By RYAN VANDERSLOOT
Northeastern’s Payton Hauck averaged nearly 15 points per game last season. She’s earned a scholarship to Boston University. (YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO)
Despite having a number of talented girls’ basketball players who have come through the Northeastern program over the years, the Bobcats have only one York-Adams League division title in their history (2009).
That could change this year if Coach Bill Novak and company can find a way to maximize the team’s potential.
That potential starts with senior Payton Hauck, a 5-foot, 9-inch Boston University recruit. Already one of the best players in the York-Adams League at driving to the hoop, Hauck (14.8 points per game last year) has tried to expand her game to be a more complete player.
“When I got there she was extremely athletic,” said Novak, a third-year head coach. “She handles the ball well and what we needed to work on with her is getting some jump shots out of her. She’s always been really adept at getting to the basket and getting to the hole really well. So we’ve had to broaden her range and broaden what she can do.”
Part of what makes coaching Hauck such a coach’s dream is her selflessness. Not one to demand the ball on every possession, Hauck has been more happy to share then she is to receive.
While Novak, who preaches a team-first mentality to his squad, no doubt enjoys that, he has been trying to balance that out a bit more the past two years.
“She has always been an exceptional team player,” he said. “She’s never really been one to hog the ball. In fact, she was more of a pass-first player when we got here and there were times when we needed to say, ‘hey, if you’re open, you need to go.’ And I think, over the past few years, we’ve seen a lot more of that.”
By no means is Hauck, who joins Delone’s Maddie Comly and Dallastown’s Amari Johnson as the three NCAA Division I recruits in the league, a one-way player. Her defense is also a main reason she was able to find a path to the highest level of college basketball.
Northeastern girls’ basketball coach Bill Novak leads his team in practice on Monday. The Bobcats, coming off a 13-11 season, are expected to be a force in York-Adams Division II this season. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO — email@example.com)
“On defense she anticipates extremely well because she’s so quick and athletic,” Novak said. “And now, because she’s a little bit stronger, she can guard a bigger girl when called upon. She can use her speed and athleticism to offset a height disadvantage.”
Hauck will be joined in Northeastern’s starting lineup by fellow seniors Lauren Pace and Ashley Meyer (8.5 ppg) as well as junior Jordyn Kloster (12.8 ppg). Meyer’s sister, Kendra, appears to have the leg up for the competition to be the fifth starter.
Novak sounds quite comfortable with his squad, although he was a bit cautious.
“With our group, it’s a nice group to have,” he said. “We’ve been together now for awhile and things seem to be coming together. But we haven’t played anybody yet.”
Dallastown’s Amari Johnson (31) has earned an NCAA Division I scholarship to Rhode Island. She averaged 12.2 points per game a season ago. (YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO)
Strong division: While there are high expectations in Manchester this season, winning the school’s second title won’t come easily. Gettysburg’s addition forced a change from the old four-division alignment to a new three-division format. The Bobcats were placed in Division II along with four other programs — West York (Division I), Eastern York (Division III), Dover and Susquehannock (Division II co-champs) — that either won or shared a division title a year ago.
The new division will feature those five squads along with Gettysburg, Kennard-Dale and York Suburban.
“The league and the division is as balanced as I think it’s ever been,” Novak said. “With West York and Eastern — and you can’t sleep on Susquehannock — I don’t think anyone is a shoe in for anything. We have never played Kennard-Dale since I’ve been here at Northeastern so I don’t have any background with them. And then at Dover, I know that their new coach (Marley Klunk) is going to try to bring a mix of York Catholic and Red Lion philosophy there, so that will be interesting.”
Novak is a big fan of the new eight-team division alignment, in which only games within your division count for your league record.
West York’s Kari Lankford, center, averaged 13.7 points per game a year ago for the Bulldogs, who won the York-Adams Division I title. West York is in Division II this season. (YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO)
“I like it,” he said. “Before with the cross-over games, it mattered a lot where you played those games. Playing at home versus on the road … there’s a difference. Now you all play each other and it doesn’t matter who you play out of the division, except for district ratings. So it should be much more even and equitable.”
West York, which returns a number of players from last year’s Division I title squad, including Shepherd University-bound Kari Lankford (13.7 ppg), figures to be in the hunt for the division title as well.
Interestingly enough, new Bulldog coach Darrell Wildasin and Novak have some history. They coached the boys’ team together at Susquehannock. That familiarity could fuel a bit more intrigue when those two programs square off, although Novak down played that aspect.
