Just days before the District 3 tournament begins, Camp Hill got some interesting and unfortunate news.
No. 4 Columbia had to forfeit its semifinal against the two-time reigning Class 2A champion Lions because of a lack of players available. It was scheduled for Wednesday.
The good news is the top-seeded Lions (19-4) are guaranteed a chance to defend their title. The bad news is a team had to forfeit, and now Mark Clarke’s squad will go more than two full weeks between meaningful games.
“It’s a long time to go with just practicing,” Clarke said Friday afternoon shortly after District 3 tweeted the news. The Lions did scrimmage Thursday.
Clarke said athletic director Sarah Fanus informed him during lunch Friday that there was a chance Columbia (7-15) would forfeit. He said ideally it would’ve been better for the Crimson Tide, who lost in last year’s 2A title to Camp Hill, to decline participating in the playoffs earlier so the No. 5-ranked Antietam (7-13) could’ve taken the spot, but he doesn’t “know the details.”
“I think it was sort of out of their control, too,” he said.
But there are five other Sentinel-area teams also in the playoff fold.
More than half of the local teams — eight, to be precise — are in the District 3 playoffs, w…
The local girls contingent features two teams, Camp Hill and Trinity, that are heavy favorites to win their respective classes. Girls run the (basketball) world in Cumberland County this year, it appears. It is tough to peg any boys team from the local field as a district contender this early.
Six of the Sentinel area’s girls teams made the District 3 playoffs this year, headlined by the aforementioned Shamrocks and Lions. West Perry joins them out of the Capital, while a pair of Colonial Division teams also qualified. Cedar Cliff rounds out the group in Class 6A.
Here’s a primer on how each of them might fare in their respective brackets:
No. 6 Cedar Cliff (16-6) is the lone local squad here. The Colts open with Mid-Penn Commonwealth-tested CD East, which boasts a pair of talented seniors. Tiara Little is a playmaking point guard who will test defenses, while 6-foot-1 Aunbrielle Green plays physical. The Colts are a sound team on both ends and have seven players who can step up on a given night, but will be tested defensively by this crew.
Cedar Cliff’s half of the bracket includes No. 3 Central York, which has a couple double-double threats in senior forwards Nikson Valencik and Teirra Preston, and No. 2 Elizabethtown, which boasts senior guard Amber Orban. One win guarantees the Colts a PIAA berth. Tough to say who the favorite in the bracket is.
Tough to peg the Colts in any particular spot, too. Could be a team that makes the semis, gets knocked out in the first round or runs through consolations.
No. 14 Big Spring (16-6) and No. 11 Shippensburg (15-8) could theoretically face each other in the second round.
That’s a tough task. The Greyhounds have scoring threat Mariah Martin, but she was just shut down by Harrisburg, the 5A second seed, in the Mid-Penn semis. The Bulldogs play sound defense, but the Colonial wasn’t very deep this year. Both teams will need to play complete games to advance.
Good news is a win gets them to states (eight teams qualify from District 3).
Deeper into the bracket awaits the Cougars, also in the bottom half of the 5A bracket. And they just beat No. 1 Lower Dauphin in the conference championship. Those are two heavy favorites to win the crown.
No. 9 West Perry (15-7) is a good team that hung near the top of the Capital, but if the Mustangs beat No. 8 Susquehannock on Tuesday, up next is regular-season unbeaten Lancaster Catholic. That’s a tough ask.
Imagining a quarterfinal win there, up next is Bishop McDevitt or Northern Lebanon in the semis.
It’s illogical not to consider top-seeded Trinity (17-2) the prohibitive favorite here. The Shamrocks already own wins this season over No. 2 Delone Catholic (56-43), No. 3 York Catholic (52-36) and No. 6 Middletown (58-47).
Trinity is about to go from Capital also-ran to District 3 champ in one year, with a possibly lengthy PIAA run to come.
Camp Hill has battled injuries, shooting slumps and some shaky play, but this is still the two-time defending district champ.
The Lions await either Upper Dauphin or division foe Steel-High in the final. The Rollers probably present the stiffest test, just because of the familiarity. But the Lions still have Diamond Bragg, and that tends to be enough.
Peg the Lions as the three-time defending champs.