All hail the Spartan goofballs

More news about: York (Pa.)
There's nothing funny about the way Dalton Myers has played this season after missing last year with an injury.
Photo by York (Pa.) athletics

By Phil Soto-Ortiz

A perfect record through 16 games. A monumental upset victory. A No. 7 national ranking. A season that has the makings of something historic at York College has been the product of a tight-knit culture, a team with a chip on its collective shoulder…

And the leadership of three “goofballs.”

Or is it two goofballs and a studious gym rat?

It depends on whom you ask about Spartan seniors Dalton Myers, Blayde Reich and Matt Scamuffo.

“Dalton and Blayde are goofballs, and Matt’s the super-serious one,” said Matt Hunter, the sixth-year coach who assembled this group. “(Scamuffo) is the most reserved of the three. He’s a silent leader.”

“Matt – he’s kind of reserved,” said Myers, agreeing with his coach. Until he was interrupted. “Well, Blayde says he’s the second-biggest goofball on the team.”

“I can tell you, he’s the second-biggest goofball, behind Dalton,” said Reich, taking the phone from Myers. “I’d like to think I’m a little more serious, but it could go either way.”

York senior forward Blayde Reich

The Spartans may have some disagreements about Scamuffo’s serious-to-goofy differential, but there is no arguing amongst them about what has motivated them to great heights this year.

“A lot has to do with the way last season ended,” Hunter said, referring to the Spartans’ double-overtime loss to Salisbury in the CAC tournament semifinals. “It was a tough pill to swallow. It left a lot of angry Spartans. They’re passionate about changing that ending. We were very motivated from that point forward.”

“Going into the off-season, there was definitely a chip-on-the-shoulder feeling,” Scamuffo said. “We had guys in the gym shooting at all hours, guys in the weight room. It was definitely something we all talked about, and we were all on the same page.”

Having everyone on the same page is something that comes naturally to the Spartans. Myers, a grad student who missed most of senior year with an injury, credits Hunter, the sixth-year coach, for assembling a team of complementary players and personalities.

“He’s in charge of bringing in everyone that we need to fit into this culture,” Myers said. “And if they don’t (fit), they end up leaving anyway, and then the culture gets better. But he did a great job recruiting to keep people who are the best individuals for the culture and on the floor.”

The team Hunter has assembled, with Myers back for a fifth season after redshirting last year, has displayed a fast-paced game that has the Spartans leading the league in scoring by a wide margin. They also allow more points than all but three sub-.500 teams in the CAC, but Hunter attributes that to the high number of possessions in a typical York game. The one team York has played at a slower pace has been Mary Washington. The Spartans have managed to tamp down a good Eagles offense both games, but UMW handed York its first loss, 59-57 on Saturday.

Most games, however, the Spartans are giving up a good number of points but scoring more, such as in an 83-79 win over Swarthmore and, just over two weeks later, a 90-87 overtime win over No. 2 Middlebury.

The offense the Spartans run is not the one designed prior to Myers’ injury last season.

“We actually kind of stumbled upon it mid-year, when Dalton got hurt,” Hunter said. “In the game at Randolph-Macon, we put Blayde in the high post, and it’s kind of grown over the last year from that point. It’s all about spacing, creating driving opportunities for our guards and post-up opportunities for the forwards. We had been doing a lot of high-low stuff, and our spacing wasn’t good. It made it a lot easier for teams to key on our front-court guys.”

It clearly has been anything but easy to key on Myers and Reich this season. They rank second and fourth in the CAC in scoring, averaging a combined 37 points per game. Scamuffo is third in the league in three-pointers made. All three have been on All-CAC teams, and their supporting cast is strong, as only one player graduated from last year’s 17-10 team.

That kind of talent made it the perfect year for Hunter to up the ante when assembling the schedule. In addition to Swarthmore and Middlebury, Hunter booked an exhibition date against Division I mid-major Mount St. Mary’s. The game, a 91-80 Spartans loss, did not count on York’s record but it did on the Mount’s, meaning the Spartans kept it respectably close against a defending D-I conference champ that needed to win.

“We were really competitive that night,” Hunter said. “The guys competed at a really high level. That was our mentality. We walked out of there disappointed, but we took a lot out of that game, knowing that we competed at the highest level.”

Games such as that should have York ready to make another run at a CAC title, which the Spartans last won in 2012, the year before Hunter arrived. That, however, is far from the Spartans’ minds.

“You don’t win 16 games in a row in college basketball,” Hunter said. “It’s something you don’t focus on, don’t concentrate on. It’s nice to be recognized; it’s nice to have you call us, but it’s a little three-game season: two practices and a game. Our focus is one what we have to do to beat Frostburg on Wednesday.”

O’Dell Propels Swarthmore

Sophomore Zac O’Dell earned the Centennial’s weekly award for his role in two more Garnet wins. The highlight was his performance Saturday in a win over a tough Dickinson team. He scored 18 points and added 12 rebounds and four blocked shots to help Swarthmore maintain a one-game lead over Ursinus and F&M.

Lycoming Keeps Hanging On

The Warriors pulled out another close one Saturday. Alex Newbold scored a career-high 27 points to help Lycoming get past Hood in overtime. He earned Commonwealth Conference honors for his performance. Lycoming’s previous two games were one-point wins over Albright and Arcadia, but the Warriors are now 17-1.

Streaky Scranton

The Royals opened their year 2-8. Then they won five straight before Saturday’s 76-52 loss at Catholic. Still, they’re right in the thick of the Landmark race, tied with CUA for second place at 4-2. They’ll get a chance Wednesday night to steady the ship with a home game against Drew. The Rangers are 6-0 in league play.

Phil Soto-Ortiz

Phil Soto-Ortiz has been a play-by-play sportscaster for basketball, football and lacrosse at Franklin & Marshall College since 2010, and has also called games at Division II St. Anselm College in New Hampshire and at high schools around Connecticut. He writes the annual Centennial College football preview for's Kickoff publication and has covered sports for the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News and several dailies and weeklies in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He graduated from Syracuse University, where he called the play-by-play of the women?s basketball team's games, including their last win over the UConn Huskies.
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