BOYS’ HOOPS PREVIEW: York High will rely on strong guard play

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Boys' Basketball
By DICK VanOLINDA
The York Dispatch

York High’s Collin Smith, left, and Dejian Williams, right, have been friends since they were 8 years old. They combined to average more than 26 points per game on last seasons District 3-AAAA title team and will be expected to be team leaders this season. (Bill Kalina Photo)

Tavon Parker … 7.1 points per game last season. (Bill Kalina Photo)

The two city kids were 8 years old when they joined the same youth basketball team.

Dejian Williams, from York’s west end, and Collin Smith, from the east end, struck up an almost immediate friendship. They didn’t always attend the same school, but constantly stayed in touch.

When it came time for high school, Williams and Smith enrolled at New Hope Academy Charter School and became teammates again on the basketball team. After two years at New Hope, both transferred to York High.

Williams said it was a decision that he and his mother made as to which school was best for him. Smith said there were a whole bunch of reasons why he transferred, one of which was that “the work was really easy over there.”

Troy Sowers …led York to 27 wins a year ago. (Bill Kalina Photo)

As juniors, Williams and Smith helped the Bearcats win the District 3 Class AAAA title last year. Now, they’re preparing for their final high school season. York High opens play on Friday night by taking on South Philadelphia in the Bearcats’ tip-off tournament.”It’s great to finish up together,” Williams said. “I have his back, and he has my back.”

Smith is also looking forward to closing his career as part of the same backcourt with Williams.

“We have the same interests and like to be around each other,” he said. “Like all seniors, we want to go out with a bang this year.”

The presence of Williams, Smith and Tavon Parker, the team’s other returning starter, will certainly allow the Bearcats to make some noise this season.

“With the three guards I have coming back (Williams, Smith and Parker), I couldn’t ask for any more experience,” York High coach Troy Sowers said. “There’s one thing that’s hard to match up against, and that’s speed. All of our guards will allow us to continue playing our traditional full-court game.”

Williams will direct the offense at point guard.

“Dejian was never a point guard in his life until last year, and he became of the top guards in District 3,” Sowers said.”

Williams averaged 15.3 points a game last year, Smith, 11, and Parker, 7.1 Williams led the team in 3-point baskets with 54.

“Playing the point, it’s a big responsibility,” Williams said. “I have to take control of the game, and when it comes down to the final seconds, I have to make sure that I make the right pass and the right decision.”

Sowers won’t discourage Williams from shooting, but he’s also confident that the 6-foot, 2-inch senior will provide his teammates with plenty of touches.

“He’s talking about assists and wins and being more of a floor general,” Sowers said.

The guards are tested, but the rest of the Bearcats have little or no varsity experience. The team also doesn’t have a lot of height.

Five players from last year’s team graduated, including starters Kelvin Parker and Zach Newby. Parker, the star on the 2010-11 club, averaged 19.8 points a game. He’s playing NCAA Division I college basketball at Mount St. Mary’s (Md.). Newby, a 6-5 forward, averaged 11.5 points a game. Sowers, though, is confident there won’t be a major offensive dropoff this season.

“I think we’re going to be really balanced offensively,” he said. “I really feel we have five guys who can score 20 points on any given night.”

Sowers is high on Na’ Shon DeShields, a 6-2 senior who sustained a season-ending injury in the first game of last season. DeShields is the half brother of former Bearcats’ football and basketball star Malik Generett. DeShields wears Generett’s old number, 12.

Spencer Ortmyer averaged 13.7 points per game last season and will be a pivotal player for the Central York boys basketball team again this winter. (John A. Pavoncello Photo)

York High is bidding for its fourth straight Division I crown, but Sowers is aware that there are a number of serious challengers this year.

“Dallastown is so big (size wise), Central has three starters back, South Western has three starters back, and over in Division II, you have (Elijah) Cooper and the Nwandu brothers (Chris and Khalid) at Northeastern,” he said. “We’re going to be humble and hungry. We were 27-3 last season, but this is a brand-new season. We haven’t won anything yet.”

