball season in a vote of the York Chapter of the PIAA Basketball Officials. The Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Fund board of directors then selected the individual scholarship winners in May.

Although Rice went to the ceremony knowing he had won something, the scholarship and what it was for came as a complete surprise.

“When we found out we got invited to the awards, and that everyone had won something, I thought mine would be for my attendance,” said Rice, who only missed one day of school from kindergarten through his high school graduation.

Grim had a slight idea that the scholarship was a possibility, but was still surprised to hear his name called.

“It was a nice surprise,” said Grim of winning the award. “I had a little bit of an idea it might come. It really means a lot.”

Gretchen Wolf Swartz was a York County basketball official from 1981 through 1995. Following her untimely death from leukemia in 1997, her fellow officials created the memorial team awards and a scholarship fund to promote and honor the sportsmanship she championed.

Each year, at season’s end, the York-Adams basketball officials vote to recognize one boys’ and girls’ program. The winning program displays the highest conduct all season long on many levels, including its players, fans, faculty, students, managers, coaches and cheerleaders, ranging from junior high through varsity.

This was the first year the Tech boys were chosen. The Biglerville girls’ program was also honored this season. Rebecca Isaac and Maddie Wenk were also awarded $7,5000 scholarships. The Canner girls were previously honored in 2007 and 2011. The Biglerville boys received the award in 2009.

Grim was not only delighted with winning the scholarship, but proud he could help the program win the award as well.

“It was a real honor because me and Keevon were the first to ever get it from Tech,” Grim said.

Rice echoed his teammates’ sentiments.

“That was a big thing, knowing that it was our first time ever winning,” Rice said. “And it was a big help to my college funds.”

Grim said he is leaning toward attending Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology to study either mechanical engineering or machining. He is also considering playing basketball for the school.

Rice, who also played football for the Spartans, is temporarily putting aside his athletic career to focus on architectural drafting at Pittsburgh Technical Institute. He is open to the possibility of a transfer to pursue college basketball in a few years.

Biglerville High School winners of the 2015 Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Awards are, front, from left, Rebecca Isaac and Madeline Wenk. In the back,

Biglerville High School winners of the 2015 Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Awards are, front, from left, Rebecca Isaac and Madeline Wenk. In the back, from left, are Gretchen Wolf Swartz Sportsmanship Award board members Pat Gebhart and Coni Wolf, and Biglerville athletic director Anthony Graham. (SUBMITTED)

This year’s $30,000 in total scholarships reflects a significant increase over last year, when one member from each winning team won a $7,500 scholarship, and another from each team won a $2,500 scholarship.

The first scholarships – both in the amount of $1,000 – were awarded in 2001. More than $50,000 in scholarship dollars have since been awarded.

— Reach Elijah Armold at



York County, as a whole, is 911 square miles.

But, in the realm of high school athletics, it might as well be broken into 15 separate entities, with each of the 15 York County schools that compete in the York-Adams League like their own island. Rarely, when you step inside one of those 15 areas, will you find someone who supports a team other than the school in his or her own district.

The fan bases are passionate, filling gyms and stadiums to cheer on their beloved athletes, while rival supporters aren’t afraid to venture into enemy territory for a road contest. It’s one of the many things that make high school sports something that athletes remember forever.

But, make no mistake about it, even though their rooting interests may differ, there is still a common bond between every single person in the area — they are all York County residents. There hasn’t been a more perfect example of that bond than when the county fans put their individual rooting interests aside and rally around an athlete, or any other student, who’s suffering from severe health problems.

The area has seen a number of teenagers fall ill to the horrors of cancer just in the past couple of years. It’s an illness so destructive to the mental and physical health of a human, that it can leave anyone remotely associated with someone diagnosed with cancer feeling devastated.

Four get our support: So, when four local teens each received the horrifying news from their doctors that they had cancer, the entire county felt the impact and the need to help. The four kids affected — Maddie Hill, Brandon Hohenadel, Peter Falci and Marcus Josey — were not only outstanding students at four different high schools, but also athletes.

Hill, a senior at Dover High School, suffers from myelodysplastic syndrome. In short, it’s caused by dysfunctional blood cells and forced her to undergo a bone marrow transplant back in the fall of 2013. She encountered problems earlier this year and needed to undergo another transplant.

Hohenadel, now a graduate of Eastern York, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2013, which affects the blood and bone marrow. He played basketball through his freshman year with the Golden Knights before stopping. Still, it was basketball, which he continues to play for fun, that helped him get through his treatment and help him rebuild his strength.

Falci, a senior basketball player at Central York, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in early March, just days before the Panthers took part in the PIAA state tournament.

And Josey, a junior at Northeastern and the quarterback for the Bobcats’ football team, was the most recent athlete to find out he had cancer, diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia on April 10, the most common form of childhood cancer.

