Playing for small Red Lion Christian, Steckel cracked the 2,000-point barrier at the end of November.
He entered his senior year with 1,858 career points. And while the area's career scoring mark of 2,573 -- set by Red Lion Christian's Frank Hawkins in 1995 -- may sound out of reach, Steckel scored 764 points during his junior season. Should he score 716 points in his senior year, he will set the mark. Despite coaching what could be the two most prolific scorers in York County history, Red Lion Christian coach Dave Klinedinst downplays the coincidence.
"We don't really emphasize individual records," Klinedinst said. "We emphasize winning state championships."
One reason few hoops fans in the area noticed Steckel's play before this season is Red Lion Christian's schedule. It doesn't play in the YAIAA, and it is not a member of the PIAA. Playing in the Keystone Christian Education Association, the Swordsmen's season ends before the PIAA crowns district champions. The association and school permit middle school players to participate in varsity sports before they actually enter the ninth grade. And while that helped Hawkins compile almost 200 points before he reached the ninth grade, Klinedinst believes Steckel scored fewer than 10 points at the varsity level during his eighth-grade season.
Returning four of five starters from last year's squad that went 19-11 and placed third in the KCEA state playoffs, Steckel (who averaged 25.5 ppg last season) and Kosta Kastrunes (14 ppg) should pace the Swordsmen. Leading rebounder Roland Bown (11 rebounds per game) and Jake Myers should provide experience. Ninth-grader Corbin Willard ranked second on the team in steals last year and continues to show improvement.
A look at some other programs around the area:
Red Lion Christian girls: Coming off a 24-3 season and runner-up finish in last year's KCEA state playoffs, Red Lion Christian appears to be in a rebuilding stage after losing four of its starters from last year.
"I thought it might be a challenge for them this year, but then we won our first three games," Klinedinst said.
Senior Alyssa Lake (4.9 ppg) is the lone returning starter. Senior Ciera Lartz returns to the team after not playing last season. Sophomores Alee Hubbard (five ppg) and post player Olivia Dettinger should also help the team.
Christian School of York boys: Senior guard Josh Allensworth is the only returning starter with big-time minutes. Senior guard Tyler Smith has three years of experience. But the team lost all its post players to graduation.
"That will be our biggest question mark," Crusaders coach Mike Walker said.
Chinese foreign exchange student Roger Yu and sophomore Bryce Zirkle will attempt to hold down two of the forward positions.
Christian School of York girls: Coming off a 17-6 season, Christian School of York has reason to expect another good season despite losing two post players to graduation. Senior point guard Hannah York is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing all but six games last season. York tore her anterior cruciate ligament six games into the 2009-10 season, and she should pass an individual milestone this year -- needing 154 points to crack 1,000 for her career.
Junior guards Bethany Breighner and Brittany Andress also return to a team that lost in its league championship game last season.
Head coach Mike Graybill notes his team does not have great depth, but he's hoping to see what some of his younger players can do during the regular season.
New Hope Academy girls: In his first year as a head coach, Brandon DeShields (a 1999 William Penn graduate) is attempting to build the Mighty Ants' program. The former Mansfield University player has just nine players on varsity this year, and New Hope will not have a junior varsity program this year.
But New Hope does have 19 sixth-grade girls playing basketball. So the hope is New Hope will continue to grow as a program.
"I just want them to try to get better everyday," DeShields said. "I really don't have any expectations as far as wins and losses."
Wajahne DeShields will be one of the team's playmakers, and she should earn playing time at several different positions.
New Hope Academy boys: Former HACC men's basketball coach Anthony Hall took over the coaching and athletic director duties from Sam Sutton. The Mighty Ants managed to win the program's first postseason game, and Hall hopes the program continues to show improvement.
Slashing guard Rasaun Mosley has made "the biggest strides" since Hall has arrived at New Hope. And point guard Jalin Williams has joined the Ants for his final season of high school hoops. Three players from last year's squad have transferred out of New Hope, but Hall expects to have a roster of about
10 players by January.
"We will be a quick, athletic team," Hall said. "Defensively if we catch on ... if the guys pick up the man-to-man defense, I think we can be a different team than last year."
Anthony Morgan and K'Ron Washington also return and should help the Ants.
Struggling to fill its schedule, New Hope has only 19 games scheduled but Hall hopes to petition the YAIAA for membership next year.
York Country Day girls: The Greyhounds have shown improvement after going 1-19 two seasons ago. York Country Day won nine games last season, and since entering in a co-op agreement with York County Tech for girls' basketball, the program has seen an increase in numbers -- with 10 new players.
"It's been great as far as practice time," coach Jim Kunkle said. "We usually averaged eight or nine players a year and now we have bodies we can use off the bench and in practice. It's a great opportunity ... we're really focusing on building the program up and building team chemistry."
The Greyhounds have four key returnees, including junior Rebecca Ream and senior point guard Corinne DiPietro. Ream hit 26 3-pointers last season while DiPietro led the team in rebounds.
York Country Day boys: The Greyhounds did not have enough players interested in basketball to field a team this year, but the school hopes to return to the court next season.