With 4 minutes and 23 seconds left in the game, Central York boys' basketball coach Kevin Schieler called for a full timeout.
As his team jogged off the floor, Schieler stepped out on the court and pointed to his right, instructing his players to sit down on the bench. Hosting a District 3-AAAA playoff game, the No. 2 seed Panthers had just watched No. 15 seed Lebanon cut a 20-point deficit to 15.
"We had it up to 20 a couple times. I was hoping we could extend that a little bit," Schieler said. "We were giving up too many offensive boards and too many easy drives. I don't know if we were tired. I don't know if we thought it was over. We just needed to gain our composure a little bit."
Following the timeout, Lebanon answered with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 13 before Central York finally responded with a 5-0 run to put the game out of reach. Schieler pulled his starters with 1:20 left and the Panthers went on to win, 59-43. With the win, they advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal round, where they'll face No. 7 seed Carlisle (17-6) at Hershey's Giant Center at 11:30 a.m.
The York-Adams League Tournament champs, Central (23-2) did just about everything right in Wednesday's win. Everything except close out Lebanon down the stretch.
"It was an issue with us in the league tournament as well," Schieler said. "We had a chance to do that against Delone (Catholic) and let them hang around a little bit. We have to learn that this is the postseason and we can't let teams hang around."
But it's a lesson learned for a team and a coaching staff that is expected to make a deep postseason run, although, for the most part, the Panthers are still in the early stages of experiencing playoff basketball.
"It's extremely tough," Schieler said of getting to the district quarterfinals. "This is the first time this coaching staff has made it out of the first round. We lost in this round to Central Dauphin two years ago. Didn't even qualify last year. It was really big because this was the lose-and-go-home game. Now, we don't want to have to rely on it, but if we do lose there's still a consolation bracket for states."
Central led 14-7 after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 26-14 at intermission. The Panthers opened up the second half with a 9-2 run and later grew its largest lead of the night to 41-20 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. Central's defense was the key to its victory.
"Our (defensive) game plan was to pressure the ball to make it hard to throw it inside, front the post to make it hard to throw it inside, back the post to make it hard to throw it inside," Schieler said. "They're not a bad shooting team, they just don't rely on the three a lot. They really want to pound the ball inside."
It led to Lebanon (18-9), the Lancaster-Lebanon League runner-up, shooting 31.3 percent from the floor (15-of-48). Junior guard Sam Saxton (15 points) and sophomore forward Charlie Gingrich (12 points) paced the Central offense.
OTHER BOYS' BASKETBALL
York Catholic 68, Biglerville 37: At York Catholic, the Irish completely dominated to advance to the District 3-AA quarterfinals. The No. 7 seed Irish (11-11) will travel to No. 2 seed Columbia (14-8) for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday. Columbia had a bye into the quarterfinals. Biglerville ends its season at 7-15. Matt McKim poured in 20 points for York Catholic. He got double-digit support from Paul Martello (17) and Andrew Forjan (13). Zack Sheets had 19 points for Biglerville, which lost to York Catholic three times this season.
Carlisle 52, Red Lion 32: At Carlisle, the Lions' season ended with a District 3-AAAA first-round loss. The 10th-seeded Lions finished at 19-6. No. 7 seed Carlisle improved to 17-6. Mike Fox led Red Lion with 13 points, while Stone McCreary added 11. Red Lion led 6-5 after a low-scoring first quarter, but Carlisle outscored the Lions in each succeeding period.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.