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Central York, Delone Catholic girls win to set up clash in league semifinals

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

RED LION — The great thing about the York-Adams League basketball tournament is that a majority of the first-round contests are between two teams that didn’t square off during the regular season.

That was especially true on the girls' side this year, as none of the four pairings was a rematch from the campaign. The lack of somewhat familiarity is what makes these opening-round clashes so enticing.

For Central York interim head coach Sean Potts, it also made life a bit more frantic. Taking on a York Suburban side the Panthers have not played on the hardwood in several years, Potts, who is in charge while head coach Scott Wisner battles health issues, was worrying about almost everything in preparation for Saturday evening’s tilt with the Trojans at Red Lion High School.

All of those anxious moments, however, appeared to be for naught as the Division I champions cruised to a dominating 50-38 victory.

Central York against Cumberland Valley during their girls basketball game in Springettsbury on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023.

“Every coach in our league is just awesome,” Potts said. “They’re all great coaches … (York Suburban coach) Jess Weaver, (Red Lion coach Don) Dimoff, (Dallastown coach Jay) Rexroth, (York High coach Kevin) Glover and all the others. ... You aren’t going to get away with anything against them. Everyone knows what we run and what we want to do, that’s why (coaching) is hard. I get worked up about most anything, but the girls seem to take things in stride, and that’s probably a good thing.”

Potts admitted he was worked up about the game plan and strategy of taking on a Suburban side that plays hard for a full 32 minutes every night. His girls, however, took any of his concerns away as they went out and executed, building a comfortable lead early that carried on throughout the night.

Senior Bella Chimienti, who finished with 11 points, knows how difficult a position Potts is in right now but said she and her peers all have the utmost confidence in him.

“All of the seniors have definitely stepped up to help coach Potts,” Chimienti said. “But he’s done an awesome job. He’s keeping us very well prepared, and I think that’s part of the reason we did so well tonight.”

Any personal unease that Potts was feeling was also trumped by a bigger factor — motivation. It was but a year ago when the Panthers were knocked out in the opening round by a veteran Bermudian Springs side that eventually won the league title. Those feelings of regret and the questions of "What if?" haunted the Central York girls for about a year, and they were more than eager to make amends.

“I’m just so happy that we won,” Chimienti said. “I can’t even express how happy I am right now.”

Chimienti will never forget her team’s ouster after they entered the draw as the prohibitive favorite to claim the crown.

“We walked off the court disappointed after losing in the first round to Bermudian last year,” Chimienti said. “I remember what that feels like, so when we got to this game (tonight), I didn’t want to feel that way again. So, it was really important for us to come out strong. This is our — the seniors — last year, and none of us wanted to walk off the court again like that.”

The Panthers (20-2) came out in a zone defense that forced the Trojans (15-8) to the perimeter for much of the contest. While the Suburban girls were eventually able to knock down some outside shots, those didn’t come until after a cold shooting start that allowed Central to gain a 12-2 advantage with two minutes left in the opening period.

By the time the York Suburban girls were able to piece together a couple of shots, the margin was well into double digits, making it nearly impossible to come back. That didn’t stop Janay Rissmiller from trying, though, as the junior led all scorers with 21 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Now the Panthers will have a few days to get ready for perhaps on of their biggest challenges of the season to date — a clash with Division III champ Delone Catholic. The Squirettes punched their ticket to the semifinals after throttling Eastern York, 50-33, in the nightcap Saturday at Red Lion.

“I know that Delone is very good,” Chimienti said. “Very well-coached. They’re very talented and have a lot of skill, so it should be a good but tough game.”


York Catholic vs. Delone Catholic during girls’ basketball action at York Catholic Middle & High School in York City, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Delone Catholic would win the game 47-41. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Golden Knights and Squirettes have squared off many times over the past decade. But having not seen each other for the past two years, there was some intrigue as this year’s clash featured arguably the league’s best scorer in Eastern York junior Arianna Seitz against perhaps the league’s best program in Delone Catholic.

Over the first quarter and a half of action, it seemed like the contest would go down to the wire. Holding a 14-10 advantage midway through the second period, however, the Delone girls squashed that sentiment by finishing the half on a 13-0 run.

Did the Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode do anything special to facilitate that run? Not really.

“We made shots and they didn’t,” Eckenrode said succinctly.

That was indeed true, as anytime the Squirettes (22-1) had an open look, they buried it. Megan Jacoby, who finished with a game-high 20 points, drained a pair of 3s during that spurt while teammate Reece Meckley knocked down one as well.

That deficit made it difficult for the Knights (16-7) to rally back, even with Delone not really doing anything exotic on the defensive end against Seitz, who entered the night No. 2 in the league in scoring at 19.4 points per game. The Eastern standout finished with 16 points, 10 of which came in the third quarter.

“I didn’t want to do anything special with her,” Eckenrode said of Seitz. “I think that Ella Hughes — and if she isn’t the best defender in the league than I don’t know who is — can guard a small person or a big person, so we didn’t do nothing special. Just pinch in from the wings as she tried to move to the basket. We didn’t want her to (be able to) just stand there and do set-shot 3s, but we just played our normal man-to-man defense.”

Now Eckenrode and his team, which extended its winning streak to 21 games, will prepare for another heavily anticipated showdown at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at York Tech against Central York in the league semifinals.

“We played Plymouth-Whitemarsh, who is pretty doggone good,” Eckenrode said of the defending PIAA Class 6A champs who are the only team to defeat Delone so far this season. “But Central is right up in there. If they were in 4A, I think that they would be the team to beat, so it’s going to be a challenge for us.”