Central's long wait to celebrate another boys' league basketball championship ended on Saturday night.

The Panthers won their first York-Adams crown since 1974 by scoring a 59-41 victory over York High in the title game played before a standing-room only crowd at York College.

The Bearcats, playing in their sixth consecutive championship game, got off to a strong start by outscoring Central, 18-12, in the first quarter.

York, though, managed just 23 points the rest of the way including four in the second quarter and three in the fourth quarter.

Central's as it's done all season, combined tough defense with a balancd offense. Sam Saxton (22 points), Royce Clemens (16 points) and Charlie Gingrich (14) all finished in double figures for the winners.

Central’s Royce Clemens (front) battles with York’s Trey Shiflett for the ball. Bil Bowden photos
Central's Royce Clemens (front) battles with York's Trey Shiflett for the ball. Bil Bowden photos
Saxton scored many of his points on a series of layups either off a drive of after catching a pass in the team's half-court set. Trey Shifflett led York High with 16 points.

Following the final horn, Saxton and his teammates accepted their medals and then cut down the net saving the last piece for head coach Kevin Schieler.

"It's amazing to win the first title in 40 years," Saxton said. "That was our goal this season.

"We don't even know the people who won the last one."

Saxton said his team's 61-48 victory over York High earlier in the season boosted the Panthers' confidence heading into the championship game. However, they weren't over-confident."

"We knew we could beat them, but we knew they were much improved (over the first game)."

York High, which avenged a regular-season loss to West York by defeating the Bulldogs in the tournament, were hoping to do the same to Central.

The Bearcats, who entered the game averaging 67.3 points a game, couldn't overcome two cold-shooting quarters (two for 10 from the field in the second quarter and one for nine from the field in the fourth quarter."

"I was very, very pleased with our defensive performance," Schieler said.

"We had a little bit of nerves early, but we settled down and played very well."

Central ran off seven straight points to start the second quarter turning an 18-12 deficit into a 19-18 lead.

York High's D'Montie Shaw stopped the run with a driving layup, but Peter Falci started a streak of six Panthers' points when he scored on a driving layup. Gingrich's offensive rebound basket with just one second on the clock allowed Central to take a 29-22 lead to the locker room at halftime. "Charlie's basket right before the half was huge," Saxton said. "Charlie's one of the strongest players I've ever seen."

York High drew within four points twice in the third quarter, but that as close as the Bearcats would come the rest of the way.

Clemens put on a shooting clinic in the third quarter by connecting on all four attempts from the field, one of which was a three-point shot from the right corner.

The 6-1 senior also spearheaded the Panthers' perimeter defense by harassing shooters and going for steals

. "Defesively, our guards can apply ball pressure," Clemens said. "We know we can gamble because we have great help defense."

"Winning this game is a really big thing for our program. We played some good solid basketball."

The reward was a long-sought title.

"Fantastic credit to all the boys who started preparing (for this season) back in March," Schieler said. "It's going to be fantastic to put another year on that banner (in the Central gymnasium)."

Central will now switch its focus to the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs. The Panthers, 22-2 and winners of 16 straight games, will take on the winner of Monday's Waynesboro-Lebanon game. The game is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Central.

York High, meanwhile, will also be in District 3 Class AAAA action the same night. The Bearcats, 18-6, will host former Central Penn League rival Lancaster McCaskey.