With just one returning starter from last season in senior Dalton Reichard, Eastern York's 56-52 boys' basketball win Friday night against Susquehannock provided valuable experience.
The Golden Knights held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Warriors for a YAIAA Division III win at Eastern York High School.
"Our biggest thing right now is decision making with a lead," fourth-year Eastern York coach Jon Reichard said. "We haven't figured out how to play with a lead. It has been a problem all year long. We have had some very nice cushions we have let slip away.
"We had to work hard to earn this one. We're still pretty young. Each night brings a new situation and gives us something to learn from."
Eastern York (7-3, 3-1 Division III) entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead and extended that to 12 points when 6-foot-1 junior Grum Kebede knocked down a basket 43 seconds into it.
Susquehannock (7-4, 3-2 Division III) then clawed back to within five points after a short jumper by 6-foot senior Justin McLee with 3:44 left. The Golden Knights went scoreless for almost four minutes, but two free throws by Reichard broke the cold spell and put Eastern York ahead 47-40 with 3:18 remaining.
The Warriors twice closed within three points, the last time being on a 3-point goal with 32 seconds left, but more free throws from Reichard and senior Travis Solomon clinched the game.
"Our kids played hard, " Susquehannock coach John Zerfing said. "Our kids didn't execute well at times, but you can't fault the effort."
Free throws were a big part of Friday's outcome as Eastern York sank 19-of-28 attempts, including 10-of-14 shooting by Reichard, while Susquehannock managed 6-of-14 shooting from the foul line.
"That hurt us," Zerfing said. "When we got to the foul line, we just weren't able to knock them down. We had been a pretty good foul shooting team. Up until about three games ago, we were shooting around 75 percent as a team. We've been struggling a bit with that now. I think it becomes mental a bit after a while. We'll continue to work on it."
Susquehannock led 16-12 after the opening quarter, thanks in part to seven points off the bench from McLee. The Warriors shot 50 percent from the floor in the first eight minutes, gave up only one more rebound and committed one turnover.
The Warriors went from that to a sub-par second quarter that saw them shoot 2-of-11 from the floor while committing nine turnovers. Despite those brutal eight minutes, Susquehannock still trailed by only five points at 28-23 at halftime.
"We had a bad stretch and they took advantage of it," Zerfing said. "That is what good teams do on their home floor. They were able to build up an advantage and we were just a bit too far behind."
Eastern York doubled its lead in the third quarter behind six points from Solomon and five points from freshman Broguen Nicholas.
Reichard paced the Golden Knights with a team-high 16 points, while Nicholas added 13. Solomon and Cody Bollinger chipped in with nine points each for Eastern York, which has won six of its past seven games.
"We are still trying to get an inside game and develop some consistency there," Reichard said. "That will eventually help our guards out. It's a work in progress."
McLee posted a game-high 17 points for Susquehannock while Brooks finished with 12 points.
"Susquehannock was a scrappy team," Reichard said. "They played us hard and kept coming at us whether they were down five, down 12 or whatever.
"I would call it a football game in shorts. It was a physical game. There were a lot of tired and banged up players out on that court on both sides."
Nick Tanurra 2 0-0 4, Brian Kerr 0 0-0 0, Tyler Brooks 5 1-2 12, Dan Ferarro 4 0-0 8, Tim Frey 4 1-4 9, Justin McLee 6 4-8 17, Calloway Hatcher 1 0-0 2. Totals22 6-14 52.
EASTERN YORK (56)
Travis Knaub 0 1-2 1, Broguen Nicholas 4 4-4 13, Travis Solomon 4 1-2 9, Dalton Reichard 3 10-14 16, Christian Buser 0 0-0 0, Grum Kebede 3 0-2 6, Cody Bollinger 3 3-4 9, Conrad Rhein 1 0-0 2, Jake Kessler 0 0-0 0, Jake Wildasin 0 0-0 0. Totals18 19-28 56.
Susquehannock 16 9 10 19 -- 52
Eastern York 12 16 15 13 -- 56
3-point goals -- Susquehannock 2 ( Brooks, McClee); Eastern York 1 (Nicholas).
JV score -- Eastern York def. Susquehannock