This year's Central York boys' basketball team achieved something that no other Panthers' team had done in 40 years by winning the York-Adams League Tournament championship.
Ten years after the 1974 Central team captured a league title, the 1984 Panthers distinguished themselves in the District 3 playoffs, advancing all the way to the Class AAA final before losing to Warwick.
The current team holds the No. 2 seed for the District 3-AAAA playoffs, which begin Wednesday night. Central will play host to Lebanon, the Lancaster-Lebanon League runner-up, in a first-round game.
Thirty years after the 1984 team made its deep playoff run, the 2014 team has the potential to mark the anniversary of that achievement with its own impressive run through the bracket.
The Panthers will enter the playoffs riding a 16-game winning streak. Their last loss came on Dec. 27 to Wilson (63-60 in overtime). Wilson is the No. 1-seeded AAAA team.
Central features balanced scoring (Sam Saxton and Royce Clemens average in double figures and Charlie Gingrich supplies 9.8 points a game), a tenacious defense (46.8 points per game) and terrific rebounding, despite not having a starter taller than 6 feet, 3 inches.
The Panthers' path in the AAAA bracket is treacherous, with stiff challenges at almost every stop.
Red Lion is in the bottom half of the draw with Central. So are Carlisle, Cumberland Valley and Cedar Crest, the Lancaster Lebanon-League champion. Central owns three victories over Red Lion this season, but all of them were by single digits. The Panthers also defeated Carlisle and Cumberland Valley in non-league matchups.
York-Adams League runner-up York High (18-6) is in the top part of the AAAA draw along with Wilson, Reading, Harrisburg and Lancaster McCaskey, York's opening-round foe. The Bearcats, despite being young (no senior starters), have the potential to keep playing for a while, provided they can put this past Saturday's loss to Central behind them.
West York earned the second seed in Class AAA. The Bulldogs will be at home Tuesday night (7 p.m.) against Milton Hershey.
West York's only losses were to Central and York High. Bulldogs' coach Bill Ackerman counts on his team's depth to wear down opponents. Ackerman used 11 players in the first quarter of some games this season.
Bermudian Springs and York Suburban are in West York's half of the draw. Northeastern, which won a play-in game last Friday, will seek to knock off top-seeded Bishop McDevitt in a AAA game on Tuesday.
Hanover owns the No. 1-seeded spot in AA, which features three other York-Adams teams, Delone Catholic, York Catholic and Biglerville.
Delone Catholic, which captured the past two district crowns, defeated York Catholic twice this season, but it lost twice to Hanover. The Nighthawks, meanwhile, fell two times to York Catholic.
York Catholic opens against Biglerville, a team that the Fighting Irish prevailed over in both meetings this season.
Columbia, the No. 2-seeded club, beat Hanover by nine points in the second game of the season.
A team to watch in AA is Trinity. The Shamrocks , who own 11 district championships, started out 1-8, but they've won eight of their last 12.
Lebanon Catholic is seeded first in Class A. New Hope Academy gained the No. 4 seed, and the Mighty Ants will be an extremely tough out after playing a very demanding regular-season schedule.
Girls' playoffs: York-Adams champion Dover heads a group of four local teams in girls' Class AAAA.
The Eagles returned most of the players from last year's team that made it all the way to the state quarterfinals.
Alayah Hall, who's averaging more than 17 points a game, is the star for the Eagles, but the supporting cast is very good, too. Dover is seeded third behind Manheim Township and Cumberland Valley.
Dallastown and Red Lion are in the AAAA draw, too, and by virtue of their seeds (Dallastown is No. 7, and Red Lion is No. 10), they'll meet in the first round. The Wildcats and Lady Lions split two regular-season games, with Dallastown winning the second game in overtime.
New Oxford, which opened district play by defeating Harrisburg, will face Cumberland Valley in the round of 16.
Susquehannock gained the No. 1 seed in Class AAAA. Katie Wagner and Shannon Druck both average better than 14 points a game for the Warriors, last year's District 3 runner-up. Defending champion Palmyra is seeded second this season. Susquehannock will begin its quest for district gold medals on Wednesday night by taking on another York-Adams team, Northeastern. The Bobcats qualified to play the Warriors by winning a 64-59 double-overtime thriller from Donegal on Monday night.
West York is the No. 8 seed in AAA and Eastern York is the No. 12 seed.
York Catholic, which has owned Class AA in recent years, will try for an unprecedented ninth consecutive District 3 crown. Hannah Laslo delivers better than 11 points and a sizeable number of rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who defeated Dallastown and Susquehannock in the York-Adams Tournament before bowing to Dover in the final.
Another parochial school powerhouse, Delone Catholic, will bid to break York Catholic's monopoly on district titles. The Squirettes and Fighting Irish split two games this season, with each team winning on its home floor. If they meet again this season, it will be on the floor of the Giant Center in the district final.
Biglerville and Hanover will also compete in AA. The Canners will travel to Bishop McDevitt on Tuesday night. The winner will play at York Catholic on Friday night.
— Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.