The Cumberland Valley girls basketball team wasn’t just seeking its fifth overall District 3 title and fourth in the last seven years.
The Eagles were also looking to exact a small form of revenge Thursday night against Central York for last season when Scott Wisner’s Panthers eliminated the Eagles with a 37-36 victory in the Class 6A semifinals. Down one point with 9.1 seconds left, Central York’s Abby McFerren sank a left-handed floater from the lane to give the Panthers the overtime victory.
Cumberland Valley made absolutely sure its fate this year didn’t rely on one shot or one favorable bounce off the rim.
The Eagles left little doubt who the best team on the floor was Thursday night as they overwhelmed Central York 64-41 on their way to the District 3 Class 6A championship in the Cumberland Valley Eagle Dome.
Cumberland Valley (20-1) bolted out to a 14-0 run to begin the game through the first seven-plus minutes. The top-seeded Eagles were patient finding the soft spots of Central York’s 2-3 zone, and when they saw open looks, they rarely missed.
“I thought the start we got off to set the stage for the whole game,” Cumberland Valley head coach Bill Wolf said. “You obviously want to start a district championship game playing well at the very beginning, and we did. But I also reminded the girls that Governor Mifflin was up on us by two touchdowns early. It’s going to be a battle.”
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Central York (17-4) switched it up, picking up a full-court zone press to claw back into the game. But every basket the No. 3 Panthers made, the Eagles had an answer, with most off the hot hand of Reagan Basehore. The sophomore, who came into the game averaging 5.7 points per game, went 5-for-5 from the floor in first-half action.
“She doesn’t always get the credit that is due because of some of the other marquee players on the team,” Wolf said. “But she’s a big part of this team. Tonight showed what she could do on a given night when she gets opportunities to shoot the ball.”
Ahead 33-24, one minute into the second half, Cumberland Valley went on a 13-0 run that effectively shut the door on Central York’s comeback chances. The lead ballooned to as much as 31 points in the fourth quarter before the starters substituted out of the game.
“Defense, as long as I’ve been here, has been the core of what we do,” Wolf said. “We’ve had some very good offensive players, but the bottom line is better defenses have carried the program.”
Freshman Jill Jekot posted a team-high 16 points in the victory, while older sister Julie racked up 13 for the game. Basehore also finished with 13, and Abbie Miller chipped in 11.
The night was undoubtedly bittersweet in the Jekot household as Jill and Julie’s sister Katie saw her season come to an end when St. Joseph’s lost in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament 79-69 to UMass. The redshirt-junior had 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and forced overtime with a last-second deep 3-pointer for the Hawks.
Cumberland Valley opens the PIAA state tournament next March 19 against either the District 2 or District 4 champions. The PIAA is only taking district champions this year, meaning the Eagles’ run will start in the quarterfinals.
But for now, the Eagles can bask in the glow of yet another championship.
“At one point, we didn’t even know if we were going to have a season,” Wolf said. “We got shut down for three weeks in December when cases began to spike again. Julie had to miss a game because she was contact-traced. Abbie missed two games because she was contact-traced. There was so much uncertainty, and to persevere through all that and end up winning is very rewarding.”