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FRIDAY'S BASKETBALL: Central York boys outlast Red Lion in battle of unbeaten teams, 78-75

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • The Central York boys' basketball team earned a 78-75 win vs. Red Lion on Friday night.
  • Central York improved to 4-0 overall this season. Red Lion is 6-1.
  • Central York came into the game averaging nearly 90 points per game.
Red Lion vs. Central York during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Central York would win the game 78-75. Dawn J. Sagert photo

As the Central York players walked into the locker room at halftime on Friday night, the Panthers found themselves in an unfamiliar position — losing.

Central York sprinted past its first three opponents while averaging nearly 90 points per game. Friday night against Red Lion, however, was much different. The Lions led 35-30 at the break and forced the Panthers to truly play all four quarters of a game for the first time this season.

“We were a little upset and shocked by it, but coach came back in the locker room and told us, ‘It feels like we’re down 100, but we’re down (by) five,’” Central York senior Nolan Hubbs said. “We went back out there, punched them in the mouth and just played our game.”

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Central York coach Jeff Hoke said his goal was for the Panthers to erase the deficit and have the game tied by the middle of the third quarter. His team answered that challenge and went on a 10-0 run to grab the lead and eventually hold on for a 78-75 win in a showdown of York-Adams Division I boys' basketball unbeatens.

“I knew we would hit (adversity) at some point. I didn’t want to hit it this early, but it was hit and we learned a lesson,” Hoke said.

Central coach is hard on himself: Hoke said not only his players learned from the tough victory, but he learned some things, too. He gave himself a C grade after the game, while giving his players an A. With limited practice time for the Panthers during the preseason, the team hasn’t spent much time working on late-game situations and it showed against Red Lion.

Red Lion vs. Central York during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Central York would win the game 78-75. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Panthers hit all 10 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, but struggled to inbound the ball and decide whether to continue their fast-paced offense, which led to the team's 3-0 start, or slow down the game and work the clock.

With 48 seconds left in the game, Central led by eight. After a turnover, Red Lion senior AJ Virata drilled a clutch 3-pointer for three of his 22 points. The Panthers eventually inbounded the ball after a timeout and Hubbs dribbled the final seconds off the clock for the win.

Red Lion's AJ Virata, left, takes the ball to the basket while Central York's Nolan Hubbs defends during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Central York would win the game 78-75. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Hubbs scored 14 points while he ran the Panthers’ offense, but had to deal with foul trouble in the first half. He sat out most of the second quarter, when Central scored only 10 points and lost its early lead.

York-Adams League 2021 boys basketball stats and standings

Lions put up strong fight: Red Lion did a good job of denying Central a path to easy, quick shots by getting back on defense. The Lions also benefited from a strong game from Virata, who handled the Panthers’ press and found teammates, such as junior Tugg Wellsandt, who had 17 points with five 3-pointers.

“They are an outstanding scoring team,” Hoke said of Red Lion. “I knew they were a very good defensive team, but they are a good scoring team (too).”

Red Lion entered the game with the league's top-scoring defense, allowing just 36.2 points per game.

Red Lion's Davante Dennis aims for the basket while Central York defends during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Central York would win the game 78-75. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Lions star excels despite foul woes: Red Lion standout Davante Dennis had 16 points in the first half for Red Lion, but picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter. When he exited the game, Central York went on a 10-0 run to take the lead and didn’t look back. Dennis finished with 23 points.

Leading the Panthers’ third-quarter surge was Kai’Ryn Brown. The senior picked up eight of his team-high 23 points in the period, including a buzzer-beating shot off a rebound. Junior Jacobi Baker hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as part of a 20-point performance. Freshman Greg Guidinger closed out the win with four clutch free throws and finished with 12 points.

Red Lion vs. Central York during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Central York would win the game 78-75. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It took four games, but the Panthers were faced their first test and passed it. Hubbs and Brown are used to battling out games in the final minutes for Y-A D-I wins, but the younger players, such as Baker and Guidinger, who have stepped up with seniors Judah Tomb and Taylor Wright-Rawls out with injuries, are learning what it takes to win as they go.

Although it may have seemed like the world was ending at halftime as the Panthers found themselves losing, Hubbs believes it will only make them better as the season goes on.

