In their biggest game of the season on Friday night, the York High Bearcats found themselves without the services of one of their best players.

Derek Wilson, a 6-2 senior, who is averaging 13.1 points a game and can play above the rim, sustained an ankle injury in practice on Thursday.

Wilson remained on the bench when his teammates took the floor for the York-Adams Tournament championship game against South Western.

The Bearcats missed having their teammate with them, but they refused to let his absence prevent them from accomplishing their goal: winning a second straight title.

York High scored the first seven points of the game and led the rest of the way en route to a 57-44 victory.

"I felt really, really bad about Derek at the start of the game," York High head coach Troy Sowers said. "He's a kid who's completely sold out on everything we've asked him to do. But the next guy up was DaiQuest Casiano, and the next guy was Trey (Shifflett)."

Shifflett, a freshman, came off the bench and scored 10 points including two, three-point shots. Tavon Parker led the Bearcats with 17 points, and Ramel Stephens, the team's superb substitute all season, supplied 12 points.

South Western's Parker Bean was the game's leading scorer with 23 points, but no other Mustangs' player scored more than eight points.

"As a team, we're good," Parker said. "Everyone can score and everyone can defend.This is what you play for and practice for, to win a championship. I wish we would have won it all four of my years. It feels great to win the title as a junior and a senior."

Speaking of defending, the Bearcats, primarily Stephen Dickson although Parker helped out too, held Mustangs' standout Mike Duffy to five points. Duffy averages 15.2 points a game, but he didn't score until the third quarter. To his credit, the senior guard didn't force shots when they weren't available. The 6-6 Bean had a huge third quarter for the Mustangs with 15 points as his team cut a 15-point deficit to nine by the end of the quarter.

South Western pulled within eight points on three different occasions in the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs couldn't draw any closer.

Stephens was four for four, and Shifflett was three for four from the line in the fourth quarter to help the Bearcats maintain some breathing room.

"I just had to focus, concentrate and follow through as one," Stephens said of his accuracy at the line in the last quarter.

Stephens and Parker, the team captains, spoke to the other players before the game when they found out that Wilson wasn't going to be able to play.

"We told everyone they had to step it up two times as much. This feels great, but I'm hungry for more. Back in the gym on Monday."

The Bearcats were back at York College on Friday night for their fifth straight appearance in the championship game.

Key players graduate every year, but other players come along to keep the winning tradition going.

Shifflett appears to be a star of the future.

"Trey is a special player," Sowers said. "He has ice water in his veins.

"We never get tired of this (winning titles). "The coaching staff loves the players, and we've had the same coaching staff for seven years, and that is really helpful. And, the kids do an awful lot of work between April and October preparing for the next season."

York High, 23-2, will begin its quest for a District 3 Class AAAA crown on Wednesday night by taking on Hempfield. The game is set for 7 p.m. on the Bearcats' home floor.

Tickets will be on sale on Tuesday in the York High athletic office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for students.

South Western, 17-7, will also start District 3 AAAA play on Wednesday night at home. The Mustangs will host Cumberland Valley.