Allibone: Best memories from YAIAA sports year
It was just about eight months ago to this day that I sat in the press box at J.T. Flaherty Field, furiously typing out my first assignment for GameTimePA.com.
Bermudian Springs had just earned a dramatic 20-17 road victory over Delone Catholic in double-overtime, giving me an exciting start to my professional sports writing career. At the time, I knew very little about the YAIAA, the history and color schemes of its teams or what a Biglerville Canner was.
But I learned a lot about those things and many others as the months progressed and I covered more games and got to know the athletes and coaches taking part in them.
My first year covering YAIAA sports went by quick, but it was always fun and often interesting. Here are a five of my favorite memories from the past year:
Spring Grove wins YAIAA title in basketball
Trying to pick my favorite Spring Grove basketball game from this season is like trying to pick my favorite band. My opinion on the topic changes quite frequently.
And just like I often can't decide if I enjoy the Foo Fighters more than Rush or U2, I find myself constantly thinking which Rockets game was the most competitive or entertaining. The thrilling win over Northeastern in the YAIAA semifinals? Either win over William Penn? And of course you can't forget about the dramatic overtime loss to Central York in the District 3 semis.
But while one of those contests might have been the best game in the YAIAA this year, the most memorable one for me was the Rockets' 42-36 win over Central York in the league title game at York College on Feb. 13.
It wasn't the smoothest game either team played this season. Both squads struggled to hit shots for most of the night as the Panthers led 18-12 at halftime and 27-21 after the third quarter.
But the incredible play of Eli Brooks (26 points, 17 in the fourth quarter) and the resilience of the Rockets made this contest very memorable. When I think back on the 2015-16 basketball season, the first thing I'll remember is the crowd of Spring Grove fans chanting Brooks' name as the team celebrated.
Gettysburg nearly shocks Delaware Valley
When you're a high school sports writer, the playoffs mean late nights and lots of extra driving. That was the case on March 5, when I trekked from York to Philadelphia for a boys' basketball showdown between underdog Gettysburg and District 12 champion Delaware Valley Charter in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
While it took me more than three hours to drive down (thanks, Philly traffic) and I didn't get home until after 1 a.m., Gettysburg's outstanding effort made the trip more than worth it. Although the Warriors eventually fell, 70-62, they challenged Delaware Valley (also the Warriors) all game and trailed by just two at the end of the third.
With Gettysburg having lost to Philadelphia powerhouse Neumann-Goretti by 48 points in the first round of states the previous year, it was hard to think it would be able to beat Delaware Valley. Although they came up short, the Warriors traded blows with the District 12 champs and never allowed the contest to become a blowout.
The game was also exciting enough to keep me energized for my ride home. Even getting up early the next morning for YAIAA spring sports media day didn't blemish how memorable it was.
Friday nights on the gridiron
As my fellow GameTimePA.com scribe Zach Miller said to me one of my first days in the office, "You haven't lived until you've covered high school football."
While I only got to cover five football games this fall, I would have to agree. Friday nights in the fall are some of the most fun you'll have covering sports in the YAIAA.
Although I was unfortunately limited in the number of games I was able to see, I did attend some good ones. The aforementioned Bermudian Springs win over Delone was thrilling, as was South Western's 23-21 district playoff loss to Hempfield. It was also great to experience Hanover vs. Delone Catholic, one of the area's great rivalries.
Bottom line, few atmospheres in high school sports can match that of a good Friday night football game. I can't wait for the 2016 season to start.
District 3 track and field championships
Sometimes the busiest days are the most enjoyable. That was definitely true for me on May 20 and May 21 during the District 3 track and field championships.
Having previously not covered any track events during the season, I admittedly spent most of the first day running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Many events happen at the same time, and it's not easy to keep track (no pun intended) of everything.
But the non-stop action means plenty of excitement and very few dull moments. There's also lots of variety, from the field events to the sprints and distance runs.
And with the athletes like Delone Catholic's Will Greene and Biglerville's Ben Hurda providing big performances, the two-day event was easily the most memorable of the spring. I'll never forget Greene euphorically pumping his fists and shaking his head in disbelief after qualifying for states in the 1,600-meter run.
Central beats Susquehannock for YAIAA softball crown
I covered a ton of softball this spring and saw a lot of really good teams. The top two were probably Central York and Susquehannock, and the best game I saw was the Panthers' 3-1 win over the Warriors in the league title game.
As expected, the game was low-scoring with Central's Rachel Butler and Susquehannock's Maddy Staub keeping both offenses at bay. But Central was able to get timely hits in key moments while Susquehannock was repeatedly thwarted by the Panthers defense.
A line-drive off the bat of Susquehannock's Mallory Lebo was just snagged by Central shortstop Erin Cabry in the third while a bases-loaded double play by the Panthers ended a Warriors rally in the fourth. Ultimately, the three runs were all Central needed.
Although both teams would lose in the opening round of districts, the Panthers and Warriors provided their fans with plenty of great moments this spring.