Here are some preseason L-L League girls basketball notables, including a look at the schedules, plus some trends as the (truncated) season inches closer …
Cedar Crest, under first-year skipper Will Wenninger, is at 18 games, starting Dec. 19. The Falcons are one of a select few teams participating in a holiday tournament: Cedar Crest is in the Lower Dauphin Holiday Tournament over in Hummelstown, and the Falcons get Harrisburg in a tasty first-round matchup on Dec. 29. Cedar Crest also has intriguing nonleague dates vs. Palmyra, Wilson and Central Dauphin — all before starting league play on Jan. 8 vs. rival Manheim Township. … Hempfield, the reigning Section 1 champ, is at 20 games, starting Dec. 15, and the Black Knights have booked some mighty interesting early-season nonleague clashes: Dec. 15 vs. Solanco; Dec. 19 vs. Dallastown; Dec. 28 at Central Dauphin; Dec. 29 at Cumberland Valley — enjoy those back-to-back bus rides to the greater Harrisburg area — and Jan. 6 vs. West York. There’s also a Jan. 16 date at Wilson in there, plus the Keystone Cup shootout on Jan. 30 at Dallastown. … Manheim Township is at the recommended 17 games, starting Dec. 17, with nonleague dates vs. Exeter, Solanco, Palmyra and Central York on the slate. … McCaskey is at 14 games, with just one nonleague tilt — Jan. 9 at York — on the schedule, starting Jan. 8. The Red Tornado is booked for the second-fewest games on the calendar. And hey, that’s OK, because nobody knows what’s going to happen up around the bend — and you can always add games along the way. … Penn Manor is at the recommended 17 games, starting Jan. 5. The Comets have booked nonleague tussles vs. Manheim Central, Solanco, Columbia and Cocalico.
Conestoga Valley is at the recommended 17-game threshold, starting Dec. 23. The Buckskins have booked nonleague dates vs. Garden Spot, Solanco, York Tech and Donegal. … Elizabethtown is slated to play the fewest games in the L-L League this season; the Bears will play their league schedule only, that’s 13 games, starting Jan. 8. Zero nonleague tilts for E-town this season. Can they add games on the fly? Sure. But for now, the Bears have 13 contests on their calendar. And again, that’s OK. Teams and school districts are looking at the pandemic and protocol situations differently. … Ephrata is at the recommended 17 games, starting Dec. 21. The Mountaineers, who will be out to defend their Section 2 crown, have nonleague games vs. Garden Spot, Cocalico, Twin Valley and Lampeter-Strasburg on their plate. … Unlike E-town, Lebanon is taking a different route with 20 scheduled games, starting Dec. 15. The Cedars have nonleague clashes vs. Governor Mifflin, Garden Spot, Oley Valley, Northern Lebanon, Bermudian Springs, Carlisle and Solanco sprinkled in there. … Warwick is at 16 games, starting Dec. 23, and the Warriors are trying to finalize a 17th game to hit the recommended number. Warwick has nonleague dates vs. Solanco, Cocalico and Muhlenberg on the slate.
Cocalico is at the recommended 17-game line, starting Dec. 18. The Eagles have nonleague dates vs. Exeter, Ephrata, Muhlenberg and Penn Manor on the calendar. … Garden Spot is also at the 17-game recommendation, starting Dec. 17. The Spartans have scheduled nonleague games vs. Lebanon, Ephrata, Conestoga Valley, Pequea Valley and Berks Catholic, leading up to their league opener on Jan. 8. … Lampeter-Strasburg is set to play the first game among L-L League teams this season, when the Pioneers travel to Linden Hall next Saturday for a nonleague scrap against the back-to-back reigning D3-2A champs. L-S is at 17 games, with other nonleague dates vs. Conrad Weiser, Lancaster Mennonite, Twin Valley and Ephrata. … Manheim Central will not play a JV schedule this season — the Barons have nine players, total, on their preseason roster — and Central is at the recommended 17 games. The Barons have nonleague scraps vs. Penn Manor, Cocalico, Red Land, Fleetwood and York Suburban; Central was slated to play in York Suburban’s tip-off tourney, which was canceled, but the Barons and the Trojans added a nonleague game instead. … Solanco, which will be angling for its third section championship in a row, is at 18 games, starting Dec. 15 with a nonleague clash at reigning Section 1 champ Hempfield. That was supposed to be in Hempfield’s tip-off tournament, but the Black Knights had to scrap that. So those two will square off in a nonleague game instead. Solanco also has nonleague dates scheduled vs. Manheim Township, Warwick, Conestoga Valley, Lebanon and Penn Manor.