Those four graced York County with their excellence on the court and field when they were healthy, so it was only fitting that the county came together to support them in their time of greatest need.

Raising money: T-shirt drives were the biggest source of fund raising for each of the patients’ families. The Dover community sold “Fight Like Hill” shirts for Hill, while Eastern sold “Brandon’s Battle” shirts with a cancer ribbon on them in support of Hohenadel. Central started a drive by selling “Play for Pete” shirts for Falci that the basketball team wore for warm-ups before its state tournament game and Northeastern is selling “#MarcusStrong” T-shirts for Josey’s fight.

But, instead of settling for the bare minimum to help, the York community continued to help these kids in any way possible. On top of the T-shirt drives, Dover held a marrow donor registry drive on March 14, so more victims like Hill don’t have to wait as long to find a match. This June will be the second annual Brandon’s Battle golf outing to help raise money for Hohenadel’s continuing medical expenses and for other pediatric cancer patients. Just in the last year, there’s been more than $12,000 raised for him and his family. And to show how the entire county is rallying around these kids, even York Suburban took part in helping raise money and awareness for Hohenadel’s fight, by holding a white out during the Trojans’ boys’ volleyball match against the Golden Knights in 2013.

In Josey’s case, a GoFundMe account was set up online under the name “Keep #MarcusStrong” to raise money for his treatment. Just in the week since it was created, more than 100 donors contributed more than $6,000 to his fight. It’s hard to imagine that other communities, besides Northeastern, haven’t helped contribute to that total.

Looking out for them: Josey said it best last week after he underwent his first day of chemotherapy: “The support is amazing,” he said. “I honestly didn’t think I had that many people out there caring for me and looking out for me. The people at my school are amazing. They’re honestly helping me get through this a lot better than I think I would without all that support.”

The outreach and support for these kids extends much further than the walls of their school and district. When any member of York County falls ill, the entire community rallies around them.

Individually, you’ve rooted them on during their athletic endeavors, but this is a battle for which the entire county can, and has, rallied around them. Now, more than ever, these kids need your support in a fight much bigger than anything they could’ve ever endured on the fields or courts.

And that’s something we can all come together and support.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at




Blaine Claiborne knows better than most about the storied history of York Catholic basketball.

A 1993 grad of the school and a standout player for the Irish basketball program, Claiborne played for the team during some of its greatest heights. He was a guard on the 1990 PIAA Class AA state championship team and is a member of the York Catholic Athletic Hall of Fame.

Now, he’s in charge of resurrecting a program coming off an 11-13 season — a program that has hovered around the .500 mark for most of the last decade.

Claiborne has been named the next head basketball coach at York Catholic, replacing Ryan Luckman, who was not rehired after only one season. He’ll be the team’s third head coach in as many seasons.

“I’m honored that the principal and the committee had the faith in me to give me the opportunity,” he said. “It’s special because the thing we accomplished as a program before I was there, while I was there and even afterward for a few years, they were still good and competing for district and state championships. So, it’s just an honor to be given the responsibility to try to get back to those levels.”

On the surface, the hiring of Claiborne looks like the typical homecoming for a former student-athlete now hoping to give back to his alma mater. But it’s much more than that.

Prior experience: Claiborne is a guy with past coaching experience, spending five years as the girls’ varsity coach at York High and last season as the junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant at York Suburban. But it’s the job that he encountered at York High that made him seem like a good fit to become the next Irish head man.

When he first signed on to coach the Bearcats six years ago, the girls’ program was in a shambles.

“I think the York High girls, which was a totally broken program when I took over, (had) maybe eight, nine or 10 girls were in the total program,” Claiborne said. “We’re talking about varsity, JV, junior high and freshman team. We didn’t have teams, coaches, anything.”

Claiborne spent five seasons at York High, eventually building the program to the point where up to 40 girls were involved from the varsity level down to the junior high level. So, while the Irish program isn’t quite in the same boat the Bearcats were when Claiborne took over, it’s in a state where changes need to be made.

“York Catholic is not broken at all, but it needs repaired,” Claiborne said. “It’s not where it should be, but it’s not broken.”

So, now it’s up to Claiborne to repair it.

Expectations: He understands that the success he had as a player raises expectations of him as a coach, especially after showing glimpses of promise at rival schools. But nothing quite matches the intensity that comes with coaching your alma mater, and the hope that comes along with it of returning the program to its glory days, which include four state championships and 11 District 3 crowns.

“I was a little cautious of (coming home) because sometimes going home is not always the best thing,” Claiborne said. “… It wasn’t a large concern for me, but it was something that I did consider. Like, will that be a good move?”

If nothing else, York Catholic is hoping that Claiborne can give it some consistency. Three coaches in three years isn’t the best path for success of a program.

