The Panthers played most of the fourth quarter with Jared Wagner on the bench
HERSHEY - Nobody on the Central York boys' basketball team was feeling very comfortable.
The Panthers were tied with Spring Grove with less than two minutes remaining in the District 3 Class AAAA semifinals, and leading scorer Jared Wagner was on the bench with four fouls. The pressure was on.
"Just hang on," senior Nathan Markey said.
"No, I wasn't comfortable," head coach Kevin Schieler added.
The Panthers managed to keep Spring Grove off the scoreboard in regulation, and Wagner hit the winning shot with three seconds remaining in overtime. The win allowed the Panthers to advance to the District 3 Class AAAA championship game Saturday at Giant Center, where they'll face Reading.
While Wagner scored 23 points, he only scored five points in the second half and overtime combined. In order for Central to secure the win, it needed production from its role players.
Courtney Batts and Evan Czulada combined for nine points in the third quarter, and Tommy O'Neill scored his only basket of the game by nailing a 3-pointer in overtime prior to Wagner's winner.
"I think Tommy O'Neill is one of our more under-credited guys, what he does on the defensive end," Schieler said. "For him to hit that big three, I'm glad for him. Same thing with Evan. He scored four big points and we needed every one of those."
Still, the Panthers aren't kidding themselves. They know how important Wagner is to their team, evidenced by the fact the only points Central York scored in the fourth quarter came on Wagner free throws.
But if you ask his teammates, Wagner's scoring ability isn't the most important aspect of his game.
"Energy," Markey said. "I've never played with a more competitive player."
"We kind of feed off of Jared's energy," Onterio Edmonds added. "If he gets hyped, the next person gets hyped, the entire bench gets hyped, the coaches get hyped and the student section gets hyped and the whole arena gets hyped. We just feed off of that."
Wagner's energy doesn't always endear him to opposing fan bases, but his teammates love it and that's what matters to him. While he admitted sitting out most of the fourth quarter was extremely difficult, he praised his teammates for keeping Central York in the game in the second half.
"We have a tremendous amount of confidence in our role players," Wagner said. "It's Courtney one night, Evan and Tommy another. It's not like I'm the only one shooting at practice. Everybody gets shots, and I'm giving them the ball as much as they give it to me."
Spring Grove (51)
Eli Brooks 8 3-3 22, Darin Gordon 6 7-9 19, Wierman 1 0-0 2, Sager 2 0-0 4, Flaherty 0 0-0 0, Drew Gordon 1 0-0 2, Panter 1 0-0 2, Messersmith 0 0-0 0 . Totals — 19 10-12 51.
Central York (52)
Jared Wagner 7 6-7 23, Markey 2 2-4 6, Edmonds 3 0-0 7, Batts 3 0-0 7, Sobestonovich 1 0-0 2, Ray 0 0-0 0, Czulada 2 0-0 4, O'Neill 1 0-0 3. Totals —19 8-11 52.
Spring Grove _ 14 _ 15 _ 9 _ 9 _ 4_ — _ 51
Central York _ 18 _ 13 _ 15 _ 1 _ 5 _ — _ 52
3-point goals — Central York 6 (Wagner 3, Edmonds, O'Neill, Batts), Spring Grove 1 (Brooks).