It's difficult to fathom now, in an era when York-Adams league girls' basketball teams win District 3 championships every year. In fact, at least one York-Adams team has won a district title every year since 2006. But there was a time when the league went years without a championship.
The league's longest district championship drought ran from 1993-1998. When the 1998-99 season began, no York-Adams girls' basketball teams had won a district championship since the 1992 Red Lion team. But all eyes turned to Central in 1999.
The Panthers had four Division I basketball recruits in point guard Steph Frysinger (Drexel), forward Liz Rojahn (Lafayette) and twin sisters Kim McGhee (Wagner) and Kris McGhee (St. Bonaventure). The center, Kelly Livingston — who stood only 5 foot 10 — held things together in the paint.
Central had been the No. 1 seed in the District 3 tournament in 1997-98, only to be bounced by eventual champion Wilson.
"I don't know if expectation is the right word, but they definitely had the potential," Central coach Scott Wisner recalled. "They were upset in the league championship (their junior season), and it was a little disappointing."
This was a group of basketball players Wisner had heard about when they were still in fifth and sixth grades. Although shooting guard Kris McGhee was the standout, earning a scholarship to play in the Atlantic 10, Central had something special in 1999. McGhee burst on the scene as a prolific scorer her freshman season, but by their senior year Kim McGhee had grown into a standout player, as well. Playing the swing or No. 3 position, Kim McGhee "bloomed a little later" according to Wisner. But by her senior year had become "a complete all-around player."
Central almost doubled up Red Lion in the league tournament title game, defeating the Lions, 60-34. It remains the program's lone league tournament title.
And the York-Adams drought in districts also ended.
The Panthers won their long-awaited District 3 Class AAAA title with a 46-37 victory against Cumberland Valley at Hersheypark Arena. Like the league tournament title, it's the first and only Central girls' team to win a district title. Central bowed out in the state quarterfinals, finishing the year with a 29-3 record.
Wisner has now spent 26 seasons at Central and he has served every year in some capacity as a coach. Expecting to leave coaching a few years ago, he joined the boys' program as an assistant only to return as the head coach of the girls' program a few years later. Still the 1999 team remains one of those special squads.
"The really cool thing about that team was they were like a family," Wisner said. "Those players got along so well, the seniors and juniors, it was just a great group of about 10 kids.
"They jelled so well it became like my second family."