Finding a middle ground: After Joe Keesey was let go two years ago, he said it was because he wasn’t charismatic enough. Last year, the more fiery Luckman was dismissed. So, it’ll be up to Claiborne to find a middle ground as he tries to turn around the program.

“My main job is to have my guys organized and ready to play and we take care of that at practice,” he said. “… In a game, if it takes for me to get excited and I need to put a charge in my guys, then that’s what I’ll do. If they’re playing well, then I’ll sit down on the sidelines and watch the game as an active spectator.”

Claiborne’s name is part of York Catholic’s lore. Some of the best years the basketball program ever had came during his time as a player.

He knew there would be expectations and pressure surrounding him when he took the job. Now, it’s up to him to block all of that out and help repair the program.

“I needed to do it,” Claiborne said, “and not be worried about what might go wrong and just think about the possibilities of what will go right.”

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at


The great thing about sports is that they can often give you some relief from the harsh realities that every day life can bring.

Whether it’s engulfing yourself in an event on television for a couple hours or playing a pick-up game with friends in the park, athletics can help you escape many problems.

Such was the case for Brandon Hohenadel, when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2012 as a senior at Eastern York High School. In between chemotherapy sessions and his bone marrow transplant last spring, Brandon’s outlet was basketball, a sport he played up through his freshman year at Eastern.

While he was still too frail to play the sport, he watched it on television, following two of his favorite teams, Villanova and Syracuse. When he finally worked up the strength to begin exercising again, the basketball court served as his gym.

It was there that he got back to, not only living a much more typical life, but back to his normal strength. He regained his strength and stamina to the point where playing pick-up games with his friends hardly affected him anymore.

“At first, I’d get really winded pretty quick and I wasn’t able to do very much,” he said. “I didn’t really have any leg strength and I’d get fatigued really easily. But now I can do pretty much what I always could before — jump and run like I used to. So my conditioning is pretty good now. Back to normal.”

Brandon even had the opportunity to go up to Syracuse this past December and got to meet the men’s basketball team before one of its practices and then sit court side at the Dec. 22 game against Colgate.

But that was all information that he revealed when The York Dispatch first did a story on his condition last year.

Since then, his condition has only improved. The Eastern York grad has been in remission now for more than a year and just a year removed from his transplant, both of which are giant milestones in his path to recovery.

Brandon’s Battle: The one-year mark is monumental not just from a health standpoint, but also serves as the moment when Brandon could get in touch with his donor and finally put a name and a face to the person who saved his life.

“We have been able to contact the donor now and that’s something that’s very touching for us because without him, Brandon probably wouldn’t be here right now,” Brandon’s mom, Lisa Hohenadel said. “He literally saved Brandon’s life. So, that’s something that we’re really pleased that we were able to find out about him too.”

“It was one more part of the recovery process that Brandon could cross off his checklist. The next might be taking up another sport, besides basketball.

Brandon hasn’t played a whole lot of golf since his childhood, but now might be the time to rekindle those memories. Brandon’s family began the Brandon’s Battle Foundation as a way to raise money to pay for his treatments, but also to help other pediatric cancer patients.

When Brandon was holed up inside Hershey Medical Center, there wasn’t a whole lot for him to do in the time between chemo sessions. So, part of the foundation’s purpose was to raise money to buy activities to give to patients to help pass the time. Puzzles, drawings, paintings and other small, but precious, activities are bundled together in goody-bags that can be bought and donated to pediatric patients.

Between Brandon’s monthly doctor appointments and gathering items for the goody-bags, bills became expensive. That’s where golf comes into play.

This year, the Hohenadel family will hold the second annual “Brandon’s Battle” Golf Tournament at Cool Creek Golf Club, the main event for Brandon’s Battle Foundation in its fund-raising efforts to help foot the bill for Brandon’s numerous check-ups and to make sure that other patients can still receive their goody-bags. The outpouring of support and donations have led to Brandon’s Battle raising more than $12,000 since it began in January 2013.

The event is only a small token of appreciation from the Hohenadel family.

“You don’t hear about so many pediatric patients until you become the family to a pediatric patient,” Lisa said. “And there’s so many people in this area that have sick children, or have had sick children, that have lost the fight and it’s just amazing how many people reach out to you. …It’s just amazing how so many become your personal contact.”

As of right now, entries for this year’s golf outing are off to a slow start, but Lisa believes that as the June 27 date nears and families coordinate vacation plans, it will again get a nice turnout, like last year’s event. As for Brandon, he’s looking toward the next chapter in his life. With his health steadily improving every day, he’s turned his attention to enrolling in college and starting his pursuit of becoming a sports agent in the fall 2015 semester. He’s currently waiting to hear back about acceptance into the University of Miami and, of course, Syracuse.

For more information on how you can donate and support the Brandon’s Battle Foundation and this summer’s golf outing, visit

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at


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