After an exciting Friday of girls’ basketball action in the first round of the York-Adams League playoffs, it would only be fitting for Tuesday’s semifinal showdowns to match or exceed that level.
Then again, there’s a chance they might not.
With double-digit victories Friday, both Division I champion Central York (21-2) and New Oxford (18-5) seem the likely favorites to square off for a third time in Thursday’s title contest.
The Panthers had some early first-half issues against Dover, when they tallied just 16 points, but coach Scott Wisner’s team regained the form that earned them 20 victories in 22 tries after the intermission. Central put up 40 points in the second half en route to a 56-40 triumph.
Nikson Valencik, the team’s leading scorer this season, poured in a game-high 18 points while Teirra Preston (16) and Emma Saxton (14) also reached double figures. Those three are big reasons why the Panthers lead the league in scoring at 60.9 points a game. Throw in guard Sarah Sepic and her outside shooting and Wisner’s crew is a tough bunch to take down.
Central will square off in one semifinal Tuesday against Division III champ York Catholic (18-5) at 7:30 p.m. at Dallastown High School. York Catholic downed Eastern York in its first-round battle on Friday, 68-54.
While the Irish and coach Kevin Bankos are no strangers to the league playoffs, this year’s team is still searching for its identity. Besides standout Kate Bauhof, the Irish have struggled to find solid No. 2 and 3 scorers behind their do-everything wonder guard. Jania Wright, Gina Citrone and Abby Pilkey are all capable of filling those slots, but the consistency has been a bit off at times.
Bankos, however, seems to know how to get his players to step it up come playoff time. Numerous times over its 10-year reign as District 3 Class 2-A champion, York Catholic has found a role player find that next level. Could Tuesday be the night that it happens again?
New Oxford routed Delone in previous meeting: Friday night, New Oxford performed like the team that a lot of fans anticipated would be right there in the Division I race with the Panthers this season. The Colonials overcame a bit of a slow start to take down Division II champ Susquehannock, 54-40, behind an impressive 27-point, 12-rebound performance by senior Kaelyn Long.
Coach James Kunkle’s team is certainly looking forward to getting one more crack at the Panthers this season. In both regular-season showdowns, however, Central put it to the Colonials, winning by 29 and 25 points.
Those losses, mixed in with a 12-point setback against Dallastown in late January, pushed New Oxford all the way down to the No. 3 spot in the division standings behind the Panthers and Wildcats. That was nowhere near where Kunkle’s group figured it would finish after starting the year at 7-0 record.
The good news is that the Colonials avoided being on the same side of the bracket as the Panthers. Instead, they will face a Delone Catholic (18-5) team that they downed 66-47 back in mid-January. That semifinal showdown is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Dallastown.
The Squirettes have been hampered by both injuries — to senior forward Jill Novak and guard Riley Vingsen — and inconsistent guard play this season. Both Novak and Vingsen went down with ACL injuries. For Novak, it was the second year in a row that the Millersville recruit saw her season end prematurely.
Vingsen, a sophomore, was injured before the season started. She averaged 7.2 points a game as a freshman a year ago. She was expected to help lead the team as a reliable point guard, an area in which the team has struggled in their five setbacks.
Delone has overcome those troubles with strong post play. The trio of Catherine Apgar, Maddie Clabaugh and Bradi Zumbrum have all stepped up since Novak’s injury back in mid-December. The Squirettes nipped Dallastown in their first-round contest on Friday, 45-44.
The work of Elise Knobloch should not go unnoticed, either. Knobloch, who averages 7.3 points a game, took over the primary ball-handling duties this season while also providing leadership on and off the court.
Previous titles: Delone Catholic and Central each own one York-Adams playoff title, with Central's coming in 1999 and Delone's coming in 2001. New Oxford has never won a Y-A playoff crown. York Catholic has captured five league playoff crowns in 1979, 1981, 2007, 2008 and 2011.
District 3 qualifiers: Not a lot changed in terms of District 3 seeds on the girls’ side.
A total of 12 York-Adams area squads qualified for districts. While the brackets will not be deemed official until Monday, here’s a breakdown of the entrants and expected first-round pairings:
Central York, No. 4, bye.
Dallastown, No. 11, at Governor Mifflin, Feb. 20.
Susquehannock, No. 2, vs. Mechanicsburg, Feb. 21.
New Oxford, No. 3, vs. Muhlenberg, Feb. 21.
Dover, No. 7, vs. Fleetwood, Feb. 21.
West York, No. 9, at Greencastle-Antrim, Feb. 21.
Eastern York, No. 5, bye.
York Suburban, No. 6, bye.
York Catholic, No. 1, bye.
Delone Catholic, No. 2, bye.
Hanover, No. 4, vs Pequea Valley, Feb. 21.
Christian School of York, No. 5, bye.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.