Central York's Nolan Hubbs, left, works to get the ball around Red Lion's AJ Virata during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Central York would win the game 78-75. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“This year we knew we were going to have some close games. I mean, you can’t roll over every team, so it feels good to get out with the win, but it’s good for our team to have to fight until the last second because that will teach us a lot going forward,” Hubbs said.

Red Lion suffered it first loss of the season to drop to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in D-I.

OTHER BOYS’ BASKETBALL

York Suburban 64, West York 53: At Suburban, the Trojans remained perfect on the season, moving to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in Y-A D-II. Camden Brewer (18 points), Aidan Hughley (17 points) and Harry Kelly (11 points) powered Suburban. Hughley needs just eight points to reach 1,000 for his career. Ty Nalls’ 18 points led West York, which fell to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in D-II.

Northeastern 69, Dallastown 57: At Manchester, Karron Mallory (20), Jackson Burnham (17) and Kaden Hamilton (11) powered Northeastern to victory. The Bobcats used a 24-14 fourth-quarter surge to pull away for the win. Michael Dickson’s 23 points led Dallastown, while Kurt Dallmyer added 11.

Susquehannock 74, Eastern York 56: At Glen Rock, Jalen Franklin’s 22 points sparked the Warriors. Dan Benna (14), Ezra Davis (11) and Ricky Ferguson (10) also reached double digures for Susquehannock. Micah Myers (23 points) and Austin Bausman (13) led Eastern.

Hanover 47, York Catholic 43: At Hanover, the Nighthawks won the battle of Y-A D-III unbeatens. Hanover improved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the division. YC fell to 3-1 both overall and in the division. Hanover fell behind 14-7 after one quarter, but used a 32-16 edge over the middle two quarters to take the lead and then held on despite YC’s 13-8 fourth-quarter edge. Hanover’s scoring leaders were Kyle Garman (12), Zyaire Myers (11) and Michael Killinger (10). Luke Forjan (22) and John Forjan (18) combined for 40 of YC’s 43 points.

Bermudian Springs 49, Biglerville 37: At Biglerville, Ethan Beachy poured in 20 points to help Bermudian improve to 5-1. Connor Shaw added 12 points. Drew Parker paced Biglerville with 18 points, while Eli Weigle added 13.

New Oxford 64, York High 57: At New Oxford, Connor Jenkins poured in 21 points to carry the Colonials to the Y-A D-I victory. Braden Carver added 18 points for New Oxford, while Aden Strausbaugh chipped in 10. Saumir SeShields (12), Antoine Beard (11) and Rashim Lee (10) each hit double digits for York High.

Manheim Central 63, Kennard-Dale 37: At Manheim, Koy Swanson’s nine points led K-D in the nonleague setback.

York-Adams League 2021 girls basketball stats and standings

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Eastern York 63, Susquehannock 39: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights improved to 5-0 on the season, led by Breana Grim’s 22 points and Mara Weaver’s 11 points. Tyler Elliott (14) and Kelsey Gemmill (13) combined for 27 points for Susquehannock.

York Suburban 53, West York 38: At West York, the Trojans triumphed to improve to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in Y-A D-II. West York fell to 3-2 both overall and in the division. Brooke Sargen (15), Maddison Perring (13) and Alyssa Dougherty (13) each hit double digits for Suburban.

Dallastown 54, Northeastern 27: At Dallastown, D’Shantae Edwards (15) and Olivia Stein (14) combined for 29 of Dallastown’s points. Jordyn Jennings’ 13 points led Northeastern. Dallastown improved to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in Y-A D-I.

Bermudian Springs 62, Biglerville 20: At York Springs, Lillian Peters scored 15 points, including 14 in the first half, to lead the Eagles (5-1). Hannah Chenault added 14 points, all in the first half. Avery Bentzel and Bailey Oehmig added 10 points apiece for the winners.

Gettysburg 55, New Oxford 36: At Gettysburg, Anne Bair’s 17 points helped keep Gettysburg undefeated. Camryn Felix and Skye Shepherd each added 12 points for the Warriors (7-0).

Fairfield 48, Littlestown 40: At Littlestown, Maddie Neiderer (20) and Breana Valentine (18) combined for 38 of Fairfield’s 48 points. Kylah Green’s 16 points paced Littlestown.

Christian School of York 49, New Covenant 27: Ellen Brown’s career-high 18 points and Emma Bell’s double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) sparked CSY. Brown had six 3-pointers. CSY's Kayleigh Rhine added eight points, six assists and five steals.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.