RED LION — There's no question that life for the Central York girls’ basketball team has been a little hectic this past week.
A threat investigation closed the school Wednesday, Feb. 21, and Thursday Feb. 22, and will close the school again on Friday, Feb. 23. That forced the girls to miss a practice Tuesday. They were able to finally prepare for Thursday’s District 3 Class 6-A quarterfinal against Cedar Cliff with a Wednesday workout at the Manchester Township community building.
To top it off, with the school being closed, Thursday’s contest was moved from Central York High School to Red Lion High School.
Despite all of the off-the-court drama surrounding the high school and the community, the Panther girls refused to let it bother them. They just went out against the No. 6 seeded Colts and took care of business, as usual.
Led by 10-point performances by Sarah Sepic and Nikson Valencik, Central defeated Cedar Cliff, 43-35, to claim a spot in district semifinal Monday, Feb. 26. The third-seeded Panthers (21-4) will face No. 2 seeded Elizabethtown (19-6), a 38-28 winner over Penn Manor on Thursday, at 4 p.m. Monday at the Giant Center.
“It kind of felt a little bit like it was our home court,” Central coach Scott Wisner said. “Like it was supposed to be.”
Playing their first game since winning the York-Adams League title, Wisner’s crew got off to a quick start to set the tone. Teirra Preston (nine points) scored on the team’s first possession to help the Panthers storm to a 10-1 advantage with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
Foul issues: While Central got off to a strong start, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. A big discrepancy in foul calls hampered the Panthers in the first half, including a trio of calls that went against Valencik.
With Valencik sitting on the bench for nearly half of the contest, Wisner’s crew demonstrated their depth, with players such as Sepic stepping up to fill the void.
“It is frustrating to get into foul trouble, especially early in the game,” Valencik said. “But we have a lot people on our bench that can step up and score and play defense whenever they’re needed.”
Preston, too, was handcuffed by the whistle Thursday. The senior, who is the team’s top inside post presence defensively, picked up her fifth foul late in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for Valencik and Preston, the Central defense was stout enough to withstand their foul issues. Wisner elected to remain with his man-to-man defensive approach, eschewing a possible zone that could benefit Cedar Cliff’s bevy of outside shooters.
“They have three or four kids that have 17 or more (3-pointers),” Wisner said. “I just didn’t want to give them the opportunity to get some life at that point because we were shutting them down.”
Rachel Reilly, who led all players with a game-high 15 points, was the only Colts player to finish with more than five points.
Now the Panthers can set their focus on an Elizabethtown team that is a bit of a newcomer to the 6-A draw. Wisner’s squad has now made districts three years in a row, while Elizabethtown is making its first appearance in the bracket since 2012.
“Hopefully we can draw on our experience Monday, having played at the Giant Center last year,” Wisner said. “There’s not going to be hardly anyone there (for a late-afternoon game) so it’s going to be an odd atmosphere.”
Wisner quickly pieced together a common thread from this week with his last statement, when he added: “We’ve been dealing with some odd circumstances here, so I think I can count on my kids to step up and do it.”
OTHER DISTRICT 3
Central Dauphin 43, Dallastown 28: at Central Dauphin, the Wildcats dropped a District 3 Class 6-A quarterfinal contest.
No. 5 seed Dallastown fell to 19-8. No. 4 seed Central Dauphin improved to 15-5.
The Wildcats will now face No. 1 seed Manheim Twp. (18-6) at 6 p.m. Monday in a consolation contest at Cumberland Valley High School. Manheim Twp. was upset by No. 8 seed Wilson on Thursday, 55-47.
Dallastown beat Manheim Twp. earlier this season, 53-50.
Aniya Matthews had 14 points Thursday to lead Dallastown.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.