YORK — It was supposed to be a triumphant return to York College for the New Oxford boys’ basketball team Thursday night.
The Colonials were riding an 11-game winning streak into the YAIAA Tournament title game, their second such trip in a row. Across from them stood a Central York team that they’d seen twice already, having split the regular season series.
A year ago, New Oxford fell to York in the title clash. Unfortunately for the Ox, the second verse was the same as the first as it lost to the Panthers 42-32 this time around.
“We had some looks tonight that just didn’t drop for us for whatever reason,” New Oxford coach Nate Myers said. “Credit Central, I thought they played very well.”
Both teams struggled to adapt to the big environment early, with spotty shooting marking both the first and second quarters.
The Colonials (21-4) made hay, however, through their defensive intensity and particularly that of Tommy Haugh, who had four blocks in the first half. Haugh added six points in the opening quarter and New Oxford led 10-8 through one.
Brayden Long got going for the Ox in the second quarter, scoring six of his seven first-half points in the frame. Shiloh Johnson kept the Panthers (21-3) afloat with five points off the bench.
Myers called a timeout late in the half after a Kairyn Brown put Central up 17-16, and the Colonials immediately responded. They scored the last four points of the half to carry a 20-17 lead into the break.
Central York seemed to find its footing out of the break, remaining stern defensively and going on a 6-1 run over the first four minutes of the quarter to grab a 23-21 lead. They continued that push in the final four minutes of the third and led 29-23 thanks to four points in the quarter from Nolan Hubbs and Taylor Wright-Rawls.
“We talked about being screeners first and getting a shot for somebody else,” Central York coach Kevin Schieler said of the halftime adjustments. “I thought we forced a lot of drives in the first half.”
A 3-pointer from Gabe Guidinger early in the fourth pushed the lead out to 32-23, but the Colonials didn’t go away. A Connor Jenkins triple, the first of the game for New Oxford, closed it to 32-28 with five minutes to play.
Jenkins led all scorers with 11 points in the contest.
Abdul Janneh later hit a pair of free throws to make it 32-30 with 3:45 left, but that was as close as the Colonials would get.
Wright-Rawls, who led his team with 10 points, hit a corner jumper to make it 34-30 with with 3:05 to play and after a pair of turnovers from Janneh, the Panthers extended the lead to 37-31 and closed it out from there.
Janneh, who has starred for New Oxford all season, finished with just three points and double digit turnovers in the contest.
“We wanted to have him touch the ball as little as possible,” Schieler said. “He’s so good and so athletic and can score in so many creative ways. I thought we did a good job of not letting him bring the ball up the floor and then not letting him catch it in any easy spots.”
After dropping last year’s final to York, the Colonials then lost the first game of the District 3 Championships, something Myers said they must avoid this time around.
“These guys will be ready Monday,” he said, referring to a home matchup against Big Spring in the Class 5A tournament. “Senior leadership cures a lot of things and we have great seniors. We’ve been leaning on them all year. They’ll be ready to start the next tournament Monday in our gym.”
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @ByCSauertieg
New Oxford 10 10 3 9 — 32
Central York 8 9 12 13 — 42
New Oxford (32): Abdul Janneh 0 3-4 3, Tommy Haugh 2 2-2 6, Noah Strausbaugh 2 1-2 5, Brayden Long 3 1-2 7, Connor Jenkins 3 4-6 11. Non-scorers: D. Golden, T. Golden. Totals: 10 11-16 32.
Central York (42): Wright-Rawls 4 2-4 10, Sweigart 3 0-0 6, Guidinger 2 2-2 7, Eisenhart 3 0-2 6, Hubbs 2 2-2 6, Brown 1 0-0 2, Johnson 2 0-0 5. Totals: 17 6-10 42.
3-pointers: NO-Jenkins 1; CY-Johnson 1, Guidinger 1.
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