DIVISION I

Dallastown returns two starters, Judd Gemmill, a 5-9 senior guard, and Emmanuelle Mossengo, a 6-5 senior forward. Gemmill averaged 7.4 points and nine assists a game last season, and Mossengo supplied 7.5 points and 12 rebounds. Gemmill also knocked in 32 3-point shots last year, and Mossengo was a force inside at both ends of the floor.

“With a core group of returning players from last year’s undefeated JV team, our common goal is to build on last year’s success (21 victories),” Wildcats’ head coach Troy Smeltzer said.

Spencer Ortmyer, Tremaine Bowman and Jalil Ford provide Central York’s new head coach, Kevin Schieler, with three varsity veterans.

Ortmyer (13.7 points and seven rebounds), Ford (9.1 points) and Bowman (12.9 points) were key members of a Panthers’ team that won 16 games last season.

“Spencer has a nice 15-footer, and we’re going to rely on him to be our inside presence,” Schieler said. “Jalil has great court vision, and he’ll run the show at point guard, and Tremaine can shoot the ball and take it to the rim very well.”

South Western’s Parker Bean pumped in 19.8 points a game as a sophomore. Bean, and another junior, Mike Duffy (11.1 points), return for the Mustangs, along with Rafe Sanders (8.3 points).

“The returning experience we have this season has shown already in our first two weeks of practice,” Mustangs coach Nate Brodbeck said. “We are further along this preseason.”

Red Lion is counting on three returning starters, Tanner Klinefelter (13.0 points), Erik Althoff (7.6 points) and Austin Kerchner (6.3 points) to improve on last year’s 6-15 mark. Klinefelter, though, is out until at least Christmas with a broken collarbone.

Spring Grove will attempt to better last year’s 3-19 finish without the team’s two top scorers. Bryce Harbold and Mike Adams graduated after teaming for 32.5 points a game.

DIVISION II

It appears that one good year deserves another at Northeastern.

Four of this year’s Bobcats started on last year’s team that shared the division title with Dover and earned two victories in the District 3-AAA playoffs.

Elijah Cooper, a 6-3 senior, heads up the returning players. Cooper, who recently made a verbal commitment to Division II Lock Haven University, averaged 13.3 a game for the 2010-11 team. He’s quick and is an outstanding ball handler.

Chris Nwandu (12.2 points), Khalid Nwandu (9.7 points) and Eric Steadman (4.0 points) are the other veterans.

“All four players have improved,” said Bobcats’ coach Jon Eyster. “Elijah and Khalid are more consistent jump shooters, Chris has improved his ability to handle the basketball in transition, and Eric is bigger and stronger.”

Eyster earned 221 victories before stepping down following the 2008-09 season. Northeastern’s winningest coach returned to the head coaching ranks this year.

Three veteran guards, Jerell Figueroa, Connor Snyder and Brandon Smith, are back at Dover, which compiled a 15-9 record last year while sharing the division crown with Northeastern. Figueroa and Snyder combined for 22.4 points a game and 81 3-point baskets. Smith provided eight points a contest.

“This team has put in a lot of time, effort and dedication over the offseason that will hopefully pay off during this winter season,” said Eagles’ coach Brian Schmoyer.

West York’s roster features very few varsity-tested players.

“Luke Cable (a 5-11 senior) is our only returning starter, and we return only two (other) letterwinners, Kaden Hepler (Sr., 6-2) and Ryan Lucas (Sr., 6-0),” Bulldogs coach Bill Ackerman said. “Our success hinges upon how quickly some of our other guys ‘grow up’ in the varsity role.”

Cable averaged 12.3 points a game last year and drilled 45 3-pointers.

Ackerman enters the season with an impressive won-loss record of 273-88. He’s tied with Darwin Bupp for the most victories by a West York coach.

Kennard-Dale is in the same boat as West York when it comes to veteran players. Logan Moore (Jr., 5-9) is the Rams’ sole returning starter. Moore averaged four points a game last year.

