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Just a season ago, Ohsajid Beard didn't make it through the second round of cuts during preseason tryouts as a junior at Central York. Now he's pulling down double-digit rebounds with regularity for YAIAA frontrunner William Penn.

Beard's improvement over a year has provided the Bearcats boys' basketball team with a stabilizing force inside. Seemingly never in need of more guards, it's been the post that has keyed the Bearcats (18-2, 13-0) on their recent postseason runs -- one they'll need the 6-foot-4 Beard for if they hope to enjoy one this season.

In 2009, it was the work of Malik Generett and Malachi Leonard on the front line that helped William Penn reach the PIAA finals. In 2011, Zach Newby's ascension lifted the Bearcats to a district title.

Coach Troy Sowers has relied on a slew of guards to provide suffocating defense, which typically leaves height as his team's biggest question. That didn't change entering this season, even with 6-8 Davante Jackson and Beard, who had not played organized high school basketball.

"He's really come a long way since the beginning of the year. He's probably our most-improved player," Sowers said.

To understand how Beard could make such an improvement, one would have to start with priorities. Beard never tried out as a freshman or sophomore while attending William Penn. His mother, Kameelah Jamison, insisted his grades were in order before considering basketball tryouts.


Once he was able to play, Beard found himself behind those he competed against for a roster spot. He didn't have two years of development on the freshman or JV levels. Once he transferred back to William Penn, that inexperience increased to three years. But his size and work ethic intrigued Sowers.

"It was kind of depressing," Beard said being cut as a junior, "but I had to keep working and pushing myself."

He did so by playing in a summer league with sophomore teammates Jahaire Wilson and Stephen Dickson at Penn Park. Beard added, "I took my game more seriously."

The combination helped the senior's confidence by last fall's tryouts. Even though he was trying to make a team that finished much better than one he was cut from, Beard had a few doubts. Once he made the Bearcats, adjusting to the crowds and learning plays became the next adjustments. Beard said the plays came quicker on the defensive end, where he might be needed most come tournament time.

Just Wednesday night, he exhibited that improvement by grabbing 12 rebounds in William Penn's Division I-clinching win at South Western. A Bearcats victory was nearly in doubt until the final two minutes, when Beard and Wilson tightened up their interior defense. Five of Beard's rebounds came in that fourth quarter.

"He's such a nice kid and I try to turn him into an animal on the court," Sowers said. "That's how you've got to play, especially if you're a post guy. You've got to play strong."

* * *

Tiebreaker scenario: While William Penn has left the YAIAA tournament picture clear on the boys' side of Divisions I and II, it's quite murky for the girls.

West York is at Red Lion on Tuesday, and a Lions win could set a three-way tie atop Division I between those two and Dallastown. The four tournament spots for Divisions I and II appear to be set with them and undefeated Dover at the top. However, settling the seeding could get into tiebreakers.

If that happens, a potential three-way tie for West York, Dallastown and Red Lion could fall to the coin flip. The three schools share an opposite-division loss to Dover and have not lost within their division to anyone but themselves. Of course, the Bulldogs can eliminate the need for tiebreakers with a win Tuesday.

If they do, it would continue a remarkable run for a team that moved up from Division II and is playing without injured leading scorer Sarah Shearer.

200 in the Bank(os): York Catholic's 60-23 girls' basketball home win against Fairfield on Wednesday marked Kevin Bankos' 200th career victory.

Bankos reached the milestone in just his seventh season guiding the Irish, something made possible by their PIAA tournament runs. Bankos' teams have reached the state title game in five of his first six years.

@mgoul; 771-2045

YAIAA tiebreakers

The following tiebreaker scenarios are used to break ties for seeding purposes in the upcoming YAIAA basketball tournaments:
   --- First, ties are resolved by the best record in head-to-head competition within division play. This is the first tiebreaker because league records include cross-divisional play for Divisions I vs. II and Divisions III vs. IV.
   --- If a tie still exists, win-loss records against teams from first to last place within the division will be compared.
   --- If a third tiebreaker is needed, win-loss records against teams from first to last place in the opposite assigned division are used.
   --- If a tie still exists, a coin flip will decide seeding. It's important to note this is for seeding only and not to determine if a team qualifies for the YAIAA tournament.