“As far as Darrell and West York, it’s been almost seven or eight years since we coached together,” Novak said. “Until we can see tape of them or see them in person, then (familiarity) may help a little bit. But it’s a different style with different players and it’s a different gender. I’ll say it probably won’t be like playing anybody else, but I don’t think it will give an advantage to either of us.”
Note: In the league playoffs this season, the top three teams in Division I and the top two in Division II and Division III will each earn entries into the eight-team bracket. The final berth will be go to the third-place team in either Division II or Division III, with the edge being decided by District 3 power ratings.
Dallastown: West York’s move down to Division II leaves the Division I fairly open.
Dallastown (16-8 overall, 10-5 Division I) finished second behind the Bulldogs a year ago for Coach Mary Manlove, who lost guard Alex Lehman (6.6 ppg) to graduation. The return of standout post players Amari Johnson (12.2 ppg), a Rhode Island recruit, and Katie McGowan (9.3 ppg), in addition to point guard Debria Hendricks (5.6 ppg) should make the Wildcats a tough out.
Red Lion: The Lions (17-10, 9-6) will have to overcome the graduation of leading scorer Morgan Kuehne (17.4 ppg) and Devan Horka (8.3 ppg) if they hope to get back atop the division standings.
The good news for Coach Don Dimoff is that he will have his main outside threat in junior Courtney Dimoff (12.4 ppg) back in the fold. Also returning will be the duo of Julia Kendrick (4.1 ppg) and Taylor Funke (4.1 ppg).
New Oxford: The Colonials (14-10, 8-7) surprised a number of teams a year ago under Coach Mike Sanders.
The Colonials, however, lost a couple of key players from an all-underclassman squad in forward Ashley Caster (8.3 ppg), who transferred to Spring Grove, and Emily Lawrence (4.8 ppg), who decided not to play this year. Despite losing those two, Sanders will return the trio of leading-scorer Jensen Sneeringer (8.4 ppg), Taryn Crone (6.8 ppg) and Kaelin Long (6.6 ppg).
Central York: The Panthers (10-12, 4-11) lost a trio of players in Alexis Balanda (7.8 ppg), MacKenzie Windsor (6.0 ppg) and Alexis Cash (6.5 ppg) to graduation.
But Coach Scott Wisner’s club figures to be improved in his second season of his second stint with the program. Leading scorer Kelsey Wisner (11.5 ppg) and fellow senior Kelsey Shifflett (5.4 ppg) are back and should be aided by a number of additions from successful JV and ninth-grade programs.
Spring Grove: The Rockets (11-11, 6-8 Division II) return to Division I this year.
Spring Grove will have to find a way to replace the league’s top scorer a year ago in guard Morgan Arden (23.2 ppg). The addition of Caster (8.3 ppg) to pair with Erika Gregory (6.9 ppg) should provide Coach Gerry Rohrbaugh a formidable presence inside the paint.
York High: The Bearcats (4-18, 3-10 Division III) are also returning to the division after playing in Division III.
The Bearcats were allowed to play down because of program strength, so the move back figures to be tough, even with standout Chyna Steele (21.9 ppg a year ago) returning.
South Western: The Mustangs (3-17, 1-14) return the trio of Kaleigh Thomas (10.0 ppg), Lauren Schmidt (7.9 ppg) and Jacey Shipley (5.6 ppg).
Thomas was injured in the first game of the year and missed the remainder of the season.
West York: The reigning Division I champs from West York (17-10, 11-4 Division I) were bumped back into Division II after two seasons.
Even with a new head coach in Darrell Wildasin at the helm, the Bulldogs figure to be in the thick of the mix. The trio of Kari Lankford (13.7 ppg), Emily Wood (9.9 ppg) and Sela Fuhrman (7.3 ppg) return for Wildasin, who has previously had success coaching on the boys’ side at Delone, Spring Grove and Susquehannock.
Dover: Co-Division II and reigning York-Adams League champion Dover (26-4, 12-2) will have a full program reboot a year after advancing to the PIAA quarterfinals for a second year in a row.
New Head Coach Marley Klunk will try to infuse her experiences from Red Lion and York Catholic into a young and inexperienced squad that will have to replace all five starters. Alayah Hall (17.9 ppg), Lindsey Fowler (7.7 ppg), Megan Lokhaiser (5.9 ppg), Maxine Herman (5.4 ppg) and Marissa McMahon (6.3 ppg) will all need to be replaced. McMahon opted to not play this season while the other four graduated.
Susquehannock: The Warriors (23-6, 12-2) didn’t quite lose its starting five like Dover, but Coach Dave Schreiner will be without his three leading scorers in Katie Wagner (14.1 ppg), Shannon Druck (12.9 ppg) and Makenzie Fancher (9.0 ppg).
