Central York coach Kevin Schieler and Northeastern head coach Jon Eyster talk about their respective team's victories in the York-Adams League boys' basketball tournament semifinals Tuesday at Red Lion High School. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
RED LION — It’s one of the oldest axioms in sports — defense wins championships.
To a man, every member of the Central York High School boys’ basketball teams holds dear to that principle.
It was their stout defensive effort Tuesday night that led them to a 56-42 victory against New Oxford in a York-Adams League playoff semifinal at Red Lion High School. The Panthers will advance to the league championship game for a fifth straight season.
Central led wire-to-wire, and it was a combination of active hands and hot shooting that helped the Panthers establish a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Much like the last time the two Division I rivals met, in the final game of the regular season, both teams' leading scorers were held in check.
Central’s top point producer, Garrett Markey, was limited to four points. So, Tuesday’s tilt quickly hinged on which Panther would step in to fill the scoring void.
The answer was junior Cade Pribula and senior teammate Landyn Ray, who hit three of his five 3-point attempts on his way to 13 points. Ray’s triple early in the fourth quarter started to cement the outcome and pushed the Panthers' lead to 47-30, their largest of the game.
“I think that’s what makes this group a unique group, we have different guys every night. That’s three times playing them and three different leading scorers,” Panthers head coach Kevin Schieler said after his Panthers beat the Colonials for the third time in three tries this season. “We have different guys that can put up points, whether it’s getting to the rim or knocking down jump shots. Tonight it was their turn (Pribula and Ray) and they did a great job of stepping up.”
Starting fast: Central (16-7) got off to an 14-8 lead by hitting seven of its first nine shots. Pribula, had a big hand in the run.
Pribula scored six of his game-high 16 points during that opening stretch, but perhaps more importantly, was just as tough on the other end of the floor. Pribula recorded three of his eight steals during the same surge.
The game remained close, however, because the Panthers weren’t able to convert as many of those steal into baskets as they would've liked.
“For me, for myself every game, I come in expecting to hit my shots,” Ray said. “So when the ball is finding me, I put it up, and it felt great tonight.”
Adbul Janneh scored a team-high 13 points for New Oxford (17-7).
New Oxford went 16 of 46 from the floor (35 percent). The Colonials, however, did register nine 3-pointers on 23 attempts (39 percent).
As good as the Panthers were on defense, they were perhaps just as good on offense, hitting an efficient 21 of 39 shots (54 percent). The Panthers attempted only 10 shots from beyond the arc, but knocked down five of them (50 percent).
Aiming for title: Central will look for its first league title since 2014 when it heads to York College on Thursday night for a championship game that tips off at 7 p.m. against another D-I rival in Northeastern (22-2). The Bobcats beat Kennard-Dale in the other league semifinal on Tuesday at Red Lion, 58-44.
All the players on the current Panthers roster know about title-game heartbreak. They know the only way to end that run of pain will be to turn up their defensive pressure even more.
“We’re going to have to replicate it more against Northeastern,” Ray said. “Our goal in practice and every game is defense. Our offense is going to come to us. But our defense, it’s all about communicating, staying loud on defense, all stuff coach puts into our heads.”
Northeastern beat Central in last year's title game and has also beaten Central twice during 2017-18 regular season en route to the D-I championship.
Tickets: Tickets for Thursday's game will be on sale in the Central York High School lobby from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets will only be sold at the door Thursday night if there are any remaining.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.