Remember, this is a 4-team section, so these teams were left scrambling for more nonleague dates. … For now, Donegal, under rookie coach Matthew Warner, is at 14 games, starting Jan. 8. The Indians are scrambling to make-up some games after their first scheduled matchups this season had to be postponed because of virus concerns. Donegal was slated to play West York, and then participate in York Suburban’s holiday tournament. But that was also bagged. So the Indians are trying to reschedule a few games. Stay tuned. They have three other nonleague games booked for now, against Susquehannock, Octorara and Conestoga Valley. … Elco is going for it; the Raiders have scheduled the usual max 22 games, starting Dec. 21, with quite the array of nonleague competition: Hershey, York Catholic, Tulpehocken, Pine Grove, Lower Dauphin, Hamburg, Pottsville, Fleetwood, Linden Hall, Wyomissing and Conrad Weiser will all take on Elco. Will the Raiders get all 22 games in? Can’t say for sure. But they’re certainly going for it. … Three-time reigning league champ Lancaster Catholic is sitting on 16 games, starting Dec. 15, and the Crusaders are hoping to add at least one more game to get to the recommended 17 play-dates. Catholic is set to host its holiday tourney on Dec. 28-29, with Lancaster Mennonite and D3 powerhouse Delone Catholic set to join in. There is no fourth team as of yet, so that tourney might look a little different when it rolls around. Stay tuned. Catholic also has nonleague dates vs. Linden Hall, Trinity and Berks Catholic, in the annual Catholic Showcase event set for Jan. 16. The Crusaders are hosting this season; the other three games: York Catholic vs. Trinity at 11 a.m.; Bishop McDevitt vs. Delone Catholic at 1:15 p.m.; and Linden Hall vs. Holy Redeemer from Wilkes-Barre at 3:30 p.m. … Northern Lebanon is at 19 games, starting Dec. 14. The Vikings will have nonleague dates against Fleetwood, Hamburg, Lebanon, East Pennsboro, Tulpehocken, Middletown and Schuylkill Valley. And in case you were wondering, Northern Lebanon is at Lancaster Catholic on Jan. 13, and Catholic visits Fredericksburg on Jan. 25. Circle those dates.
Annville-Cleona is playing it safe with 14 games, starting Jan. 12. That’s the latest start date among L-L League teams. With the Section 5 crew playing 10 league games, the Little Dutchmen have four nonleague dates on their slate: Camp Hill, Kutztown, Manheim Central and Palmyra. … Columbia is at the recommended 17 games, and the Crimson Tide has put together a nifty schedule, which includes Schuylkill Valley's holiday tournament, when Columbia will get Oley Valley on Dec. 29 in its season-opener. The Tide also has nonleague dates against Middletown, Penn Manor, Eastern York, Brandywine Heights and Antietam. … Lancaster Country Day is at 16 games, starting Jan. 9. The defending Section 5 champs and back-to-back D3-1A winners have nonleague scraps vs. York Country Day, Mount Calvary, Lititz Christian, Lancaster County Christian, Linville Hill and Veritas Academy — Country Day topped Veritas in the D3-1A quarterfinals last winter. … Lancaster Mennonite is at 16 games, starting Dec. 28 in Lancaster Catholic’s holiday event. After that, the Blazers have nonleague clashes with Millersburg, Lampeter-Strasburg, Linden Hall — which is playing its usual beefed-up slate before the Lions join the L-L League in 2022 — and Trinity. … Octorara is set for its first Section 5 foray, and the Braves are at the recommended 17 games, starting Jan. 7. The Braves have nonleague dates vs. Veritas Academy, Kennard-Dale, Christian School of York, Schuylkill Valley, Donegal, York Tech and New Covenant Christian, under rookie skipper Alex Stam. … Reigning L-L League runner-up Pequea Valley is at 16 games, starting Jan. 4. The Braves have nonleague dates vs. Garden Spot, Eastern York, Oley Valley, Northern Lebanon, Middletown and Susquenita. PV beat Susquenita in the D3-3A third-place game last season to earn a spot in the PIAA playoffs for the first time in program history.
THIS AND THAT: In case you lost count, nine teams won't play their first game until January 2021, after the holiday break: McCaskey, Penn Manor, Elizabethtown, Manheim Central, Donegal, Annville-Cleona, Lancaster Country Day, Octorara and Pequea Valley. ... Hard to believe the first weekend will feature one — uno — game, and that’s the L-S at Linden Hall nonleague clash on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Lititz. That first weekend is usually jam-packed with tip-off tournaments all across the area, with easily 50-plus games on the schedule. Not this year, not with coronavirus protocols and truncated schedules across the board. Some teams haven’t even been in the gym yet to begin preseason practice, and a bulk of the L-L League teams, as mentioned, won’t play their first game until the first week of January. … At last check, there are just 20 games involving L-L League teams scheduled before Christmas. That’s it. This also means a very busy January and February; the final night of L-L League section play is Monday, Feb. 22. The league is hoping to have a 3-round playoff bracket. Stay tuned. … Four freshmen you need to know: Garden Spot’s Morgan Pavelik, Lancaster Catholic’s Mary Bolesky and Columbia twins Brooke and Brie Droege. They are all poised to make immediate impacts in their respective programs. … Avery Hupp, one of Lebanon Catholic’s top players the last couple of seasons, is back at Lebanon after Lebanon Catholic closed its doors last spring. Rose Gonzalez, another former Beavers’ player, is also at Lebanon. Still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that Lebanon Catholic is no more. I shake my head every time I drive past the empty school up on the hill on Chestnut Street in Lebanon. … As you peruse the schedules, you’ll notice a lot of Saturday games; the league scheduled Saturday section/crossover games late in the season. That’s something new; it’s usually Tuesday/Friday. But with the truncated campaign and trying to find enough officials to cover so many games, the league tacked on Saturday dates this season.