DALLASTOWN — To say that Central York girls' basketball head coach Scott Wisner is getting tired of slow starts by his team in this year’s York-Adams League playoffs would be an understatement.
Fortunately for Wisner, his club has been far better at finishing than starting.
Tuesday night in the league semifinals at Dallastown High School, the Panthers were giving their coach another severe case of heartburn over the first two quarters. Thanks to a pair of early fouls against post players Nikson Valencik and Teirra Preston, Central had trouble getting on track against a game York Catholic squad.
That was eerily similar to Friday’s first-round contest against Dover, when the Panthers scored just 16 points in the first half.
Jjust like Friday, however, the Division I champions made up for it and more over the final 16 minutes on Tuesday.
Trailing by as many as seven points early in the third period, the Panthers got things going in a hurry. Led by a trio of 3-pointers from guard Sarah Sepic, Wisner’s club outscored the Irish 22-10 in the third period. There was little the Division III champs could do to slow down Central after that, and the Panthers cruised to a 55-40 triumph.
Central York (23-2) will face rival New Oxford (19-5) for the league title at 7 p.m. Thursday at York College. The Panthers soundly defeated the Colonials by 29- and 25-point margins in their two regular-season meetings this year, but Thursday's clash figures to be tighter.
“Tonight I thought that York Catholic came out with a lot of energy,” Wisner said. “They really came out strong. And we did some of the same stuff (as Friday).”
Wisner was talking about his team’s penchant to rush shots against a zone defense. The Panthers did it Friday and found themselves down at the half against Dover. Tuesday was a similar refrain.
“We have players that are capable of making shots,” he said. “But we were just so quick that we didn’t allow ourselves to get into the feel of the game.”
Foul woes: Part of that can be attributed to a sound defensive game plan by the Irish. Losing Preston and Valencik to foul trouble in the first half didn’t help either. Those two average nearly 26 points a game.
With both back on the court in the third quarter, the Panthers turned things around. Valencik was held scoreless in the first half, but the junior quickly scored five points to help erase the seven-point advantage that York Catholic had built.
“We played a good quarter with neither of them,” Wisner said. “And Nikson played probably just four minutes. But then you saw what she did in the first couple minutes of the second half.”
Valencik finished with 11 points while Preston tallied eight.
Fortunately for Wisner, when his team does have foul issues, he has a couple other capable scorers. Emma Saxton, a Bloomsburg recruit, finished with a team-high 18 points, while Sepic scored 11 of her 14 points in the second half.
As well as things went for the Irish in the first half, when they built a 23-18 edge at the break, things flip-flopped in the second half. York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos realized, however, that much of that had to do with the play of the Panthers.
“They’re the best team in the league for a reason,” said Bankos, who knows a thing for two about those things.
Kate Bauhof led the Irish (18-6) with 18 points. The junior standout was the only Irish player to reach double figures in scoring Tuesday. Jania Wright finished with nine points, while Abby Pilkey tallied seven.
Tickets: Central will hold hold an advance ticket sale for the league title game. Tickets will be on sale on Wednesday and Thursday from 10:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the high school atrium. Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $4 for students.