YORK — West York boys’ basketball coach Bill Ackerman knew a lot had to change about his team if it wanted to avoid the embarrassment that it suffered back on Dec. 23 against Northeastern.
Simply put, the Bulldogs did.
With the memories of the 77-35 rout just more than a month ago still fresh in their minds, the Bulldogs managed to do the one thing that every team up until Tuesday night failed to do in Northeastern’s first 17 games of the season — beat the Bobcats.
West York ended Northeastern’s undefeated season and prevented it from clinching a tie for the York-Adams Division II title with a 63-58 victory on Tuesday night, prompting the school’s students to storm the court.
“We were more intent on not letting what happened at their place seep into tonight,” Ackerman said. “We were embarrassed the first time we played them … and since then, it’s been in the back of our minds.”
There would be no rolling over by the Bulldogs (14-5 overall, 9-3 Division II). They countered every Bobcats run with big baskets of their own, keeping the raucous crowd in the game the entire time until they finally made their move.
“It was great,” Josh Bailey said of the crowd following the game. “It was one of the hypest games I’ve been in so far other than the Central game this year … And we actually pulled this one out.”
After trailing for all of the first half and into the third quarter, West York finally took the lead with 3:36 remaining in the third at 32-30. It carried the lead into the final frame thanks to a Kyle Einsig 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Bulldogs a 42-39 advantage. Then, a 12-5 run in the middle of the fourth quarter opened up West York’s largest lead of the game at 54-46, sending a clear indicator that if Northeastern (17-1 overall, 10-1 Division II) wanted to remain unbeaten, it wasn’t going to come easy.
But, like all great teams do, Northeastern responded. The Bobcats went on a mini 4-0 run in the matter of seconds to again make the game close and quiet the West York faithful. However, unlike the first meeting, the Bulldogs didn’t concede and responded by knocking down clutch free throws down the stretch, slowing the game down and forcing Northeastern to start fouling.
“I thought we took some punches and then gave some back,” Ackerman said. “I think we’re finally starting to learn how to handle adversity and now we’re starting to win some games as a result.”
West York knocked down 14 of its 20 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be a major deciding factor in the contest. In contrast, the Bobcats missed six of their first eight free throw attempts in the second half, causing their deficit to balloon to a margin that they couldn’t overcome.
Josh Bailey led the Bulldogs with 20 points, but it was his fourth-quarter performance that helped his team maintain its advantage. After scoring nine points in the opening quarter, he managed to make only two free throws in the next two frames, before going for nine points down the stretch. Matt Dellorfano added 13 points for West York, making all five field goals that he attempted.
Northeastern was led by Kobi Nwandu, who finished tied with Bailey with a game-high 20 points. It was his hot start that moved the Bobcats into the lead right from the start, making his first five field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers. He finished with four 3-pointers in the game, but only scored two points in the final quarter.
After going through much of the season unscathed, the test for Northeastern is to see how it responds to its first setback. The Bobcats are still in a good position to wrap up the Division II title with only three league games remaining in the regular season.
As for the Bulldogs, who still have a glimmer of hope to win the Division II crown, this was a chance to put the first match-up behind them and make a statement — one that was too good to squander.
“I was hoping, after what happened (the first game), that they would come in undefeated. I really was,” Ackerman said. “If you’re going to play a great team, let’s play them when they’re undefeated. Let’s have the opportunity to make that first blemish.”
OTHER BOYS’ BASKETBALL
York High 75, Red Lion 69 (2 OT): At York, Red Lion pushed the first-place Bearcats to the limit, but York High prevailed by outscoring the Lions, 14-8, in the second overtime. Jahaire Wilson had a huge game for the Bearcats with 31 points, including nine in the second OT. All of Wilson’s points in the second overtime came at the foul line. York High connected on 25-of-35 foul shots while Red Lion was 9-of-14. Three Lions’ players fouled out of the game. Red Lion exploded for 22 points in the third quarter to carry a nine-point advantage into the final quarter, but the Bearcats won the fourth quarter, 17-8, to force overtime. Montrel Morgan also finished in double figures for the winners with 14 points. Wyatt Tyson led the Lions with 18 points while Stone McCreary and Jason Rebuck teamed for 26 Red Lion points. York High improved its York-Adams Division I record to 9-1 and overall mark to 15-4. Red Lion is now 4-6 and 10-8, respectively.
Dover 60, York Suburban 51: At Suburban, Dover held the Trojans to just four points in the fourth quarter to earn the comeback victory. The Eagles entered the final quarter trailing by eight (47-39), but they racked up 21 points in last eight minutes with Ryan Beck accounting for 15 of the points. Beck finished with 17 points while Najah Fink added 15 and Jerry O’Neal had 13, for Dover. Suburban’s Chey Carter took game-high scoring honors with 19 points. Kevin Moats supplied 10 points for the Trojans.
York Tech 65, Biglerville 38: At Spry, Tech’s Kahleik Savery and Donte Grim outscored Biglerville by combining for 41 points. Savery connected for 21 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, and Grim racked up 20 points. The Spartans broke open a close game in the second half with a 36-14 scoring advantage. Ty Brown supplied 12 points for the winners. Biglerville’s Noah Ayers led all scorers by accounting for 29 of his team’s points.
Central 66, New Oxford 37: At New Oxford, Central, leading by eight points at halftime, outscored the Colonials, 21-11, in the third quarter to take a commanding lead. Nathan Markey and Charlie Gingrich split 24 points for the Panthers, and Sam Saxton added 11 points. New Oxford’s Devon Duvall led all scorers with 18 points. Central is now 8-2 in York-Adams Division I and 14-6 overall.
York Catholic 49, Delone Catholic 40: At York, Paul Martello delivered 14 points to help power the Fighting Irish past their parochial school rival for the second time this season. York Catholic scored 16 points in the first and fourth quarters. Jimmy O’Boyle led Delone Catholic with 13 points. York Catholic earned its ninth York-Adams Division III victory against just two setbacks.
Kennard-Dale 55, Susquehannock 37: At Glen Rock, four K-D players finished in double figures. Andrew McClean led the Rams with 18 points followed by Jake Deppen (12 points), Kyle Wooldridge (11 points) and Adam Freese (10 points). Quinlan Kauffman was Susquehannock’s high scorer with 17 points. Aaron Portner finished with 11 points for the Warriors.
Christian School of York 56, Hershey Christian 16: At York, Sean Graybill poured in 22 points, while Austen Smith added 17 for the Crusaders. Graybill and Smith each had three 3-pointers.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.