THURSDAY'S DISTRICT 3 GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Central York routs Harrisburg, moves to 6-A semis

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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Central York's Sarah Berman, left, drives the ball down the court while Harrisburg's Joy Pagan defends during District III, Class 6-A girls' basketball quarterfinal action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Thursday, March 4, 2021. Central York would win the game 66-41. Dawn J. Sagert photo

EMIGSVILLE — With the 2021 District 3 basketball playoffs featuring a single-elimination format, teams can't afford an off-night.

Fortunately for the Central York girls, the Panthers played perhaps their most complete game of the season Thursday night at home against Harrisburg in a District 3 Class 6-A quarterfinal.

The CY girls got off to a great start and were never really challenged. A pair of 3-pointers from senior Sarah Berman set the tone early and the Panthers earned a convincing 66-41 triumph.

Central, the No. 3 seed in the bracket, moves on to the semifinals next Tuesday at 7 p.m., when the Panthers (16-3) will get a shot at second-seeded Central Dauphin. The Rams (13-4) advanced Thursday night with a 57-30 victory over Red Lion.

“When you’re playing against a team like (Harrisburg), with their abilities, we played probably as consistently as we’ve played all year,” Central coach Scott Wisner said. “So, yeah, this was probably our best overall effort.”

The Cougars play their regular-season games in one of the toughest divisions in the state — the Mid-Penn Commonwealth. Facing Cumberland Valley (the No. 1 seed) and Central Dauphin twice each, the Harrisburg girls certainly were prepared to battle.

The Panthers, however, took control early by hitting the boards, making shots and creating havoc with their pressure defense. Berman’s second trey of the first quarter put the home team up 11-2, forcing a Harrisburg timeout. Moments into the second period, the CY girls used an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 20 (29-9).

That cushion was never seriously challenged thereafter, which allowed the two healthy senior Panthers (Berman and Georgia Panopoulos) to enjoy what may be their final home game.

“I was very satisfied,” said Panopoulos, who finished with 10 points. “We knew this was going to be a very tough game, because they like to penetrate and we did a good job keeping them out of the lane.”

The zone defense that the Panthers employed forced a number of outside shots by the Cougars. Most of those shots were missed, allowing Mackenzie Wright-Rawls (14 rebounds) and others to get rebounds and transition to offense.

The pressure trapping defense also pestered Harrisburg into a number of early miscues, which often led to transition scores.

“We knew we had to shut them down,” Panopoulos said. “And we did.”

Berman finished with a game-high 19 points while Bella Chimienti added 15 for the Panthers.

While Thursday’s win at home was satisfying, the Central girls are looking forward to another shot against CD. The Rams claimed the District 3 title a year ago with a 40-36 win against the Panthers. The two programs have also squared off two other times over the past three years, with the CD girls winning every time.

“We owe them one,” Wisner said. “But it’s going to be tough.”

Panopoulos knows what her team will have to do to be successful next Tuesday. The Rams have a terrific post player in Caroline Shiery and a standout guard in Maddie LaFrance. Those two combined for 13 points in last year’s district final.

“We have to stop the ball from getting into the post to Caroline and we have to stay out on Maddie so she can’t get easy looks,” Panopoulos said.

Wisner, however, knows that the game plan has to be more than just stopping those two.

“Central Dauphin is just really solid at every position,” he said. “That’s why it’s hard to decide how we’re going to do that (play Shiery and LaFrance). They have a lot of college recruits at every position. And they’re extremely well-coached, so we’ll have to look at where we might be able to gain an advantage and we’re probably going to have to play a pretty flawless game.”

OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Central Dauphin 57, Red Lion 30: At Central Dauphin, Lions senior Makiah Shaw reached the 1,000-point milestone in the District 3 Class 6-A quarterfinal loss. She entered the game needing 13 points to reach the milestone. She reached the 1,000-point level with a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the game and finished with 15 points. No. 7 seed Red Lion finished at 14-6. No. 2 seed Central Dauphin improved to 13-4. Caroline Shiery poured in 25 points for the Rams. 

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.