RED LION — It may have been a year ago, but Central York senior Evan Eisenhart can still feel the pain from his team’s semifinal loss in the 2019 York-Adams League Tournament.
The Panthers’ title hopes were denied by New Oxford a season ago, 43-41.
After both teams secured league semifinal victories on Tuesday night, Eisenhart will get another chance to produce the crown that he believes should have belonged to Central York in 2019.
“We thought we should have been in the title game last year. We didn’t think they had any business beating us,” Eisenhart said. “I don’t think they have any business beating us this year.”
After New Oxford pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to beat York High for its spot in the title game at Red Lion, Central York appeared to have its semifinal against York Suburban won after three quarters.
Suburban puts up fight: The Panthers’ increased a 15-point halftime lead to 21 at the end of the third quarter. Eisenhart and Central senior Gabe Guidinger said the team lost its focus and that led to a dramatic comeback attempt by Suburban.
The Trojans (now 17-6) surpassed their total points through the first three quarters (24) in the final eight minutes of the contest with 26 points. Suburban eventually cut the lead to five points on a 3-pointer by Anthony Brown, the Trojans’ leading scorer with 19 points, but Central eventually secured a 55-50 victory.
“I am not satisfied at all with that win,” Guidinger said. “That was not a good win. We should have maintained that 20-point lead all the way to the end, but there’s stuff we just gotta fix in practice.”
Eisenhart and Guidinger led the Panthers (20-3) with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Panthers’ senior duo said postgame that the way their semifinal game ended adds a little more motivation to their practice Wednesday and the title game on Thursday, if that’s even possible.
Stopping Janneh a key: One of the keys to a championship win for the Panthers will be their ability to stop, or at least slow down, New Oxford senior Abdul Janneh.
The teams split the regular-season season series en route to sharing the Division I championship, and Janneh’s production in the two games played a big role in each outcome.
Eisenhart said the first time the squads met, Central York held Janneh to no made field goals and only free throws in a 63-39 Panthers’ win at New Oxford.
In the second contest, Janneh went off for 24 points and the Colonials earned a 69-66 road win.
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Central head coach Kevin Schieler said there isn’t much that a defense can do to stop Janneh when he is playing the way he has to end this season, helping New Oxford (21-3) to 13 straight wins.
“Abdul is a man on a mission right now,” Schieler said. “He’s just trying to will his team and do everything he can.”
Some tricks planned: Eisenhart had a different take on the topic. He said he wouldn’t divulge the Panthers’ plans, but he said they have some tricks up their sleeves to try and give Janneh problems for Thursday's game at York College, which is set for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Both teams believe they should be cutting down the nets at Wolf Gym inside the Grumbacher Center on Thursday, but only one will leave the gym with the title.
If it’s possible for Eisenhart and the Panthers to need another source of motivation, they need only to look back 365 days from Thursday’s contest to remember how they don’t want to feel when the final buzzer sounds.
“That lingers. That lingers,” Eisenhart said of last year's playoff loss to New Oxford. “We owe them one, or two now. We’ll be ready on Thursday. Coach will have us prepared.”
Scoring numbers: Janneh and Brayden Long will each enter Thursday's title contest averaging just more than 15 points per game. Connor Jenkins is next for the Colonials are nearly 13 points per contest.
Guidinger and Eisenhart lead a well-balanced Central York attack, with each averaging around 10 points per contest.
New Oxford is second in the league in scoring at 64.5 ppg, while Central is fourth at 62,.0 ppg. Defensively, Central leads the league, allowing just 45.5 ppg, while New Oxford is second at 47.5.
Tickets: Central York will have an advance ticket sale for Thursday's championship game from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday in the high school atrium.
New Oxford is also expected to have an advance ticket sale.
Tickets will be available at the door on Thursday, if not sold out. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.