BASKETBALL

Eastern York girls' basketball tops Bermudian Springs for holiday tourney title

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

WRIGHTSVILLE — These may not exactly be the same two programs that faced off three times a season ago, but the Eastern York girls’ basketball team was certainly looking forward to taking on Bermudian Springs in the finals of the Wrightsville Rotary Holiday Tournament on Wednesday evening.

The Golden Knights were still a bit salty after suffering back-to-back losses to the Eagles in the York-Adams League playoff semifinals and then in the District 3 Class 4A quarterfinals, a setback that ended Eastern’s season.

The stakes may not have been as high as they were in those previous encounters, but the home team seemed to treat it as if they were. Eastern broke up a tight-knit, two point contest at the intermission by outscoring the Eagles by a 21-6 margin in the third period en route to a satisfying 57-48 triumph.

Eastern York's Kendall Felix (22) holding up the 1rst place trophy with her teammates after winning their girls basketball game against Bermudian Springs in Wrightsville on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.

The Knights improved to 6-1 overall with the victory, while the defending Y-A tournament champs fell to 5-5.

“We didn’t really end the first half the way we wanted to,” Eastern York coach Jason Seitz said. “But we did an excellent job of following what we wanted to do coming out of the half.”

The home team held the Eagles to just three points in the third quarter until a three-point play by Amelia Peters with four seconds left trimmed a 20-point lead down to 17 heading into the fourth period. Sophomore Alaina Neal and senior Kendall Felix scored eight points apiece in the stanza as the Knights came out with a 13-0 run to give the home team a much bigger cushion.

“Yeah, we jumped on them there,” Seitz said. “Which was huge.”

So, too, were the efforts of both Neal (11 points) and Felix (game-high 18 points). As part of the returning nucleus from last year’s club along with Arianna Seitz, their output was key on a night in which Seitz, the league’s leading scorer, was held to 17 points.

Eastern York's Arianna Seitz (4) against Bermudian Springs  during their girls basketball game in Wrightsville on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.

Arianna Seitz, who finished with 34 points in Tuesday’s victory over Shippensburg, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, the first of possibly many honors she’ll earn over the next two seasons.

While primarily an outside shooter last year, Seitz has added a more aggressive inside presence this season after growing several inches in height from the end of last year.

“She’s now 5-11,” Jason Seitz said of his daughter. “She may be taller than that, but we have her at 5-11. She’s really come a long way since last year. She’s in a new role. She was still one of our better scorers and one of the better shooters in the county, but this year we’re putting a lot more on her plate and she’s been handling it well.”

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While the third period was impressive, the Eastern girls were unable to put the game away in the final frame. After stretching their advantage to 20, the Knights seemed to let up a bit, a problem on several occasions this season so far.

Eastern York survived a late rally in a victory over Lampeter-Strasburg earlier this season and also blew a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter against Northeastern, which marks Eastern’s only loss of the season to date.

“In the fourth quarter we’ve kind of struggled a couple of times,” Jason Seitz said. “We have some girls that haven’t been in these types of situations and, credit to our girls, it really could have gone the other way in some of these games.

"These are the kinds of games that we want right now heading into the meat of division play. We want some close games where there’s high-intensity and a nice atmosphere and we just have to figure some things out with our play in the fourth quarter.”

The Eagles trimmed the lead to single digits by the final minute of the fourth period as the visitors seemed to grab every loose ball and contested rebound over the final six minutes of action.

“As a high school player, and a former player myself, you do tend to sometimes get a little lax when you have a big lead,” Jason Seitz said. “And we’re just not there as a team, but I’m confident that we’re going to figure it out.”

The victory has coach Seitz and his program sitting pretty heading into the new year. The Knights currently sit atop the District 3 Class 4A power rankings before playing the majority of their Division II schedule. Eastern York also has tough games against Berks Catholic and cross-river rival Columbia, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A, on its slate over the next six weeks.