York coach Ali Patton acknowledges that his team took its share of lumps during a tough nonregion schedule. That was reflected in a record that was five games under .500 going into Monday's league opener.
However, those tough experiences paid dividends for the Cougars, who surged past Chester, 63-46, at the York High School gymnasium.
"We did have some close games against some tough competition," Patton said. "However, those games really prepared us for tonight; we wanted to use that experience to get us ready for the region because these are the games that count toward ... getting into the playoffs.
"And we really wanted to come out to get this first one in the region because getting off on the right foot in this league is very important."
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The Cougars used a 27-15 fourth-quarter surge to blow open what was otherwise a competitive contest, which had the Cyclones looking at a 7 to 10 point deficit for much of the first three quarters.
Leading 18-15 after one, York opened a seven-point lead at intermission, 29-22.
The Cougars' advantage remained at seven, 38-31, after three quarters. However, the York lead finally reached double-figures at 42-31 when guard Markel Castle took a feed on a 3-on-1 fast break for a lay-up early in the fourth quarter.
Forward John Rambert converted an old fashion three-point play by swishing a jumper and sinking a free throw after being fouled, pulling the Cyclones to within nine, 48-39.
However, the Cougars' big men, Reggie McClain and DeShawn Andrews dominated the boards and finished several fast-break opportunities with layups as York gradually stretched the lead to nearly 20 points down the stretch.
McClain and Adams scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, and McClain dominated the boards with 16 rebounds.
"We finally came together as a team; I want this effort every night," Patton said.
Chester coach Andrew Dean said his team did not do a good job in fundamentals.
"We did not block out and shoot free throws well, and we did not do a good job defensively," Dean said. "We have played three games in the past four days and now are looking forward to getting back in the gym to work on fundamentals."
Jameston Gallman paced the Cyclones with 15 points.