“We are very inexperienced,” K-D coach Greg Freese said. “The kids are working hard in practice, though, and we are looking forward to the challenge of our difficult schedule.”

Things could be looking up at New Oxford. The Colonials, 1-21 last year, have three returning starters plus another player who averaged more than 18 points a game in the five games he played. Justin Hoffman (8.1 points), Nate Barnes (6.9 points) and Marc O’Brien (3.3 points) started in 2010-11. Meanwhile, Andre Marshall scored 92 points in five games (18.4 average).

“We had our struggles last year, but the guys we return should have learned a lot from that,” New Oxford coach Jim Zinn said.

DIVISION III

Jon Reichard takes over as head coach at Eastern, his alma mater, with just one returning starter, his son, Dalton.

A junior, Dalton Reichard averaged four points a game last season. He displayed the coolness of a senior in the York-Adams Tournament title game against York High by scoring eight points, five in the fourth quarter.

“It’s going to be a battle,” said Coach Reichard, who was pleased with the way his team competed in a scrimmage vs. Dallastown. “We’re trying to get a little consistency. We have very little varsity experience, but I have a good group of kids, and they do play hard.”

York Suburban coach Tom Triggs expects to have a nine or 10-man rotation this season.

“I’m pleasantly surprised with our depth and athleticism,” Triggs said.

Ted Hinnenhamp is back for the Trojans after averaging 13.0 points a game last season.

“I think Ted has improved the most at his ball handling and decision-making,” Triggs said. “It’s nice to have a 6-6 point guard who can also post.”

Lucas DuMars (5.0 points) and Ryan Donahue (1.7 points) are other returning starters.

Alex Fancher, a senior guard, is the sole returning starter at Susquehannock. Fancher averaged 11.3 points a contest last year for the Warriors.

“The only other player we return who played any meaningful minutes is Phil Norris (4.2 points a game),” said Susquehannock coach John Zerfing. “We do have a good group of players moving up from the JV team. I believe we will be better offensively than we were last year. Our weakness is our lack of experience.”

Jacob Thompson returns at Littlestown after averaging eight points a game last year. Bermudian Springs will again have the services of Zach Stroup and Aaron Huntington, who teamed for 21.2 points a game last season.

DIVISION IV

Hanover put together an unforgettable 2010-11 season, winning 21 games and its first-ever District 3 championship (Class AA). However, 11 of the 12 players on last season’s roster were seniors. Connor Staub was the sole underclassmen.

Brett Smith is a three-year starter at guard for Delone Catholic, and he’s only a junior. Smith scored 273 points in 27 games last year (10.1 average). The Squires’ two leading scorers in 2011-12, Mark Staub and Cody Kump (28.4 combined points) graduated.

Very little went right for York Catholic during an uncharacteristic 9-15 season in 2010-11, but the Fighting Irish are poised for a major turnaround this season.

Coach Joe Keesey is counting on four starters on what he feels is “the best team by far” that he’s had in four years at the helm.

James Dougherty (8.5 points), Kyle Reichart-Warfel (8.2 points), Mark Burnside (7.9 points) and Steve Heusser (4.9 points) are the experienced players.

In addition, Michael Sperring, a 6-4 senior, is ready to go after missing all of last season (with the exception of one appearance) following brain surgery.

“It means everything having him (Sperring) back,” Keesey said. “He’s capable of scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds a game.”

Shyheim Carter, who averaged 7.1 points a game last season, is back for another season at York Tech. However, the Spartans’ two leading scorers, Saran Leng and Akeem Hopkins, graduated.

Biglerville, with it five leading scorers back, has a chance for serious improvement over last year’s 3-19 record. Seniors David Crowder and Casey Ayers led the Canners in 2010-11 by teaming for 24.5 points a game.

Fairfield struggled offensively a year ago, managing just 29 points a game. Offense may still be an issue this year with the graduation of the team’s three top scorers.

Reach Dick VanOlinda at dvanolinda@yorkdispatch.com or 505-5407.

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