In the regular-season meetings, the point differential was a combined five points — two in one game and three in the other, and that one went to overtime.
So it wasn't a surprise that the District 3 Class 4-A girls' basketball game between York Suburban and Eastern went down to the wire.
For the third time this year, the two played a thriller before the Trojans prevailed 43-40 Tuesday night thanks to two clutch free throws by Ali Reinecker. The victory sends the No. 10- seed Trojans (14-9) into the quarterfinals Friday night at No 2 seed Berks Catholic (19-4). The win also clinched a state playoff berth for Suburban.
For No. 10 seed Eastern (11-12) and its standout senior Hannah Myers, the Golden Knights' season comes to an end.
Reinecker, who finished with 19 points, sank two clutch free throws with 20 seconds left to give Suburban a 43-40 edge, then the Trojans had to survive a wild closing segment where Eastern got possession with just under one second remaining, but the Golden Knights couldn't get a shot off.
"I was confident going to the line," Reinecker. said. "We had been practicing for two weeks and I felt good. I thought I was going to make them."
Shortly after Reinecker's free throws, Suburban sophomore Alyssa Hocker got possession of a loose ball at Eastern's end and alertly called timeout as players from both sides tried to force a jump ball.
"That was a big play there," Suburban coach Jess Barley said. "She's only a sophomore but that was a smart play to know how many timeouts we had left and how important that possession was.
"As for Ali, that's who we want to have the ball. She did her job making the free throws and that was Ali being Ali."
Myers excels for Eastern: The loss overshadowed another outstanding effort from Myers, who finished with 20 points before fouling out in the final minute. Myers had 16 second-half points to fuel the Knights' comeback after falling behind early. However, Eastern was hindered at the line, making just 4 of 16, including 2 of 12 in the second half.
It appeared Suburban might have the game in hand when it took a 39-31 edge on a basket by Reinecker with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left. A barrage of 3-pointers, however, got Eastern back in the hunt. Morgan Winter's 3-pointer in the closing minute brought Eastern within 41-40.
"Give them credit," Barley said. "They made a lot of long-range threes and you just can't say enough about Hannah Myers. She's a great player and a hard worker, and we knew she would get her points."
Suburban starts strong: Early on, Suburban played a zone (unlike the man-to-man defense it used in the earlier meetings) and the move paid off. The Trojans jumped out to a 15-5 edge. Keying the early run was senior Briaunna Embry-Banks, who had five first-quarter points before being saddled with foul trouble.
"We wanted to contain Myers from the perimeter, but we wanted to control the other players, too," Barley said. "They're just a solid group but I thought our girls followed the game plan well and Briaunna stepped up tonight. She was a real presence in the middle of the zone and her length deters people from driving on her.
"We have a next-man up philosophy and it showed tonight because when Kennedy (McKee, who fouled out) went out, we had trouble with their traps and press in the second half, but we came though when we had to."
Suburban extended its first-half lead to 23-8 before Eastern closed the gap to 25-14 at halftime. Eastern got within three in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Myers before the Trojans extended the lead to 39-31 before the thrilling ending.
Berks Catholic next: Now, the Trojans face a difficult challenge in Berks Catholic — a team they lost to in a PIAA game last year.
"We didn't play well in that game, but they're a strong team with a D-I player who is going to Rider," Barley said. "I'm anxious to get to the drawing board and see what we can do against them."
York Catholic 64, Middletown 48: At York Catholic, the Irish earned another meeting vs. rival Delone Catholic.
The third-seeded Irish rebounded from a slow start to beat sixth-seeded Middletown in a District 3 Class 3-A first-round game. That victory advanced the Irish to a semifinal contest against second-seeded Delone Catholic (20-4) at 6 p.m. Friday at West York. The winner of that game will sew up a PIAA state playoff berth.
Delone and York Catholic split their regular-season meetings and shared the York-Adams Division III crown.
York Catholic improved to 12-12. Middletown finished at 9-14.
Abby Pilkey poured in 26 points to pace the Irish. Jania Wright added 12 and Teslyn Sterner chipped in 10.
York Catholic trailed 27-25 at halftime, but stormed back in the second half to outscore Middletown, 39-21.
Solanco 52, West York 47: At Solanco, a late West York rally fell short in a District 3 Class 5-A first-round loss.
The 10th-seeded Bulldogs saw their season come to a close at 13-10. No. 7 seed Solanco improved to 16-8.
Makennah Hoffman pumped in 23 points in a losing cause, while Alayna Harris added 13.
West York trailed 34-23 at halftime, but couldn't complete the rally, despite outscoring Solanco in the second half, 24-18.
Lampeter-Strasburg 62, Dover 50: At Lampeter-Strasburg, Dover's season concluded with a District 3 Class 5-A first-round setback.
The 13th-seeded Eagles finished at 13-11. No. 4 seed L-S improved to 21-3.
Rajah Fink, the leading scorer in the York-Adams League, finished her standout Dover career with a 30-point effort.
Harrisburg 59, South Western 42: At Harrisburg, South Western's season ended with a District 3 Class 5-A first-round loss.
The 15th-seeded Mustangs finished at 11-11. No. 2 seed Harrisburg improved to 19-4.
Pequea Valley 69, Hanover 18: At Pequea Valley, the fifth-seeded Hawkettes were no match for No. 5 seed PV in a District 3 Class 3-A first-round contest.
Hanover's season closes with a 15-9 mark. PV improves to 13-10.
Avery Martz led Hanover with eight points.
Reach George Hammond at email@example.com.