The New Oxford players had one message to coach James Kunkle after winning their preliminary District 3 AAAA playoff game on Friday: to wash his pants so that he could wear them again for Tuesday's first-round game.
Kunkle sported red pants during the Colonials' 50-37 defeat of Mechanicsburg, upping the team's record to 2-0 with the distinctive trousers. New Oxford, the No. 15 seed in the district tournament, beat No. 8-seeded Central Dauphin when Kunkle last rocked that look back in January.
“The first time we played four complete quarters was against Central Dauphin when I wore the red pants, so I broke them out to keep the girls a little loose," he said. "I tell the girls I bring the swag to the game for them.”
Kunkle took it a step further this time around, adding a red and navy bowtie to outfit.
“When we go to districts we dress up, so I said this year I’m going with a bow tie just to mix it up,’" he said. "I’m gonna need to find another bow tie (for Tuesday).”
The Colonials (15-8) will go on the road to face No. 2-seeded Governor Mifflin in that game after pulling away from Mechanicsburg (13-10) in the fourth quarter. A Presley Berryhill 3-pointer late in the third quarter gave them a three-point lead heading into the final period, and the Colonials finished the game on a 26-11 run.
Kaelyn Long seemed to be everywhere in the second half, scoring 14 of her 16 points in that time frame and going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. She pulled down 13 rebounds in the game and also came up with multiple steals and blocks on the defensive end to lead New Oxford.
“I have confidence in her," Kunkle said of Long. "I just know that there’s times where she knows she’s one of the leaders on the team, and she’s like, ‘I’ll do it myself and get to the line.’”
Governor Mifflin only lost one game during the regular season but that loss came to Central Dauphin, the same team New Oxford beat in the previous red pants game. The Colonials also beat District 1 power Boyertown earlier in the season and took YAIAA champion Red Lion into overtime.
“We’ve proven to ourselves that we are a contender," Long said. "We cause damage, we’re a forced to be reckoned with. They don’t expect us to be much, but we come in there with no seniors, new coach, new settings, everything and we still prove that we’re worthy of this position and we’re ready to be in districts.”
They'll also come in with Kunkle's red pants and a new bow tie.
“I’m ready to see his outfit," Long said. "He also shaved his beard. I don’t even know who this guy is anymore.”
New Oxford 50, Mechanicsburg 37
Jordan Hertz 4 8-8 18, Schrass 2 3-6 8, Deveney 2 0-0 6, Skyrcenski 2 0-0 5. Totals — 10 11-14 37.
New Oxford (50)
Kaelyn Long 4 8-8 16, Presley Berryhill 5 3-3 14, Bre Sauter 4 4-4 12, Luckabaugh 2 1-3 5, Slonaker 1 1-2 3. Totals — 16 17-20 50.
Mechanicsburg _ 5 _ 14 _ 7 _ 11 _ — _ 37
New Oxford _ 9 _ 11 _ 9 _ 21 _ — _ 50
3-point goals — Mechanicsburg 5 (Hertz 2, Schrass 2, Deveney 1), New Oxford 1 (Berryhill 1).