Central York girls' basketball team advances to District 3 Class 6-A championship game

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
Central York's Sarah Berman drives in the key with Central Dauphin's Izzy Vogel defending in a District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball semifinal in Harrisburg Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Central York won 32-26. Bill Kalina photo

HARRISBURG — The Central Dauphin girls’ basketball team has certainly gotten the better of Central York over the past four years.

The Rams scored a pair of District 3 Class 6-A playoff wins over the Panthers during that span, including a 40-36 triumph in last year’s title game.

Central York head coach Scott Wisner put it simply after last Thursday’s quarterfinal victory over Harrisburg: ‘We owe them.’"

The Panthers had their chance for some sweet revenge Tuesday when the Rams hosted the Panthers in a 6-A semifinal.

Central York's Bella Chimienti ties to keep control of the ball while driving against Central Dauphin's Marlie Dickerson, left, and Caroline Shiery defending in a District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball semifinal in Harrisburg Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Central York won 32-26. Bill Kalina photo

After playing perhaps their best game of the season in defeating the Cougars, the CY girls struggled against the Mid-Penn Conference power. That was the case even after standout CD forward Caroline Shiery was forced out of the game late in the first quarter with an apparent leg injury.

While it wasn’t pretty — the Panthers committed an unsightly 32 turnovers — the visitors did just enough to score a satisfying 32-26 upset. Bella Chimienti nailed a 3-pointer to break a 24-24 tie early in the fourth quarter, a shot that held up pretty much throughout the final quarter, with neither team having much luck shooting.

After the No. 2 seed Rams pulled within one with 29.2 seconds left, the No. 3 seed Panthers finished the game on a 5-0 run.

Central York's Gia Pacheo is pressured by Central Dauphin's Megan Cavoli, left, and Amelia Green in a District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball semifinal in Harrisburg Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Central York won the game 32-26. Bill Kalina photo

Tuesday’s victory, which marked the 11th in a row for Central, earns the Panthers (17-3) a berth in the District 3 6-A title game Thursday evening against host and No. 1 seed Cumberland Valley. The Eagles (19-1) advanced to the final after claiming a 54-49 triumph over No. 4 seed Governor Mifflin (17-6) Tuesday.

“I was just pleased with how gritty we were,” Wisner said. “It wasn’t pretty, but to be able to get through the tough moments and do what is necessary to move on … I’m just proud of their resilience.”

The Shiery injury: The Panthers' defense was outstanding throughout the night, but especially in the first quarter when Central pulled out to a 7-2 advantage. Shortly after that, Shiery fell to the court awkwardly, which certainly changed the complexion of the contest.

The CD forward eventually was helped off the court for medical attention before returning to sit on a table behind the CD bench with her right leg elevated.

Central York head coach Scott Wisner talks to players during a timeout against Central Dauphin in a District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball semifinal in Harrisburg Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Central York won 32-26. Bill Kalina photo

“We prepared so much for her and then a weird thing like her going down, you kind of feel bad,” Wisner said.

“We were all feeling nervous and worried for her,” Chimienti said. “We all felt bad because that’s a really scary thing to come down on your knee like that.”

Shiery did draw five fouls on the Panthers in a little less than six minutes of action, but without her presence in the paint, the Panthers were able to change to a more conventional defense.

The Rams (13-5) certainly were a different team without Shiery on the court. The hosts managed just three field goals and eight total points in the first half.

CD, which like CY missed a number of makeable shots in the first half, started to find a groove early in the second half. Trailing by 10 points, the Rams went on a 12-2 run over the first five-plus minutes of the third quarter to even the score at 20-all.

Chimienti makes key basket: After drawing even early in the fourth quarter, Chimienti (team-high 10 points) buried an open 3-pointer from the wing with six-plus minutes left in the stanza. Neither side, however, was able to find the basket down the stretch until Amelia Green made it 27-26 with 29.2 seconds left.

Pressing for a much-needed steal, the Rams instead left two Panthers open down the court, where Marley Bond converted an uncontested layin to push the advantage back to three (29-26). After a missed shot, the Panthers were able to finally ice the game at the free throw line by knocking down 3 of 4 shots.

Central York's Georgia Parapoulos passes while driving against Central Dauphin's Megan Cavoli in a District 3 Class 6-A girls' basketball semifinal in Harrisburg Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Central York won 32-26. Bill Kalina photo

“We did enough,” Wisner said. “I never expected that we would win a game by holding them to just 26 points.”

Cumberland Valley up next: Now the Panthers will have one day of practice to get ready for their second District 3 6-A title game appearance in a row. Wisner and Chimienti know that, just like Tuesday night, beating a third-consecutive Mid-Penn power won’t be easy.

“We’ve watched (film of Cumberland Valley) a lot,” Wisner said. “We played them last year in the semis (a 37-36 Central win) and it’s a lot of the same kids, with (freshman standout) Jill Jekot added in there. We know what we’re going up against and hopefully we can use what we did last year to draw on for some confidence.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.