HEISER: Central York girls' coach not giving up yet on best season in program history
- The PIAA basketball playoffs have been put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Central York girls' team had reached the Class 6-A quarterfinals.
- Central coach Scott Wisner is still hoping the state playoffs will be resumed.
Scott Wisner is not ready to give up hope just yet.
The Central York girls’ basketball coach knows the chances are slim, at best, but he’s still not ready to give up on the best season in program history.
So, Wisner “appreciated” the PIAA’s inaction on Monday during its board of directors meeting.
At that meeting, held by conference call, the state’s governing body of high school athletics opted not to issue any definitive statement about the future of the PIAA basketball championships.
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For now, the state championships remain on hold, just as they’ve been for nearly three weeks now.
At this point, no news is good news, and that’s probably the best news that Wisner and his team could have hoped for. They still haven’t heard the word they’ve dreaded since the coronavirus pandemic reached Pennsylvania. They still haven’t heard the word “canceled.”
As long the PIAA gives the Central girls a sliver of hope, they won’t give up hope.
Enjoying special season: That’s because the Panthers (23-5) have gone where no Central girls’ basketball team has gone before — the state quarterfinals. They are just three wins away from claiming a Class 6-A state championship. They’re also the only York County basketball team still left standing.
“We would love to get a decision that says yes,” Wisner said. “Everybody else feels the same way. I’ve talked to (Delone Catholic coach) Gerry Eckenrode a couple of times, but it’s a little more commonplace for them. (Eckenrode has won four state titles at Delone). This is our first time (in the state quarterfinals). It’s frustrating, but we keep holding out hope.”
District 3 runner-up Central has already earned a pair of two-point state wins, so it would be easy to start thinking that the Panthers might be a team of destiny, especially if you few things through orange-and-black-tinted glasses.
If you asked folks around the state who follow girls’ basketball, however, you’d most likely get a different outlook. To those folks, Central would likely be considered an underdog to win their next scheduled game (vs. District 11 runner-up Freedom High from Bethlehem) and a major underdog to win the three straight games necessary to claim a state crown.
Just want a chance: To Wisner and the Central girls, however, none of that matters. They just want an opportunity to prove themselves on the court.
Will they get it?
It’s highly doubtful.
Most experts believe the worst of the pandemic is yet to come. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf closed the state’s schools indefinitely on Monday. Tuesday marks three weeks since the Central girls last played a game.
Wisner knows the odds better than anyone, saying he’s “skeptical, but hopeful” that the state playoffs will resume, but as each day passes without a decision, Wisner admits the chances of resumption get “slimmer and slimmer.”
Two weeks needed: If the outbreak eases enough to allow games, Wisner believes the PIAA would need just two weeks to complete the tournament — one week of practice preparation and one week to play the three games needed to crown a state champion.
Wisner wouldn’t even mind if the playoff games were played in front of limited fans or even no fans.
“I would still relish the opportunity, no matter what,” he said.
Wisner said the Central girls were obviously disappointed and frustrated when the state playoffs were suspended, but they also understood the necessity of the PIAA decision.
Keeping in contact: Since then, he’s been checking in with them and encouraging them to stay in shape and practice their individual skills so they’ll be as ready as possible in the unlikely event that the playoffs are resumed.
Still, he knows individual workouts are no substitute for team practices. The only silver lining is that every other team in the state playoffs will be in the same boat.
“The girls are reacting well,” Wisner said. “They know it’s out of our control. We’re just moving forward the best we can.”
And holding onto to hope, no matter how remote.
Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.