EMIGSVILLE — A new season always brings a certain amount of change to a high school athletic program.
No program stays the same, normally because of injuries, graduation or improvement by younger players.
The Central York girls’ basketball team is certainly not exempt from that reality.
A season after capturing the York-Adams League Division I and playoff titles, the Panthers of 2017-2018 are a different club than the one whose season ended in March.
Central’s biggest loss certainly was the graduation of Emma Saxton, who led the team in scoring and was a defensive stalwart. With Saxton gone, the Panthers have had to figure out ways to get more out of the solid core of returners that they have.
So far, so good.
Despite a dreadful shooting night in the team’s opening game of the season, a 38-33 loss against Lampeter-Strasburg, Central has shown signs of again being a local power with three straight victories. There were wins against Penn Manor and Division I rival Dallastown, followed by a 69-49 non-league triumph over Reading on Monday night, Dec. 18.
Central was led by big nights from the team's "big two" of Nikson Valencik and Teirra Preston.
“It’s just a matter of getting to the point where we’re getting more contributions across the board,” Central coach Scott Wisner said. “Obviously both Nikson and Teirra are going to score a lot for us and teams are going to have to focus on that. We just need to get to the point where we’re getting more consistent contributions across the board.”
Preston scored a game-high 29 points, while Valencik chipped in 20. The key, as Wisner pointed out, is getting third, fourth and maybe even fifth scorers who can put the ball in the basket on nights when Preston and Valencik are seeing extra attention defensively.
That makes Sarah Sepic part of the solution. Mainly an outside shooter, Sepic will need to score at least the seven points she did against Reading on a nightly basis to help keep opponents honest.
“Right now Sarah certainly is that,” Wisner said. “And I think that she’s going to continue to be that for us, but I think we need to get even more from her. She’s the one that we’re always looking for to knock down that shot. And, if she does that, (opponents) are going to have to try to take that away as well.”
A lot of the offense, however, will likely be predicated on the defense causing turnovers and getting big stops. The Panthers did a lot of the former against Reading, which led to many transition baskets.
“If we get to a point where we can maintain that level (defensively) all the time, then I think we’re going to at least be in the running to get back to where we were,” Wisner said.
The schedule maker did Wisner and his squad a favor by putting Dallastown at the front of the Division I schedule. While neither team was at peak performance in last week’s 51-44 victory by the Panthers, having that game in hand already should make life easier for Wisner’s crew the rest of the season.
“We knew that they were going to be our primary foe for the division this year,” Wisner said. “And I was really pleased to go on the road and put up a really good, consistent effort. In games like that, you’re going to need it. And, to compare it to tonight, where we got a big lead and kind of got a little bit complacent, we knew that we can put up a good 32-minute effort.”
Red Lion Christian 54, CHASE 4: Destiny Hollingshead poured in 17 points, and Allie Damiano and Hailee Thompson each chipped in 10 to lead RLC.
Central York-Northeastern games a sell-out: Tuesday night's junior varsity and varsity boys' basketball games pitting Central York at Northeastern are sold out.
No tickets will be sold at the door. No passes, including District 3 passes (Bronze) will be accepted. Spectators must present a ticket to gain admission to the gym. Doors open at 5 p.m.
The varsity game will be televised live by Sports Shooting Stars and can be seen on Cable Channel 16 (WRCT) and will also be available online at sportshootingstarspa.com.
Conrad Weiser 52, Eastern York 36: At Conrad Weiser, Stephen Wisler's eight points paced the Golden Knights in the non-league loss.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.