DALLASTOWN - As the regular season winds down, the Central York boys' basketball team is trying not to get caught up in the hype.
The Panthers are, as they say, a cool bunch.
Riding an unbeaten mark in York-Adams League Division I action, along with the added pressure of ascending to the top of the District 3-AAAA rankings by the (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, could be enough to give many teams an over-inflated sense of confidence.
But Sam Saxton and his teammates just continue to focus on the task at hand for that particular night.
Case in point, Monday's clash with fellow Division I rival Dallastown.
While it was hardly smooth sailing for the Panthers, especially in the first half, Saxton and company showed that when they get in a groove they are hard to stop.
Saxton (19 points), Royce Clemens (15) and Peter Falci (11) all reached double-digits in scoring, helping a well-balanced Central York side down the Wildcats 68-55 at Dallastown High School.
"We try not to think (about the expectations) at all," said Saxton, whose team improved to 16-2 overall, including an 11-0 mark in the division. "We take it one game at a time and doing everything to just get a win today. We just know that we have another game (Tuesday against South Western) and that we have to get another 'W.'"
The Panthers may not be the tallest team, but what they lack in exceptional height they make up for in depth and skill. Coach Kevin Schieler's club went nine deep Monday without much drop-off.
"On the offensive end it was nice tonight because different guys found each other when we needed them to," Schieler said. "It wasn't the prettiest half-court offense that we've run all year, but it was efficient."
And while the home team hung around for much of the first half, Central was able to gain separation with well-timed shots from outside the arc.
Clemens and Saxton knocked down back-to-back triples late in the first half after Dallastown drew to within three (20-17).
Then came Falci, who drilled another 3-pointer after the Wildcats clawed back to within 29-26 early in the third period.
Clemens capped off a 10-2 run late in the same period that pushed the lead to more than 10 points at 42-30.
"It's nice to play with guys like that," Saxton said. "Whoever we have out on the court I'm confident that someone is going to make a nice play or pick you up when you make a bad one. We all just help each other out."
Dallastown (9-9, 5-7) was led by Mitch Small's 19 points. Ben Doorn chipped in 12 points while Mike Gibbs added 11 for the home team, which is in the midst of a brutal late-season gauntlet. The Wildcats will travel to York High Tuesday before back-to-back road games at Central York (Friday) and Hempfield (Saturday).
Note: A moment of silence was observed before Monday's contest in memory of Henry Schaefer, who died recently. Schaefer was a middle-school math teacher in the district as well as an assistant athletic director. After stepping down as head coach of the Dallastown girls' basketball team a number of years ago, Schaefer spent several years coaching the boys' program at the junior high level.
OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL
York Catholic 59, Hanover 55: At Hanover, York Catholic moved into a tie for first place in York-Adams Division IV with the victory. The Fighting Irish, Hanover and Delone Catholic are now all 8-4 in league action. The Irish improved to 8-9 overall, while Hanover fell to 13-5. Matt McKim paced the Irish with 23 points, including an 11-for-14 effort at the foul line. Paul Martello added 18 points for the winners, including three 3-pointers, while Conner Sullivan chipped in 11 points, including two triples. Dylan Krieger led Hanover with 23 points. York Catholic was sparked by a 17-8 second-quarter surge.
York Suburban 87, Littlestown 49: At Littlestown, York Suburban took charge of the York-Adams Division III game by outscoring the Thunderbolts 23-8 in the second quarter. The hot-shooting Trojans scored 21 or more points in the first three quarters before settling for 18 in the final quarter. P.J. McClane scored 15 points to lead Suburban, while Kevin Moats added 10. Littlestown's Brady Topper led all scorers with 18 points. The Trojans improved their league record to 9-2 and overall mark to 12-5.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.