They played tough, but the Elizabethtown Area High School girls basketball team couldn’t outlast Central York, falling 48-37 in the District 3 Class 6A semifinals at the Giant Center in Hershey on Monday, Feb. 26.
The Lady Bears continually kept themselves in the game, never trailing by double digits for the majority of the contest. The Panthers were much more balanced offensively, having three players in double figures for scoring.
“They played a little more disciplined than we did,” head coach John Myers said. “When they wanted to run a set and get a backdoor cut after 30 seconds, they did. They shot better from the free throw line as well.”
Elizabethtown stuck to their starting five for most of the game until senior Amber Orban and junior Marena Lonardi fouled out late in the fourth quarter. After that, Central York was able to finally pull away, as Elizabethtown was forced to try and force steals to get back in the game.
“At that point, we were trying to get as many turnovers and shots up as we could,” Myers said. “The strategy was to push it in transition to get scoring opportunities. We were down 8-to-9 points then, and that was really the only way we were gonna get back into it.”
Lonardi led Elizabethtown in scoring with 10 points. Junior Sydney Pierson had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Senior Autumn Royer had 9, all from 3-point range.
“I loved seeing Autumn play as confidently as she did,” Myers said. “When she’s shooting the ball well, we’re playing well. For most of the game, we were looking to feed her the ball and score in transition, but sometimes we forced things too much. You take the good with the bad.”
Senior Nikson Valencik led all scorers with 14 points for Central York. Senior Teirra Preston had 13 points and 9 rebounds, while senior Sarah Sepic added 12 points, hitting three 3-pointers.
“On film, we saw how good Preston and Valencik were,” Myers said. “Sepic surprised us a bit tonight. She hit some early shots on us that made us adjust a little bit. They’re balanced. It doesn’t seem like they have one or two megastuds; they’re just good across the board.”
The loss wasn’t due to a lack of trying. Elizabethtown showed a lot of guts in keeping pace with Central York. In the end, however, they were undermanned and just didn’t have enough in the tank to overcome the odds.
“Our effort was great, which is not surprising,” Myers said. “We just didn’t execute enough to win. I was really happy with how we responded whenever they started to inch away from us. But we just didn’t score enough. Thirty-seven points isn’t gonna do it most nights.”
The team isn’t quite done with the district playoffs yet. They get to play in the thirdplace game on Thursday, March 1, at Hempfield High School against Wilson, who lost in overtime to Central Dauphin 45-41 immediately after Elizabethtown’s game. After that, it’s onto the PIAA State Championships.
“We’re gonna play a really good team in Wilson,” Myers said. “We’ll have to regroup here and get ready to play. There’s still a ton to get up for. It’s been years and years since E-Town has been in the state playoffs, so we also get to prepare for that.”