The Central York girls' basketball team fell in the District 3 Class 6-A Championship game, 37-26, to Central Dauphin on Feb. 28 at Hershey's Giant Center. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
HERSHEY — There have been a lot of highlights during the Central York girls' basketball season.
From sharing the York-Adams League Division I title to capturing the league tournament championship, the Panthers have created a lot of good memories this year.
Wednesday at the Giant Center in the District 3 Class 6-A title game against Central Dauphin, they made another memory.
Only this was not one the York-Adams League champs will like to remember.
Foul trouble and shooting woes both caught up to Central York and the Panthers saw their dreams of a district title dashed by the Rams, 37-26.
“We knew that Central Dauphin played a very physical game, so we knew we were going to have to be very strong with the ball," Central York coach Scott Wisner said. "I just don’t think we did a good job of handling it. We were expecting to get some calls we didn’t get, and just didn't react to it very well. But still, to only be down by three at halftime, we still felt like we had a shot.”
Throughout the district playoffs thus far, the third-seeded Panthers (22-5) have dealt with foul trouble against their biggest standouts, Nikson Valencik and Teirra Preston. Never, however, did they have to figure out how to handle it when both got into trouble.
That's what happened in the third quarter when both Preston and Valencik picked up their fourth fouls. Then, after re-entering to start the fourth quarter, Valencik was quickly whistled for her final foul.
Fouls, however, were only half of the story. The Panthers were limited to just one point in the second quarter. That was part of an eight-point first half in which they converted on just 2 of 16 shots.
Central was able to stick around in large part thanks to its defense. While the Panthers weren't tearing it up offensively, neither were the fourth-seeded Rams (17-5). The difference, however, was that CD was able to make free throws. The Rams converted on 12 of 19, while the Panthers made just 6 of 15.
“I felt like we got really tentative when things didn’t go well early," Wisner said. "We got some good looks early, we didn’t make free throws. Then our body language got really poor, we got really tentative. And again to only be down three (11-8 at halftime), I thought if we started the second half strong we’d have a shot, but unfortunately it didn’t go much better.”
Sarah Sepic led Central with 11 points while Valencik chipped in seven before fouling out. Preston was limited to one point.
While the disappointment of losing a district final, especially in the manner they, is disheartening, the Panthers will at least get a chance to rebound when the PIAA tournament begins next week.
“Hopefully we can learn from the physical nature of this, because that’s what were going to see,” Wisner said. “And hopefully we can be a little bit stronger and be a little more controlled and poised with the ball and we can use that as we head into states."
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.