The Susquehannock girls' basketball team rallied from a second-half deficit to defeat York Catholic Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
Standing near midcourt, while their teammate sealed the win at the free-throw-line, the four other Susquehannock girls' basketball players congratulated each other with just seconds left to play against York Catholic. The Warriors reached out to each other and slapped hands.
They had knocked off York Catholic, 52-47, in the opening game of Central York's holiday tournament.
Now comes the tough part: Susquehannock (7-2) needs to solve Central York (7-1) in the championship game of the tournament.
Central, which upended Cedar Cliff, 66-37, plays Susquehannock at 7:30 in the title game, while York Catholic plays Cedar Cliff in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
The championship game will bring together to familiar opponents. Three times the teams faced off last season, and three times the Panthers walked away with victories. Both teams had to replace a key starter lost to graduation, but Central and Susquehannock remain two of the better teams in the league.
"They are kind of similar to us ... pretty much every one is back from last year," Central York coach Scott Wisner said.
And really, most of the York-Adams league's top girls' basketball teams this season have a similar blueprint: they return the core unit from a successful team a season ago.
"It helped us to get kind of a jump-start on this year," Wisner said about his own team's start of the year.
The Panthers don't have to worry about chemistry. They have it. Fine-tuning certain aspects of their game has been the biggest concern. The Panthers opened their game with a 16-2 run. After Central regrouped following a second-quarter Cedar Cliff rally, the Panthers coasted to a big victory.
The first game was a stark contrast from the nightcap in the tournament.
It had been a white-knuckle affair.
Susquehannock held a big lead … then York Catholic took over in the second half …. then Susquehannock rallied back.
They played man defense … then they played zone … then the Irish began to press … then the Warriors pressed.
The Irish's Kate Bauhof hit a game-high 24 points … Susquehannock countered with 15 points by Tyler Williams and 14 points from Jaden Walker.
The outcome could be traced back to free throws. Susquehannock was in the bonus and shooting 1-and-1 with 4:54 to play.
"We had to get the ball inside more," Susquehannock coach Dave Schreiner said. "I thought we had an advantage inside."
Then the Warriors went into the double-bonus, shooting two shots on every foul with 1:56 to play.
"Coach just told us to be smart with the ball, our shots weren't hitting as they usually are, so we knew to take it in," Susquehannock's Jaden Walker said.
The Warriors sank 20-of-27 free throws, including 12-of-15 shooting in the fourth.
Knocking off the Irish was an important step for Susuquehannock, and it had special meaning for one Susquehannock starter.
"That one up-and-under move I did, Ashton Bankos taught me, so being able to debut that to her was just … I love them, they taught me so much," said Susquehannock's Tyler Williams, who played AAU ball under Ashton Bankos during her sophomore year.
The next step, Thursday night's championship game against Central York and snapping a losing streak to the Panthers.
The Central York girls' basketball team continued to roll, picking up a victory against Cedar Cliff on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com