News

McCaskey coach remembered for 'huge impact' on players

Written by Jim Seip/The York Daily Record | Jun 7, 2018 3:43 AM
steve_powell_mccaskey.jpg

McCaskey's head coach Steve Powell looks on as his season comes to an end during the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament at Coatesville High School in Coatesville on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Simon Gratz eliminated McCaskey, 64-56. (Photo: Kirk Neidermyer, For GameTimePA.com)

(Lancaster) -- Plain and simple, Steve Powell was Lancaster boys' basketball.

For people of a certain age, the only McCaskey Red Tornado teams they knew at J.P. McCaskey had been ones he coached. 

"He had a huge impact on an entire generation of players in Lancaster," former York High boys' basketball coach Troy Sowers said.

Powell died Wednesday at 67, Lancaster Online reported. Powell had overcome health issues related to oral cancer for several years, including continuing to coach despite being unable to speak following surgery to remove his tongue and the reconstructive surgeries that followed.  

"It's a huge loss for Lancaster and everybody involved in basketball," Sowers said.

A Hall of Fame player from Millersville University and Chester High School, Powell coached McCaskey for 26 seasons. He retired just a couple months ago in late April. He won 468 games as a head coach. 

During his run at J.P. McCaskey, he helped ensure York and Lancaster remained a can't-miss basketball rivalry. The Bearcats typically traveled to McCaskey's holiday tournament, and when both programs were humming the two teams typically met in the District 3 tournament.

"They were battles," Sowers said about the York and Lancaster games. "They were often overtime games, and games with final scores like 100-96. It was a clash of similar styles. They played hard and he liked his teams to get up and down the court, and we played hard and liked to get up and down the court.

"It became just a battle of wills. ... A 32-minute dogfight."

The two programs last met in the District 3 tournament in the first round of the 2014 tournament, when York won on its way to a district championship. It marked the third consecutive year the Bearcats defeated the Red Tornado in the tournament. 

The York and Lancaster battles brought out all the fans, even the fans that might only make it to one game a year.   

In a fun twist, York players also sought out Powell before games to see what the Lancaster coach was wearing, Sowers said. 

"He had a flair for those old-school sweaters," Sowers recalled about Powell.

Once York took stock of what Powell was wearing, everyone could settle in for what they knew would be a hotly-contested game.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record. 

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