Handing out awards from the District 3 playoffs
It's been a hectic few weeks of District 3 basketball playoff action on both the boys and girls sides.
We've seen blowouts, nail biters and upsets take place as three teams from the Hanover/Adams area advanced to the PIAA playoffs. The Spring Grove boys', Gettysburg boys' and Delone Catholic girls' are the three local teams to have qualified.
With every team from the Hanover-area now done with district action, let's hand out some awards to the players, teams and performances which stood out the most.
Best game: Central York 52, Spring Grove 51, boys Class AAAA semifinals, Feb. 23 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
There was a plenty of hype going into the fourth matchup of the season between Spring Grove and Central, which took place just 10 days after the Rockets edged the Panthers, 42-36, in the YAIAA title game. The two teams would deliver another terrific game, going back-and-forth throughout the first half before a late Spring Grove comeback sent the contest to overtime. The Rockets held a one-point lead with 11 seconds to play in the extra period, but Central York's Jared Wagner converted a tip-in with three seconds left to send the Panthers to the Class AAAA championship game. Wagner finished the game with 23 points while Spring Grove star Eli Brooks finished with 22. The season series, which the Panthers lead 3-1, has a total score of 194-193 in favor of Central York.
Biggest shot: Delone Catholic's Elise Knobloch, girls Class AA third-place game, Feb. 25 at East Pennsboro.
You could easily give this one to Wagner, but I'm going with Knobloch, who saved Delone's season by nailing a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Squirettes down three to Wyomissing. With a state playoff berth on the line, the Squirettes let an eight-point, fourth quarter lead evaporate before Knobloch, whose teammates call her "Bear Claw" for the unorthodox way she shoots the ball, sent the game to overtime. Teammate Riley Vingsen would then hit the game-winning 3, as Delone prevailed, 54-48, to reach the PIAA playoffs for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.
Best defensive performance: Gettysburg against Cocalico, boys Class AAA sixth-place game, Feb. 22 at Dallastown.
It's debatable whether this award should be changed to worst shooting performance for Cocalico, but I'll give the Warriors credit for holding the Eagles to a stunningly low three points through the first three quarters of this game. Gettysburg eventually won by a more respectable score of 42-23, but only after Cocalico hit six 3-pointers in the final four minutes with most of Gettysburg's bench players in the game. The win also sent the Warriors back to the state playoffs for the second straight season.
Grittiest performance: New Oxford against Governor Mifflin, girls Class AAAA first-round game, Feb. 16 at Governor Mifflin.
It was a pretty nice season for New Oxford, which qualified for districts as the No. 15 seed despite having a roster made up entirely of underclassmen. While the Colonials won their preliminary game against Mechanicsburg, few gave them a chance against second-seeded Governor Mifflin. Although the Colonials would eventually fall, 44-39, they kept things close against the Mustangs and went into halftime tied. With every player returning next season, New Oxford will be a team to keep an eye on. Still, we'll never know what might have been if head coach James Kunkle had worn his lucky red pants against the Mustangs.
Best forgotten performance: Spring Grove's Darin Gordon against Central York, boys Class AAAA semifinals.
If it wasn't for Wagner's tip-in, Gordon would have been the hero of the fourth clash between the Rockets and Panthers. The senior scored 19 points, with eight of them coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. He was the only player on Spring Grove to score in the extra period, and he gave the Rockets a one-point lead with just 11 seconds remaining.
While Spring Grove didn't come away with the victory, it was still a very clutch performance by Gordon. But with Wagner and the Panthers rightfully getting most of the attention afterward, it was easy to forget how good the 6-foot-3 forward played.
Best farewell performance: Hanover's Kyle Krout against Upper Dauphin, boys Class AA quarterfinals, Feb. 20 at Upper Dauphin.
Krout carried the Nighthawks all season, so it was only fitting that he dropped 25 points in the final game of his career, a 69-56 loss to the Trojans. Hanover struggled to defend Upper Dauphin's up-tempo attack, but Krout's effort kept the Nighthawks in the game for most of the second half. While the loss was certainly disappointing, it was an impressive end to Krout's career. The senior guard finished second in the YAIAA in scoring at 22.1 points-per-game this season.