Bucks County Herald

Central York nips CB West in first round of states

DON LEYPOLDT

A missed lay-up here, a stop there...

“Every team playing at this point is good or they wouldn’t be here,” Central Bucks West head coach Terry Rakowsky reminded.

The difference between victory and defeat was the thinnest of margins on Friday night at William Tennent as CB West’s comeback fell just short in a state Class AAAAAA opening-round, 42-41 loss to Central York.

“I don’t think we turned it over very much. We just didn’t make shots,” Rakowsky noted. “But give them credit. They’re a solid team and well coached. And they traveled for two hours. It’s not easy to do.”

“It’s a new team that you’ve never seen before, so you watch film and have to go out and compete hard,” center Maddie Burke said.
The game was a tale of two halves as the Panthers opened a big lead and spent post-intermission hanging on for dear life.

Tori Abelson’s lay-up cut Central York’s lead to 8-6, but the Panthers rattled off a 9-0 run. Burke’s 3 ended the run, but Central York’s Allison Wagner opened the second quarter with a 3 to puff the lead up to 20-9.

CB West trailed 28-17 at halftime. The Bucks had looks, but sank just six floor baskets in the first half.

The opening 80 seconds of the second half showed why the 6’0” freshman Burke may have the highest ceiling in District One. She hit a long two and a 3, blocked a shot and fed Maggie Rakowsky for a 3. Suddenly, CB West was down by just one possession – 28-25 – with 6:40 left in the third.

“I think, in the locker room, we realized that we had to bring energy,” the Catholic University-bound Rakowsky reflected. “I feel like they wanted it more than us in the first quarter, but obviously, we wanted it and we had to show that.”

CB West struggled to solve Central York’s excellent post player, Teirra Preston, whose buzzer-beating J gave the Panthers a 37-30 lead going into the fourth.

Down 39-30, the Bucks chipped away. Bailey Tracy hit a pair of free throws. Rakowsky converted a three-point play. While the CB West defense was getting stops, Diane Nicholson fed Abelson for a reverse lay-up to bring the game to 39-37. Both Nicholson and Burke went coast-to-coast with steals-turned-lay-ups and when Burke hit hers with 3:05 left, CB West’s 41-39 lead was its first of the game.

But Preston converted a three-point play with 47 seconds left and the Panthers defense held. Preston and Emma Sexton co-led Central York with a dozen points each.

Nicholson and Burke scored 10 each while Abelson added nine. Rakowsky added seven points and contributed two dimes. Burke grabbed a half-dozen rebounds.

The Panthers, the fourth seed out of District Three, improved to 25-4 and moved on to face District 12 champion Cardinal O’Hara in the second round.

Terry Rakowsky was asked what he would have back in the game.

“Have the energy level in the first half equal what it was in the third and fourth quarter,” he replied. “It was that much higher.

And have some of those lay-ups go in – we missed a lot of lay-ups.

“We played with a lot of heart,” he concluded. “Just look at the fourth quarter.”

The Bucks, winners of the Suburban One League (SOL) and the bronze medalists in District One, ended their season at 22-6. They sank 11 3s to hand Plymouth Whitemarsh a 73-63 loss, the Colonials’ first, and then erased a seven-point halftime deficit to topple North Penn, 43-35, en route to winning the SOL title.

“We played the West way. We play hard all of the time,” Burke offered. “We’re a good shooting team that played good defense.”

CB West went 5-2 in its seven postseason games. No girl tallied more than 17 points in a game, validating the depth and balance of a squad that loses just one starting senior.

“The little things are what we focused on,” Maggie Rakowsky said. “We built on every little step and that got us up to here.”

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