York Defeats Cascade, Will Make 5th Trip To The Glass House

by Rusty Ellis

The York Institute Dragons fought off a tough fight early from the Cascade Champions and used a late run in the third quarter to advance to the Class 2A State Tournament with their 57-38 win.

Bryson Bilbrey led the way with a game-high 25 points for the Dragons, while Heath Wattenbarger added a 15-point effort for head coach Rodney Pile.

“They almost played bully ball with us early,” Pile said. “My guys responded, and I was really pleased with that…once we had a lead, we were able to build on it. We wanted to win the third quarter, and they cut it down to three, but we pushed it back to 13 going into the fourth. It got a little sloppy, but I felt like it was in our favor. Tickled to death about how hard we played, I think we played hard and we controlled the boards.”

Early on, York used Bilbrey and Wattenbarger heavily in the post to get the offense going. Pile said that had a lot to do with how Cascade chose to guard the Dragons.

“Yeah they played behind us in the post,” Pile said. “We’ve got two really good post players, and a third that comes off the bench in Will Beaty, but Bryson and Heath were great tonight…that’s where we had to go, everybody loves shooting the three and we only made two threes tonight, but we made a lot of shots inside. Just a tremendous effort by our kids.”

After losing two key players to graduation in Nic Smith and Jon Heddings, there was plenty of uncertainty to start the year. That grew a little more when the Dragons didn’t have Bilbrey or Myles Leffew back from football until a few games into the season.

Pile says that after all of that, he’s just proud of how the team grew throughout the year.

“It’s been awesome,” Pile said. “We got things going here and had to play four tough games without them…I was hoping when we were 1-3 that we would be able to plug in our football guys and take off, but that’s not how it works. We’re playing really well right now, and hopefully we can continue it next week.”

Now the team will await the State Tournament next week. Until then, they’ll support the Dragonettes when they take on Westview on Thursday.

Make no mistake though, the Dragons will be ready to go next week according to Pile.

“We’re going to take tonight and tomorrow and enjoy it,” Pile said. “Any time you can make it this far, it’s special…we’ll find out who we’re playing and what they do, and then we’ll go down Thursday and support the girls. Next week, we’ll have to get right back to work. There’s eight teams left, and we’re tickled to death to be one of those eight.”