The Warriors, who shared the Division II title with Dover a year ago, will have forward Ashley Stone (7.2 ppg) returning.
Eastern York: The Golden Knights (15-9, 12-1 Division III) claimed the Division III title a year ago under Head Coach Cheryl Land.
The Knights will have to find a way to make up for the graduation of leading scorers Morgan Thomas (18.7 ppg) and Lauren Beaver (10.0 ppg). Senior Leah Myers (9.7 ppg) returns, along with classmates Haley Nalls (5.2 ppg) and Ashley Dietz (4.5 ppg).
York Suburban: The Trojans (8-14, 2-12) will have to find a way to replace the output from graduated seniors Alexis Mailman (11.6 ppg), Katherine Weaver (8.3 ppg), Cierra Eckenrode (4.5 ppg) and Bethany Spencer (4.3 ppg).
Juniors Molly Day (5.4 ppg), Kelsey Plonk (3.9 ppg) and Olivia Gettle (3.2 ppg) will return for Coach Jess Barley.
Kennard-Dale: Like Eastern, Kennard-Dale (7-14, 6-7 Division III) will make the jump up to Division II.
Rams’ coach Josh Clark will have to find a way to replace leading scorer Kaitlyn Trott (11.0 ppg), but does return a solid nucleus, led by junior Emily Freese (6.6 ppg). Seniors Avery Gertz (5.6 ppg) and Abby Driggers (3.2 ppg), in addition to juniors Sara Pilkey (4.2 ppg) and Morgan Anderson (4.2 ppg), also are back for a team that should have some solid depth.
Gettysburg (14-9): The Warriors join the York-Adams League a season after graduating standout Cami Boehner (21.9 ppg).
Madalyn Weikert and Larissa Felton also graduated for Coach Casey Thurston, who will have Devetche Johnson back from a team that finished second in the Mid-Penn Colonial Division (9-3).
York Catholic: The Irish (24-5, 12-1 Division IV) again figure to be the favorite after moving up from what was Division IV.
The Irish and Coach Kevin Bankos lost five seniors, including UMBC recruit Zaenna Echevarria (6.6 ppg), from a squad that won its ninth District 3-AA title in a row. Bankos, however, returns his top two scoring threats in seniors Hannah Laslo (11.2 ppg) and Anne Lehr (8.1 ppg). Marrissa Ressler (7.4 ppg) and Japriya Carroll (6.3 ppg) are also back, as well as Laslo’s sister, Emily (2.7 ppg).
Delone Catholic: The Squirettes (21-6, 11-2 Division IV) will try to knock off their parochial rivals for both the division and District 3 titles.
Coach Gerry Eckenrode will have his top scoring threat back from a year ago in senior Maddie Comly (18.4 ppg), a Fairleigh Dickinson recruit. The loss of Mary Gingrow (13.0 ppg) should provide a chance for juniors Allyson Shipley (6.4 ppg) and Amanda Reck (2.5 ppg), as well as sophomore Jill Novak (5.5 ppg), to expand their roles.
Hanover: The Hawkettes (12-11, 6-7 Division IV) hope to make the division a three-team race this year.
Hanover lost a few reliable scoring options in Shelby Barnes (6.8 ppg), Renee Drawbaugh (5.8 ppg) and Emily Silver (5.0 ppg). Coach Denny Garmin and company should be OK, however, especially with junior Soukaina Tracy (20.9 ppg) back. Tracy suffered an ACL injury a year ago, which limited her to 16 games. Tracy’s sister, Zaynah (5.3 ppg), also returns.
Biglerville: The Canners (11-12, 6-7 Division IV) return leading scorer Rebecca Isaac (15.4 ppg) for Coach Rob Moore, but the losses of Katie Camara (14.8 ppg) and Maddie Wenk (4.3 ppg) could prove troublesome.
Bermudian Springs: The Eagles (10-12, 6-7 Division III) will also have their leading scorer back in senior Shannon Kuhn (13.2 ppg).
Juniors Gabby Emeigh (7.3 ppg) and Rachael Erdman (5.2 ppg) also return for Coach Kari Cover’s squad.
Littlestown: The Thunderbolts (5-17, 3-10 Division III) improved to five wins a season ago after a winless campaign in 2012-13.
Leading scorer Lauren Slater (8.5 ppg) and Meagan Smith (5.6 ppg) graduated, but junior Emily Lanahan (6.0 ppg) is back.
Fairfield: The Green Knights (1-20, 0-13 Division IV) will look to improve and have last year’s leading scorer, Abby Herring, (11.0 ppg) back in the fold.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.