Girls' teams set to start league basketball title chase

  • The York-Adams League girls' basketball playoffs start Friday.
  • Quarterfinal doubleheaders are set for Dover and Dallastown.
  • The playoffs appears open, but Central York is likely considered the favorite.

It's been an exciting York-Adams League girls’ basketball season so far.

All three divisional races came down to the final week and several players eclipsed the 1,000-point career milestone.

Nikson Valencik leads Central York in scoring at 15.2 points per game. The Panthers are likely considered by most to be the favorite to win the York-Adams League girls' basketball title.

It figures to get even more dramatic now that the playoffs are upon us.

Welcome to the York-Adams League Tournament, where any of the eight teams that qualified can realistically make a case for why they can win it all. The champion will have to survive a gauntlet of three grueling games within a week to earn the crown next Thursday at York College.

Perhaps the favorite right now is last year’s runner-up, Central York. The Panthers (20-2) often dominated throughout their run to the program’s first Division I title since the 1998-99 season. They own double-digit triumphs over several of the league’s top teams already (Susquehannock, New Oxford, Eastern York and Dallastown). And they boast arguably the league’s top overall player in Bloomsburg University recruit Emma Saxton, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career last Friday against Spring Grove. She's averaging 14.7 points per game. Nikson Valencik leads Central in scoring at 15.2 ppg

“Of all the teams that we’ve played so far, I think she’s the best player I’ve seen,” Eastern York coach Brad Weaver said of Saxton after his team fell to Central, 95-60, back on Jan. 16. “It’s just how smart she plays.”

Central is also the top-scoring team in the league at 61.1 points a game. Defensively the Panthers are holding opponents to a stingy 36.0 points a night, which is fifth-best in the circuit.

Central coach Scott Wisner likely won’t let his talented squad forget about what happened last year, either. The Panthers were oh-so-close to a championship before Courtney Dimoff and her Red Lion teammates prevailed in thrilling fashion, 35-34.

The first hurdle in Central’s path is Dover (17-5). The two teams will square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dallastown.

The Eagles made a dramatic turnaround this season under the guidance of first-year head coach Kevin Glover. After winning just five games last year, Dover made its mark with key victories against Eastern York, West York and York Catholic this season.

The Eagles also boast the league’s No. 1 scorer in junior Rajah Fink, who is averaging 18.9 ppg. Fink is also closing in on the 1,000-point mark. She sits at 918 for her career.

Injuries late in the season to fellow starters Rayah Fink (shoulder) and Sierra Woodyard (head) led to a rough stretch in which the Eagles dropped four of eight. Rayah Fink has since returned to the lineup while Woodyard’s status remains unclear.

Susquehannock vs. New Oxford: Another first-round pairing Friday evening pits Division II champion Susquehannock (19-3) against New Oxford (17-5) at 7:30 p.m. at Dover.

In many ways, this showdown would make for a fitting title contest. The Warriors currently hold the No. 2 spot in the District 3 Class 5-A power ratings, with the Colonials one spot behind them.

Both teams are experienced with proven senior leaders who can score from inside the paint. Susquehannock senior Tyler Williams pours in 14.1 points a game while New Oxford senior Kaelyn Long, who passed the 1,000-point mark last month, averages 15.4 points a contest.

Tyler Williams (right) and Susquehannock enter as the No. 2 seed in the girls' District 3 5-A tournament. A total of four Y-A League teams made the 16-team field in the class.

Hitting shots outside the paint is no problem for either side. The Warriors knocked down 89 3-pointers this season, 36 of which came via sophomore Jayla Galbreath. The Colonials converted on 74 attempts from distance, including 26 from guard Haley Still.

Dallastown vs. Delone Catholic: Dallastown (12-10) pulled off upsets against both the Panthers and Colonials down the stretch to clip New Oxford for the No. 2 spot in the Division I standings.

As a result Dallastown will battle Delone Catholic (17-5) at 6 p.m. Friday at Dover.

The Wildcats are perhaps the most intriguing and mystifying of the eight teams. Offensively and defensively they are about in the middle of the league pack, which is often the hallmark of a mediocre team.

In reality, it's the hallmark of a battle-tested crew. Coach Jay Rexroth’s club played arguably the toughest schedule possible in all of District 3. All 10 of Dallastown's losses have come against teams that will play in the District 3 tournament later this month. Julia Sutton's 11.9 ppg leads Dallastown.

Don’t forget about those three signature victories — those two against Central and New Oxford, as well as one early in the season against Susquehannock.

Delone has quietly built an impressive resume. The Squirettes are ranked No. 2 in the league both offensively (56.4 ppg) and defensively (32.3 ppg). They’ve accomplished all of that without the services of senior leader Jill Novak, a Millersville University recruit who tore her ACL back in December.

Bradi Zumbrum, a 6-foot, 1-inch sophomore, has emerged as Delone's leader, averaging 10.9 ppg.

York Catholic vs. Eastern York: The last pairing — Division III champion York Catholic (17-5) against Eastern York (14-8) — is a rematch of a contest played just two weeks ago. The Irish earned a 74-56 victory then, but the game was somewhat closer than the final margin indicates.

The Knights enter the playoffs a little banged up. Coach Weaver’s club, which dropped its final three contests, doesn’t want to enter the district playoffs on a four-game skid. They’re hoping that a week of rest since falling to Dover last Friday will do them wonders.

The Irish are always a threat behind the scoring prowess of Kate Bauhof, who passed the 1,000-point mark earlier this season. The junior is third in the league in scoring at 18.0 points a contest. She also leads the league in 3-pointers made (45) and free-throw percentage (88.3 percent).

Hannah Myers powers Eastern at 17.3 ppg.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at