Central York girls' late comeback in District 3 title game falls short

  • Central York lost to Central Dauphin, 40-36.
  • Central York cut the lead to two points late in the fourth quarter.
  • It was the second time Central Dauphin beat Central York this season.

HERSHEY — When Central York and Central Dauphin met on Dec. 11, the Panthers carried the lead into the final quarter with a chance to knock off the top team in District 3 Class 6-A girls’ basketball. 

The Rams dominated the final eight minutes of that game, however, and secured the win. 

In the second contest of the season between the teams, the game followed a different script. 

Central York's Bella Chimienti drives with Central Dauphin's Megan Cavoli defending during District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball final action at the Giant Center Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Central would lose the title game 40-36. Bill Kalina photo

It was Central Dauphin that jumped out to the early lead and headed into the fourth quarter with a district title eight minutes away.

Central York entered the fourth quarter on Saturday morning at the Giant Center trailing, by 10. The Panthers unleashed an 8-0 run to cut the Rams’ lead to just two.

Junior Sarah Berman hit a 3-pointer, followed by another by senior Emily Prowell. Freshman Mackenzie Wright-Rawls scooped up a rebound and her contested layup put Central Dauphin on notice that the young Panthers team wasn’t going to give up. 

But the Rams found their composure at just the right time. A layup from 6-foot, 3-inch sophomore Caroline Shiery and a pair of free throws by junior Maddie LaFrance, combined with elite defense were enough to hold on for a 40-36 win and a district title.

While his team couldn’t complete the comeback and give Central Dauphin (26-1) a taste of what it felt in December, Central York coach Scott Wisner was proud of the effort the Panthers showed.

“It definitely would’ve been nice,” Wisner said. “Central Dauphin has become the program in District 3 to try to beat, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to get over the top yet. We’re getting closer.” 

In addition to the meeting earlier this season, Central York (21-5) also dropped the district title game to Central Dauphin two years ago.

Slow start: To start the game, the Rams jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. Central Dauphin senior Audrey Weigl scored four of her game-high 16 points in the opening quarter, while the Panthers’ starting lineup which included a pair of freshmen, struggled to find its flow while the young players got their first experience at the Giant Center.

“We showed that youth and inexperience early in the game and weren’t able to finish,” Wisner said.

While their youth created some issues early in this game, Wisner said the fact that his team battled back and nearly beat the No. 1 seed in the tournament in their first game of this magnitude has him excited for next season and next week’s start to the state playoffs.

“I think it’s huge,” Wisner said. “I think every big-venue experience you get like this, when you play anywhere that’s like this you can transfer that. You can start to be able to eliminate that (pressure) and get on the court and play.”

Central York's Sarah Berman drives by Central Dauphin's Izzy Vogel during District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball final action at the Giant Center Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Central lost the title game 40-36. Bill Kalina photo

Berman led Central York with 11 points and hit three times from beyond the arc. Prowell and freshman Bella Chimienti each added seven points for the Panthers. 

Never gave up: Although the final score didn’t end up the way he hoped, Wisner had no complaints about how hard his team played in the loss. The ability to pull within two points against a team as talented as Central Dauphin showed why the Panthers ended up in the title game with a young team.

Central York coach Scott Wisner talks to his team during a timeout against Central Dauphin's Caroline Shiery during District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball final action at the Giant Center Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Central lost the title game 40-36. Bill Kalina photo

With a talented, young group learning more every time they step on the floor and a shot to make a run at some more hardware next week, Wisner could do nothing but admire his team postgame.

“I’m very proud of them,” Wisner said. “Their grit and resilience in the second half really speaks volumes about their character, and unfortunately we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but the effort was there and I can’t be happier than that.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.