After losing to New Oxford at home this season and in the semifinals of last year's York-Adams League tournament, the victory in this game meant more. York Dispatch
As he stood atop the ladder with a pair of scissors in one hand and a net in the other, Central York coach Kevin Schieler couldn’t hold back the emotions that had built up over the past five seasons.
The Central York boys' basketball leader cut off the final pieces of the championship net still left after his players claimed their nylon trophies. He lifted it above his head and swung his arm around six times while screaming in joy.
The Central York players and fans erupted in applause.
The emotions of losing in the York-Adams League title game in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and not making the game last year exploded out of Schieler as his team celebrated its 42-32 win in the league championship over New Oxford at York College.
“It’s just such a relief (to win after Central York had lost) in this game four years in a row and not get here last year,” Schieler said. “Just letting it out that we’re on top and we’re the champs.”
The atmosphere of the contest was intense from the opening tip. The standing-room-only crowd was locked into the game and it took the players a quarter to shake off the nerves.
Shut down the star: Heading into the game, the key for the Panthers was to slow down the Colonials’ standout senior, Abdul Janneh. He had 24 points in a win at Central in their last meeting and Central senior Evan Eisenhart hinted that the Panthers had a plan to stop him after Tuesday’s semifinal win over York Suburban.
That formula was to not allow Janneh to bring the ball up the floor, and once he passed it off, not let him get it back. It was effective. Janneh was held to three points, all from the foul line.
“We had to pressure him full court and not let him get the ball back once we got it out of his hands and take him away from (New Oxford junior Connor Jenkins) so that he couldn’t drive and create for him,” Central York junior Nolan Hubbs said.
Dominant defense: Despite the stellar defense by the Panthers on the Colonials’ star, New Oxford had a chance to tie the game up in the final minute.
After denying Janneh the ball, Central York forced sophomore Thomas Haugh to find someone else and the sophomore’s pass was intercepted by Hubbs. On a later possession, Hubbs swiped another steal and allowed his team to close the game out on the foul line.
Schieler said it’s only right that Hubbs made the key plays. Schieler said Hubbs reminds him of Central graduate and current York College senior standout guard Jared Wagner, who performed well in the clutch moments.
“That’s Nolan’s staple, that’s what got him on the floor as a sophomore,” Schieler said. “He might make a sloppy play on one end of the floor and he’s always ready to go get it back. He just has energy all the time. He just has such a big heart and hustles, we know sooner or later he’s going to make those plays.”
Central York junior Taylor Wright-Rawls led the Panthers in scoring with 10 points, while Hubbs and Eisenhart chipped in six points each.
Jenkins led the Colonials with 11, while senior Brayden Long added seven points and Haugh had six points and five blocks.
New Oxford led by three at halftime, but was only able to score 12 second-half points and couldn’t get anything to fall, even when it created shots.
Central York won the third quarter 12-3 with four points each by Wright-Rawls and Hubbs. In the final quarter, senior Gabe Guidinger drilled a clutch 3-pointer to pull away from the Colonials.
Not done yet: While the Y-A League title crosses off a goal that he and his teammates had for this season, Eisenhart has more planned for the end of his high school career.
“We’re not satisfied with this, we’re trying to get another net, another trophy, another medal at the district level, so more to come from us,” Eisenhart said. “We always had it in our heads that we could compete with anybody in the district and we think in the state, so we’re just going to continue to do that. Put the same work in from day one, bring the same intensity in practice and everything will take care of itself.”
►It was Central's first league title since 2014.
►The Y-A title drought, meanwhile, continues for the Colonials and the Adams County public schools. No Adams County public school has managed to win the boys' tournament championship. Only one Adams County school (the Delone Catholic boys in 2000) has won a Y-A boys' tournament crown.
►It was the second straight season that the Colonials lost in the league championship game. The Colonials dropped last year's title game to York High.
►The loss also ended New Oxford's 13-game winning streak.
►The Colonials and Panthers had split their regular-season meetings, with each winning on the other team's court. Central cruised at New Oxford, 63-39, on Dec. 20, so Thursday's game served as the rubber match. Central and New Oxford had also split the Y-A Division I regular-season crown at 12-2.
►The Panthers improved to 21-3 overall, while New Oxford dropped to 21-4.
►Both teams will next take part in District 3 action next week. Both will enter districts as No. 2 seeds, Central in Class 6-A and New Oxford in 5-A.
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.