NEW HOLLAND – Before the 2019-2020 girls’ basketball season, not many were giving the Central York girls much of a chance to excel.
They certainly weren't expected to win the York-Adams Division I title.
They certainly weren't expected to make it to the District 3 Class 6-A final.
And they definitely weren't expected to be among the state’s final eight teams in the state 6-A tournament.
The Panthers, however, believed they were better than anyone expected. They showed that en route to claiming the Division I title. They did it again to get to the Giant Center in Hershey against Central Dauphin in the district title game.
Tuesday evening at Garden Spot High School, the CY girls did it again. After needing a last-second shot to win their PIAA 6-A opener last Friday, the Panthers had to sweat out another close one in the Sweet 16 against Central Bucks East.
Leading by 11 points early in the fourth quarter, the Central girls saw the Lady Patriots rally back to within two in the final two minutes.
The Patriots had a chance to tie it, but after a miss, the District 3 runner-up got a big rebound by Georgia Panopoulos, who drove the length of the court before finding Bella Chimienti for a layin. After Emily Prowell extended the lead to six, the Patriots made it a one-possession contest twice more down the stretch.
Fortunately for CY coach Scott Wisner and his gang, the Panthers scored just enough points to earn a thrilling and satisfying 49-47 triumph and advance to the state Elite Eight.
Delone Catholic also advanced to the state quarterfinals on Tuesday in Class 3-A by dominating North Schuylkill, 62-27.
Central (23-5), meanwhile, moves on to the quarterfinal round at 6:30 p.m. Friday, when it will face District 11 runner-up (Bethlehem) Freedom (24-5), which downed District 1 champion Central Bucks West (24-4) Tuesday, 60-47. That contest will be played at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Reading High School's Geigle Complex.
“Wow is right,” Wisner said with a bit of grin after the game. “Just incredible. The kids just continue to amaze me.”
Prowell shines: The Panthers got off to a blazing start behind Prowell, who scored nine of her team-best 14 points in the first quarter.
“I felt really good,” said Prowell, an Elizabethtown College recruit. “The last couple of games I wasn’t doing much offensively, so this game I just focused on my offense and was able to hit my shots.”
Wisner noticed Prowell's offensive slump, both in the district final and in the state opener, as well. So he challenged his gifted six-foot center/forward to make her final days as a Panther memorable.
“Emily took a little bit of a back seat through the playoffs offensively,” Wisner said. “So I just told her that this is her time, it’s her senior year and she really needs to step up and be that person we saw throughout the season. And she did that.”
Berman, Chimienti also excel: Prowell’s hot start opened up some room for teammates such as Chimienti (eight points) and Sarah Berman (12 points). Berman was able to find room to bury four 3-pointers at key moments, while Chimienti was able to drive into the lane a few times for layins.
As well as the Panthers played offensively for most of the night, some lulls really created issues late in the contest. An 8-2 run by the Patriots shaved an 11-point lead down to five by the midway point of the final period.
“It was not easy on me, for sure,” Wisner said. “I’m over there (on the sideline) sweating it out and thinking about the things that we did to make it difficult on ourselves.”
Moving on: Difficult or not, the Panthers are headed to a round in the state playoffs that only one other CY team achieved in the program’s history. While that may be a big surprise for the preseason prognosticators, it’s also a bit of a surprise for players such as Prowell, as well.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “And for us to keep doing it over and over. Honestly I do not know how we do it, but we are here.”
Delone dominates: Unlike Central, the Squirettes had no problems advancing to the state quarterfinals.
The defending 3-A state champions jumped out to a 23-11 lead after one quarter and extended that edge to 45-14 at halftime. The outcome was never in doubt in the second half. Brooke Lawyer pumped in 24 points for Delone, while Makenna Mummert added 18. Lawyer had five 3-pointers.
District 3 champion Delone (26-1) will next play District 12 runner-up Imhotep Charter at 6 p.m. Friday at Gov. Mifflin Intermediate School in Shillington. Imhotep (16-13) punched its Elite Eight ticket with a 47-39 victory on Tuesday over District 2 runner-up Holy Redeemer, which finished at 21-7.
Site, time changed for Eastern York game: The site and time for Eastern York's PIAA Class 4-A Sweet 16 state playoff game have been changed.
The District 3 runner-up Golden Knights (19-8) will now face Bonner Prendergast (9-16) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Reading High School's Geigle Complex. Bonner Prendergast is the third-place team from District 12.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.