New Central York boys' basketball coach upbeat despite his team's second straight loss

ROB ROSE
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Central York's Greg Guidinger, seen here in a file photo, scored 14 points on Wednesday night in the Pannthers' loss to unbeaten Reading.

What a difference 48 hours can make.

Central York High School entered Tuesday’s meeting with Northeastern at 4-0 and averaging more than 80 points per game. The Panthers appeared set to sprint to another York-Adams League Division I title.

The Bobcats, however, then beat the Panthers by 21 (66-45) and Wednesday’s showdown with unbeaten Reading wasn’t much better. Reading beat Central York, 68-50, and dropped the Panthers to 4-2.

“Our confidence is high,” first-year Central York head coach Jeff Hoke said. “I think the kids realize now, that we can play with anybody with whoever is on the court, but at the same time if we don’t play great, we can lose to anybody. I think it was humbling, but also confidence building in knowing that the hits keep coming and we just keep battling.”

For the second night in a row, Central York was without its standout senior guards. Nolan Hubbs and Taylor Wright-Rawls remained out, which left seniors Judah Tomb and Kai’Ryn Brown as the lone Panthers on the court with serious varsity experience for most of the game.

Strong first half for Panthers: Despite being shorthanded, Central York headed into halftime up 26-25. The Panthers impressed Hoke with their ability to shut down one of the top teams in District 3 without two of their top defenders.

“I loved our defensive effort,” Hoke said. “We played straight man (defense). We said, ‘We’re just going to man up and do the best we can.’ That’s the best 16 minutes of defensive basketball I have seen my teams play. They were determined to do it as a team.”

Unfortunately for Central York, there were another 16 minutes to play and the injuries and playing a second game in as many days caught up with the team. Reading (8-0) erupted for a 24-6 edge in the third quarter and ran away with the win, despite sitting their senior star Moro Osumanu because of foul trouble.  

Junior Daniel Alcantara scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter and Osumanu added 10 more in the fourth quarter for a game-high 21 points to close out the victory.

Freshman excels for Central: Central York freshman Greg Guidinger led the Panthers with 14 points and did a good job of limiting the 6-foot, 6-inch Osumanu from having a big night before he got into foul trouble.

Hoke admitted the success of his 6-foot, 5-inch freshman hasn’t been because of designed calls to get him the ball. Guidinger has done most of his scoring off rebounds. Hoke hopes that once the team can resume a normal practice schedule at the school, Guidinger’s skills will really be on display. The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously hampered Central's ability to practice at all, much less with a full team.

“Greg is outstanding and we don’t even run a play for Greg,” Hoke said. “Shame on me. We need to. We told him, ‘If we have some practices, we have three-or-four plays set up for him.’ To us, he’s not a freshman. He’s one of the best players on the court every time we step on (the court). I don’t think anyone has even seen how good Greg is because he is giving himself up for the team.”

Brown scored eight points for the Panthers and Jacobi Baker added seven. Tomb scored four points, but made a number of key defensive plays before he fouled out.

Proud of his team: Despite the past two final scores, Hoke was proud of the play by his team against Reading. One day after a disappointing performance against Northeastern, the Panthers held a halftime lead over an undefeated team projected to compete for a District 3 Class 6-A title. Once the team returns its senior stars, Hoke believes the Panthers will be back to scoring more than 80 points per game and being the team celebrating after the final buzzer.

“We haven’t lost confidence,” Hoke said. “We know we can score. Now we know we can defend. I don’t like moral victories, but when we can defend a high-powered team like that for 16 minutes, we can do it against anybody for 32 at full strength.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.