It seems that whatever the New Oxford girls’ basketball team throws at Central York, the Panthers have an answer for it.
It happened during both regular-season games between the two York-Adams League Division I powers. Central won them both by at least 25 points.
It happened again during the York-Adams League playoff championship contest Thursday evening at York College.
In the first meeting between the two teams, the Colonials responded with an 8-0 run to pull even after a period. But a 19-2 blitz by the Panthers to end the first half essentially put that contest away.
History nearly repeated itself with a championship on the line. Trailing late in the first period by a point, Central York responded with an 8-0 run to end the quarter. The Division I champs proceeded to score the first six points of the second period to push the lead to double digits.
While the Colonials made a handful of attempts at a comeback, the Panthers always had the answer. By the time the final horn sounded, coach Scott Wisner and his team were celebrating a convincing 65-50 triumph and a league crown.
Beating the zone: The league title was the second one in program history for the Panthers and Wisner, who coached the team to a league title back in 1999. It also helped erase the bitter memory of a last-second loss in the finals to Red Lion on the same court a season ago.
“That’s just a great team,” New Oxford coach James Kunkle said. “They were finishing and executing. Credit to them … they’re a great team. We tried something different coming out in a zone and we don’t really do zone, but they caught fire.”
Struggling in the first half in their previous two league playoff contests against a zone, the Panthers expected to see a zone from New Oxford. But while the 2-3 zone was effective by Dover and York Catholic in the previous contests, the Panthers blew the lid off of it Thursday with the help of the 3-pointer.
Central knocked down seven 3-pointers in the first half, including a trio by guard Sarah Sepic, to help them build a 32-17 lead by the intermission.
“I was just in the flow of it,” Sepic said of her barrage from beyond the arc. “Once I got in the rhythm I just kept it going.”
Sepic wasn’t alone, however. Nikson Valencik and Emma Saxton each knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.
“We suspected that they would come out in a 2-3,” said Wisner, whose team improved to 23-2. “So we ran a couple of different sets. But, regardless of what you run, when the kids make shots like that it’s obviously going to have a big effect.”
Saxton definitely felt it, for one.
“When we’re playing against a zone, we’re either killing it or not killing it,” she said. “And I think a lot of it has to do with whether we’re making our shots or not. And I think tonight we felt comfortable and we were hitting the shots.”
Big night for Saxton: While the Colonials (19-6) were able to limit the Panthers to just one 3-pointer in the second half, they had no such luck containing Saxton. The senior guard finished with a game-high 25 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
“She’s the top player in the league all-around,” Kunkle said of the Bloomsburg recruit. “She does everything. She penetrates, she kicks, she shoots the 3’s, she rebounds … she makes everyone look good out there. She’s a great player.”
Like she usually does, Saxton had a lot of help. Valencik poured in 17 points while Teirra Preston finished with 12 points for the Panthers.
With the help of Kaelyn Long (20 points) and Haley Luckabaugh (10 points), the Colonials were able to pull within 56-46 with 3:27 left. But a 5-0 run by Wisner’s club essentially put the game away.
That comfortable cushion certainly made life easier on Wisner’s stomach. A season ago his team held a precarious lead in the final minute only to see it snatched away at the end. This year there was no need to worry.
“Yeah, last year we had some unfinished business,” he said. “I felt like we had it right down to the last play. So it was great to come back this year and finish the deal.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.