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Last-second layup lifts Eastern York girls past James Buchanan in district playoffs

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

WRIGHTSVILLE — Arianna Seitz is well-known around the York-Adams League as one of the premier scorers in the area.

While her scoring prowess, which has her tied with Spring Grove’s Leah Kale atop the scoring leaders chart, is apparent, Seitz showcased an underrated part of her game Friday against James Buchanan.

With time winding down in the District 3 Class 4A quarterfinal, Seitz quickly found herself surrounded by two Rockets defenders. Thinking fast, Seitz jumped away from the free throw line before lasering a pass right to teammate Alaina Neal in the paint.

With three seconds left on the clock, the 5-foot-6 sophomore guard easily converted a layup right before the buzzer, sending the Golden Knights to the district semifinals with a 59-57 victory.

“I was going to shoot it,” said Seitz, who led all scorers with a game-high 25 points in the triumph. “At the end of the game, I want to shoot that shot, but they had two on me and I just saw a (white) uniform and let it rip.”

As Neal converted the assist, Seitz skipped up the court, got into a crouch and then pumped her fist as the buzzer sounded. Seconds later, the entire Eastern York bench swarmed the court in celebration of a big-time victory for the program.

“To be honest, I didn’t even see Alaina down there,” Eastern York coach Jason Seitz said. “So I don’t know how (Arianna) did, but wow that was fun.”

West York's Reagan Doll (21) and Lily Weaver (4) against Eastern York's Alaina Neal (1) during their girls basketball game in West York on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

Coach Seitz elected to hold on to his final timeout after the Rockets evened the score on two free throws with 12.2 seconds left. Neal brought the ball up the court before dishing to Seitz beyond the 3-point arc. Neal then made her way into the paint and threw both of her hands up in the air to catch the attention of Arianna Seitz. It worked, as Seitz hummed the quick pass right to Neal for the game-winner.

The emotion of winning the game in such dramatic fashion was a bonus for the Knights, who were bounced in the district quarterfinals a season ago by Bermudian Springs. Friday’s victory clinched a top-four seed in the PIAA draw while simultaneously sending the Wrightsville girls to the semifinals.

“These kids,” Jason Seitz said. “These kids … a lot of people didn’t think that we would be good this year after what we lost. They didn’t think we would be a very good team, but the girls believed.”

Eastern York's  Arianna Seitz (4) against West York during their girls basketball game in West York on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

The visitors from Franklin County certainly didn’t make life easy on the hosts. Senior forward MacKenzie Stoner was as good as advertised. The Point Park recruit scored 21 points, including a couple of long-distance 3-pointers that amazed even Jason Seitz.

“We went up against probably the best shooter in the state,” Seitz said of Stoner. “That kid … half-court? You gotta be kidding me. I saw so many games on tape, and that kid can shoot it from anywhere. She’s a heck of a player.”

Stoner helped lead the Rockets on a 10-0 run with a buzzer-beating half-court shot to end of the first quarter that drew JB within 14-11. The visitors then scored the first seven points of the second period to force a timeout.

“That’s a very good team over there,” Seitz said of James Buchanan. “They’re 15-7 for a reason. We didn’t do a lot of great things defensively tonight at times, but offensively we put up 59 points and did some things the way we wanted to do them.”

Jason Seitz gave his daughter the difficult task of guarding Stoner throughout the night. Arianna Seitz face-guarded Stoner everywhere she went around the court, but Stoner proved to be adept at finding space with the help of screens. She scored nine of her team’s 11 points in the first half and had 10 more after the break, the final two on free throws that evened it up.

Neal and Jillian Shank finished with 10 points apiece for the Knights (17-7), who will travel to top-seeded Delone Catholic at 7 p.m. Monday for their semifinal matchup. Monday’s clash will mark the second meeting between the York-Adams powers, with the Squirettes (23-2) owning a 50-33 victory in the first round of the league playoffs.

“I told the kids to enjoy this,” Jason Seitz said. “We have practice (Saturday) and then we play Monday. We have our game plan and we know them. (The first game) was a four-point game in the second quarter with three minutes left before they had a 14-0 run to end the half. In the second half, we were even, so we know that we can play with them, and we just have to do some things better.”