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Central York picked up a hat trick of sorts Wednesday night at Dallastown High School.

For the third time this season the Panthers came away with a win over the Susquehannock Warriors, 50-41, and will advance to the YAIAA girls' basketball championship game Friday. It was far from a perfect performance from either club, but it was Central’s defense that helped them slow down the Warriors and Emma Saxton came up big when the Panthers needed her.

“I knew (the Warriors) were going to come out tonight – as they should – with a chip on their shoulder having lost to us the first two times,” Central coach Scott Wisner said. “The first half they pushed us I thought and their intensity was better than ours at the beginning of the game. But as we’ve been able to do here towards the second half the season, we’ve been very resilient

“We didn’t get down on ourselves, we fought back, we made the plays we needed to make to get back in the game, and I’m very proud of the girls for doing that.”

There wasn’t a greater example of just how important Saxton was for Central than in the fourth quarter. The Warriors were closing the deficit, but had fouled Katie Fabbri allowing her two shots from the line. She hit the first one, but missed the second.

Saxton came up with the rebound and finished on a layup to essentially turn it into a three-point play. She finished the night with 21 points, 15 of those coming in the second half of the contest.

“She can do anything,” Wisner said about Saxton. “Both inside and outside offensively. She can guard anybody. Her intensity is great, her quickness is great and she’s a real commodity for us.”

The Panthers defense also shined in that fourth quarter, as well as the rest of the game. After a sluggish start to the contest early on Central returned to form in the second period, pressuring the Warriors and forcing them to make errant passes and cough up the ball.

“I felt the second and third quarters were excellent defensively,” Wisner said. “We kept up our responsibilities well. We communicated better and I thought we rebounded a little better as well, certainly than the first quarter. So yeah everything really did come together the way we’re capable of playing in those middle quarters.”

Central will have another tough task in Friday’s league championship. The Panthers will go up against Red Lion, which ousted Delone Catholic with a 47-39 win in Wednesday's other semifinal. (GameTimePA.com will livestream the championship game here.)

The Panthers and Lions have each won a game against one another this season and are ready for a dogfight in the championship round.

“It will be nice to get back at them,” Saxton said about the upcoming matchup. “Playing the third time to see who’s really the better team. It will be good.”

Central York (50)  

Valencik 2 2-2 6, Fabbri 1 3-4 6, Stanton 0 0-0 0, Wagner 2 0-0 5, Emma Saxton 7 7-9 21, William 0 2-2 2, Sepic 2 0-2 5, Shellenberger 0 0-0 0, Teirra Preston 2 1-2 5. Totals — 16 15-21 50.

Susquehannock (41)  

McCullough 0 0-0 0, Taylor Tannura 5 2-2 14, Walker 0 0-2 0, Galbreath 1 2-2 5, Williams 3 2-6 8, Stone 3 2-3 8, Anna Mahan 2 0-0 6. Totals — 14 8-15 41.

Central York_ 9 _ 12 _ 14 _ 15 _ — _ 50  
Susquehannock_ 12 _ 8 _ 4 _ 17 _ — _ 41 

3-point goals — CY 3 (Fabbri, Wagner, Sepic), Sus 5 (Tannura 2, Mahan 2, Galbreath).

YAIAA championship

Who: Central York vs. Red Lion

What: 2016 YAIAA girls' basketball championship

When, where: Friday, 7 p.m. at York College

The backstory: Red Lion won YAIAA Division I, although its one loss in league play came against Central which finished with a 10-2 divisional record. The two teams split their two regular-season contests this season.

Watch it live: The game will be webcast on GameTimePA.com

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