The York boys basketball team got an early Christmas present, and it means the defending Class B state champion Dukes may be playing the role of Scrooge for their December opponents.
A month ago, the Dukes thought Nebraska football recruit Garrett Snodgrass, their 6-foot-3 physical post presence inside, was probably sidelined until at least Christmas with what turned out to be a small fracture in his lower leg. Snodgrass played the last part of the football season on two sprained ankles, but one of those sprains turned out to be more severe.
An MRI early last week, however, revealed the leg had healed enough that doctors cleared Snodgrass to start basketball season. He went through two practices and then scored 27 points to lead York to a 75-67, season-opening home win over Ralston on Thursday night.
When preseason practices began three weeks ago, “we were planning on not having him (Snodgrass) in December,” York coach Scott Lamberty said. “Right now, we’re treating it as a high ankle sprain and trying to limit his minutes (in games) and cut down on his wear-and-tear in practice.”
Snodgrass ended up logging many more minutes than Lamberty had originally planned to give him in the opener.
“But we ran into foul trouble and the way Ralston defended us meant we had to have Garrett out there,” Lamberty said. “He felt good, he didn’t seem to have any problems with it (the ankle). We never were able to pull away enough that we could sit the starters very long.”
Snodgrass isn’t the only Duke bringing a football injury into basketball season. Fellow 6-3 Super-State football standout and all-state senior guard Brady Danielson only practiced three times before the opener because of a groin injury.
Danielson, a Northern State basketball commit who is also considering a Nebraska football walk-on offer, finished with 22 against Ralston. The Dukes had four players finish in double figures — 6-foot senior point guard Jeb Lucas had 11 points and a school-record 13 assists, and 6-5 senior Wyatt Cast netted 10 points.
Danielson, Snodgrass, Lucas and 6-4 senior Reid Hoffmann all started last season on York’s 27-1 squad. Both Lucas and Hoffmann played key roles in York’s double-overtime wins at the Class B state tournament in March over Crete in the first round and Omaha Skutt in the championship game.
“Our starting five is solid,” Lamberty said. “We have kids like Jeb, Reid and Wyatt who are capable of stepping up if we need them to, but we need to develop some depth off the bench so we can cut down the number of minutes the starters have to do.”
York won both football and basketball state titles last year, but the injury-plagued Dukes fell short of defending their football title this fall, losing at Scottsbluff in the semifinals of the playoffs.
“This group of seniors is always pretty hungry, but what happened in football might be driving them even more right now,” Lamberty said. “These guys love to compete, whether it’s being the first one in the lunch line or playing pingpong for the heck of it.”
York has seven games before the Christmas break, including two against rated opponents — at home Dec. 14 against No. 6 Aurora and at C-1 No. 2 Adams Central on Dec. 18.