The final week of the District 3 basketball playoffs is upon us.
The playoffs started with 24 York-Adams area squads.
After one week, only five have been eliminated, with 10 of the 24 having already clinched PIAA berths. That means this week will be make-or-break time for the other nine teams.
Here’s a quick preview at two of the bigger games this week, one boys’ contest and one girls’ contest:
Northeastern vs. Spring Grove, 5-A semifinals, 8 p.m. Monday at Hershey's Giant Center: This was a showdown that many expected to see a few weeks ago in the York-Adams playoff title game.
Unfortunately for the Rockets (20-6), Central York ruined those plans.
With the 6-A Panthers out of the picture in the 5-A bracket, we're getting that showdown in the district semifinals.
The two sides split their regular-season match-ups, with the Bobcats (25-2) rolling to a 75-59 triumph back in early January on their home court, while Spring Grove returned the favor later in the month, 77-67, in Papertown.
Both games underscored each team’s biggest strength. Northeastern used its exceptional talent and balance in its victory. The Rockets avenged that loss behind a terrific game by Michigan recruit Eli Brooks, who lit up the stat sheet to the tune of 38 points, 18 rebounds and six assists.
Can the top-seeded Bobcats figure out a way to put a lid on Brooks? Will fourth-seeded Spring Grove be able to neutralize Northeastern’s balance?
The answers to those questions will likely be the key in determining who advances to the District 3 5-A title game at 8:30 p.m. Friday, back at the Giant Center.
Central York vs. Cumberland Valley, 6-A semifinals, 5 p.m. Monday, at Hershey's Giant Center: The Panthers (24-2) have proven to be the best team throughout the entire York-Adams League, but how do they stack up against the rest of District 3?
We’ll soon find out.
The York-Adams champs will square off with the three-time reigning PIAA state champion Eagles (19-5), with the winner advancing to the District 3 6-A final at 6:45 p.m. Friday.
Don’t let Cumberland Valley’s five losses fool you. Top-seeded CV dropped three games to premier, out-of-state competition, one to rival Central Dauphin (the No. 3 seed) before being upset in the Mid-Penn semifinals by 2-A power Camp Hill.
That loss to the Lions, however, came with standout point guard Katie Jekot just returning from a foot injury. Jekot, a St. Joseph’s recruit, is now back to nearly 100 percent, which proved big in the Eagles’ 41-38 double-overtime victory Thursday against C.D. East.
Guarding Jekot will likely fall upon Central standout Emma Saxton. The Bloomsburg recruit is one of the best defenders in the York-Adams League, but she will have her hands full with Jekot.
The fourth-seeded Panthers will have to find a way to get their offense back in gear. The York-Adams leaders in offensive output per game were held to just 43 points in their quarterfinal victory over Cedar Cliff. Saxton, who came in averaging 21.5 points a game in her previous seven contests, was limited to nine against the Colts.
Boys' 1-A: The York Country Day boys will gun for their second-consecutive District 3 1-A title this week.
Standouts Jordan Ray and De’Aireus Brown were pivotal in last year’s victory and both will be back again for the repeat.
Not everything, however, is the same with the Greyhounds (17-4). If they repeat, this time they’ll do it with a different coach at the helm. With Coach Corey Stiles being placed on administrative leave in the middle of January, Chris Charleston has been leading YCD ever since. Charleston also coaches the YCD girls’ team, but their season ended, allowing him to focus solely on the exceptionally talented boys’ team.
If the No. 1 seeded Greyhounds survive another clash against No. 4 Mount Calvary (17-8), a team they handled easily, 65-33, in the regular season, they'll get the winner of No. 2 Lancaster County Christian (19-4)/No. 6 West Shore Christian (15-8) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Giant Center.
Girls’ 3-A: Will a different class (3-A) make a difference when top-seeded York Catholic (19-5) and second-seeded Delone Catholic (19-6) square off for the District 3 girls' title at 6 Thursday?
The Irish and Squirettes combined to capture 13 of the last 14 2-A titles. Delone won three in a row during the Meredith Cox era before York Catholic went on an unprecedented 10-year winning streak, which ended when Camp Hill downed YC last year.
The YC/DC rivalry has been fairly one-sided over the past decade. The Irish have claimed almost every big showdown with the Squirettes during that time, but almost all of those games have been close.
York Catholic won both games this season, but again, both were very close.
York Catholic’s loss to the Lions in last year’s 2-A title game proved that no streak lives on forever. Will this be the time coach Gerry Eckenrode’s squad finally figures out a way to get the best of York Catholic?
Girls’ 5-A: Tuesday evening’s 5-A semifinal was supposed to be Round 2 of a budding rivalry between No. 2 Susquehannock and No. 3 New Oxford.
With the Colonials (20-7) falling to Twin Valley (20-5) in the quarterfinals, however, the Warriors (21-3) will have to wait for a possible rematch with a New Oxford team that handed them a 54-40 setback in the York-Adams playoffs.
You can be pretty sure that coach Dave Schreiner and his team are not losing any sleep about that missed opportunity. Instead they are hard at work trying to make a return trip to the Giant Center at 11 Saturday morning for the title game. Susquehannock last played there back in 2014 when it dropped the then-3-A title game to West Perry, 48-46.
To get there, they'll have to figure out a way to beat a Twin Valley squad that seems to be heating up at the right time. The Raiders finished in a three-way tie atop the Berks Conference Section I standings. They’ve won 12 of their past 14 games.
The key for the Warriors will be getting opportunities against Twin Valley’s stingy defense. The Raiders allow just under 34 points a game, but every team that has scored at least 47 points against them has claimed victory.
Consolation notes: The teams in the consolation bracket that have already claimed PIAA berths are the three in girls’ 5-A, as well as the York Catholic boys in 3-A. Dover, West York and New Oxford are all moving on, but they have to battle for the No. 5-8 seeds in girls’ action, while the Fighting Irish were already assured of a state berth just by making the 2-A semifinals directly as the No. 2 seed.
The Central York boys can lock up 6-A berth with a victory. The Panthers (18-9) face a Carlisle (16-8) squad Tuesday that eliminated Dallastown in a first-round thriller. A Central loss ends its season. Central beat Carlisle in the regular-season, 73-65.
New Oxford (12-11) needs to defeat Shippensburg (17-6) Monday to sew up one of the 10 state berths in 5-A boys.
Eastern York (14-10) and Littlestown (15-9) need to win on Monday and Wednesday to claim one of the five state berths in 4-A boys.
Dallastown (6-A girls), Eastern York (4-A girls), York Suburban (4-A girls) and the Christian School of York (1-A girls) will similarly need to either win or win out to advance. The Wildcats (13-12) have two chances to cash in on one of the seven berths in the 6-A bracket. Either a win Monday against McCaskey (18-9) or a victory in a seventh-place contest Thursday against either C.D. East (14-9) or Cedar Cliff (18-6) will do the trick.
In 4-A, both York Suburban (13-10) and Eastern York (14-10) can clinch berths with a victory Tuesday. A loss, however, will eliminate both York-Adams Division II entrants. Both games Tuesday will be tough. The Knights take on an emerging Berks Catholic (14-12) side, while the Trojans have to defeat Wyomissing (22-3), the No. 2 seed in the bracket.
CSY (19-6) can punch a ticket to the PIAA playoffs for the third straight year with a victory Tuesday against Lancaster Country Day (12-11).
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.