The New Oxford boys' basketball team was on the rise after a 49-37 upset of York-Adams League Division I powerhouse Northeastern on Friday.
Central York's squad, however, apparently doesn’t scare easily.
The Panthers (14-7) overcame a third-quarter deficit to down the Colonials (16-6) 49-44 on the Panthers’ home court.
Both teams were already assured of league playoff berths, but the Central win assures the Panthers of the No. 2 seed from D-I, while the Colonials will be the No. 3 seed.
Balanced scoring from the Panthers led to 18 fourth-quarter points, while the Colonials managed just eight. That allowed Central to rally for the win. The Panthers were down by six points with less than a minute to go before the end of the third quarter.
New Oxford enjoyed a 17-13 third-quarter scoring advantage, during which Central seemed to fade.
“I thought our defensive effort to come out in the fourth quarter was great,” Central coach Kevin Schieler said. “We had a lot of great minutes from Bryce (Bender) and Alex (Salter) coming off the bench. They picked up our defensive intensity and that led to more offensive intensity for us.”
New Oxford coach Sean Bair had watched his team fall to Central 59-52 in early January and knew what to expect from the familiar division foe.
“Their consistency and their across-the-board disciplined, solid play give you very little room to take quick shots, to turn the ball over, to not rebound,” Bair said. “They do a really great job defensively not allowing you to get great looks ... It was tough for us — I thought they just got better shots than us throughout the game.”
“I thought in the fourth quarter we got a little careless and took some tough shots, while they were a little more disciplined.”
Leading scorers: New Oxford’s Jaren Rex led his squad with 13 points, including three treys, and teammate Abdul Janneh finished with 12. Central saw a single player score in double digits. Saa’hir Cornelius finished with 15 points.
“He did a really good job getting to the rim today, and didn’t settle for jumpers,” Schieler said of Cornelius. “I think he does a very good job of harassing Rex. Rex is a very good ball handler, and you’re not going to turn him over a lot, but just to make him work extra hard, he did a nice job with that.”
The game started slowly on offense for both teams, with Central holding an 11-8 advantage after the first period. The Colonials slowly chewed away at the lead throughout the second quarter, and 1.4 seconds before the half, New Oxford’s Justin Gruver sunk 2-of-2 free throws to give his team its first lead of the night.
New Oxford’s big third quarter had Central on its heels, but down 36-31 to start the final period, the Panthers stifled the Colonial offense while sinking shots of their own.
“Coach said when we play we need to come out strong, and we need to play defense,” Cornelius said. “(In the third quarter) we were falling apart a bit, and coach said to keep our heads and play strong. We were just playing defense and communicating on both sides.”
Salter came off the bench and nailed a decisive 3-pointer with 4:29 to play, giving Central its first lead since early in the third quarter. New Oxford tied the game at 38 a few seconds later, and the Colonials stayed within two points until about the one-minute mark, but a 6-3 run from Central ultimately decided the outcome.
League playoff pairings: Up next for both teams are the Y-A playoffs. New Oxford faces off against Dover at Spring Grove at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Central will meet Littlestown at 6 p.m. Friday at Spring Grove.
At least one player is looking forward to it.
“We’re excited for the playoffs,” Cornelius said. “I think we’re ready.”
The other Y-A quarterfinals Friday pit York Catholic vs. Kennard-Dale at Red Lion at 6 p.m., while Northeastern meets York Tech at Red Lion at 7:30 p.m.
York High 55, Red Lion 54: At Red Lion, Kyree Generett's 22 points powered the Bearcats. Jaevon Woodyard added 15 for the winners, while Marquise McClean chipped in 12. Davante Dennis had 12 points for Red Lion.
York Catholic 59, Delone Catholic 41: At York, the Irish earned a share of the York-Adams Division III title (with Littlestown) and the No. 1 seed from D-III for the upcoming league playoffs. York Catholic improved to 15-7 overall and 12-2 in the division. D'Andre Davis (18), Riley Brennan (13) and Robbie McNamara (13) each hit double digits for the Irish.
Northeastern 77, Spring Grove 37: At Manchester, Antonio Rizzuto powered the Bobcats with a game-high 28 points. Also for Northeastern, Fred Mulbah scored 13 points, while Nate Wilson and D.J. Hamilton each scored 11 points. For the Rockets, Cole McKowen scored a team high 11 points. Northeastern improved to 20-2 overall and finished 12-2 in York-Adams Division II.
York Tech 58, Biglerville 45: At York Tech, Terance Romey pumped in 27 points to lead Tech, which improved to 14-8 overall and finished 11-3 in York-Adams Division III.
Dover 86, York Suburban 52: At Dover, Keith Davis poured in 32 points to lead the Eagles, who improved to 19-3 overall and finished a perfect 12-0 in the division. Brady Bowman added 15 for the winners. Aidan Hughley had 14 points for Suburban.
Dallastown 68, South Western 48: At Dallastown, Braden Caldwell's 20 points led the Wildcats. Will Barton added 11 for the winners, who improved to 13-9 overall and finished 7-7 in York-Adams Division I.
East Pennsboro 59, West York 49: At East Pennsboro, Alex McClellan led West York with 17 points, while Dayvon Cortez added 10. West York got outscored 20-9 in the final period.
Carlisle Christian 61, Red Lion Christian 55: Myles Willard (14 points, 11 rebounds), Robert Englestad (13 points, 12 rebounds), Brad Sweitzer (12 points) and Brennan Warner (10 points) paced RLC in a losing effort.
Christian School of York 50, New Covanant 20: Alex Pantelac's 22 points paced CSY to the win.
Reach David Barth at email@example.com.