The last time we saw the Central York Panthers on the basketball court, there were tears running down their faces while silver medals were being draped over their heads. On Tuesday night, there were a few more smiles.
Central bounced back from its heartbreaking YAIAA championship loss to Red Lion with a convincing, 57-37 win against No. 20 Wilson in the first round of the District 3 Class AAAA tournament. Panthers head coach Scott Wisner said a quick start in district play would be the perfect remedy to getting over such a tough loss.
"It was huge to come out strong tonight," Wisner said. "To get that taste out of our mouth was important."
Four players scored at least nine points for the Panthers who cruised past Wilson, 57-37. Brandon Stoneburg
The fourth-ranked Panthers showed no ill signs from Friday's defeat as they picked up assist after assist while shooting above 50 percent for much of the game. Sophomore Nikson Valencik scored 19 points, and Teirra Preston and Nykkoya Stanton combined for 19 off the bench as Central jumped ahead early and cruised through the finish.
"I thought we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people," Wisner said. "I think we attacked the rim well, too. We finished really well in the first half and went through that cold streak in the third quarter, but overall I liked our offensive attacking the basket."
"We have really great depth coming off the bench and a great starting five," Valencik added. "We worked really well as a team tonight, and I think the depth showed."
The cold streak Wisner mentioned came right after halftime. Wilson cut a 34-15 deficit to 43-35 by the fourth quarter. After shooting 7-for-23 in the first half, Wilson went 8-for-12 in the third. It was a necessary test for Central, Wisner added.
"You don't want it to be really smooth sailing," Wisner said. "It was good to come back and have to persevere a little bit, but I'm glad it didn't get any closer than it did."
Valencik scored seven of Central's nine third-quarter points to keep Wilson at bay, then added four more early in the fourth as the Panthers pulled away once again.
"After the championship game against Red Lion when she played phenomenal, she played phenomenally again tonight," Wisner said of Valencik. "She's really hitting her stride."
Central (23-3) advances to a quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 Harrisburg (19-4), which beat Manheim Township in Tuesday's first round. The quarterfinal is set for 5 p.m. Friday at Penn Manor.
Central York 57, Wilson 37
Zakiyah Winfield 5 3-8 13, Ebner 4 0-0 8, Owens 2 0-0 5, Wallace 2 0-0 4, Lewis 1 0-0 3, Sesay 1 0-2 2, Reichart 1 0-2 2.. Totals — 16 3-12 37.
Nikson Valencik 9 1-1 19, Teirra Preston 5 0-0 10, Saxton 4 1-2 9, Stanton 3 0-0 9, Sepic 2 0-0 4, Williams 2 0-0 4, Santana 1 0-0 2, Shellenberger 0 0-1 0, Fabbri 0 0-0 0. Totals — 26 2-4 57.
Wilson_ 6_ 9 _ 18 _ 4 _ — _ 37
Central York_ 15 _ 19 _ 9 _ 14 _ — _ 57
3-point goals — W 2 (Lewis, Owens), CY 3 (Stanton 3).