The Gettysburg Area High School Girls Basketball team has become a powerhouse of the 5A division of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). In each of the last three years, the Warriors have reached the District 3 finals, taking home the championship in the 2019-2020 season that was cut short due to the pandemic.
Much of the 2020-21 preseason was also scrapped, leading to uncertainty for the team. “Coming off a season that we were final-8 in states before the shutdown and losing 4 seniors, it was tough not having the summer and fall to develop and become a cohesive unit as a team,” said Warriors coach Jeffery Bair. “that’s why you saw a lot of that prep work happening during the season rather than before.”
Bair pointed to juniors Briana Abate and Skye Shepherd, who didn’t have huge roles on the 2019-2020 district championship team but developed into big time contributors for the Warriors in this year’s run to the district finals.
Despite their youth and inexperience, the team continued to jell throughout the season. Despite it being easy to be overconfident based on recent success, Bair never saw this happen with his team. “This team was never a complacent team because we won a lot of close games, our opponents found ways to make it difficult on us. I just don’t think that we felt dominant, we were just winning,” said Bair
According to Junior Camyrn Felix, the team remained motivated to win. “It was very clear this year that we wanted to make it back to the district finals. My teammates and I never became complacent or took any win or loss for granted. We learned from both and learning leads to success. Everyone had that same goal, and that is to win another district championship.”
Thanks to this mindset, the Warriors once again found themselves in the district playoffs, finishing the regular season with a record of 16-3. After defeating Manheim Central and Cocalico in the first rounds, the Warriors found themselves up against the number one overall seed in Mechanicsburg.
The Warriors season looked to be on its last legs as Mechanicsburg took an 8-point lead just after the start of the third quarter, but Shepherd hit back-to-back threes to cut the lead to 2. “As soon as we took the lead midway through the 4th quarter I knew we were winning the game,” said Felix. “Our late game play is something we pride ourselves on.” Gettysburg ended up winning the 4th quarter 17-3 and won the rights to compete in their third straight district title with the 41-32 victory.
Although the Warriors would end up losing in the district finals to Spring Grove there is a lot to look forward to for next year. Though they will lose the leadership of senior Karli Bortner, every other player will be returning for the 2021-2022 campaign. This includes Abate and Shepherd, senior forward Carley Eckhart, and Felix, who led the York-Adams league in three pointers made and free throw percentage and was second on the team in scoring.
The team’s leading scorer, Anne Bair will also be returning for her senior campaign. The all state guard, who has already committed to play division one basketball at Manhattan College, will be looking to lead her team to another district title game next year, and possibly make a run at the state title.
“Next year is a lot to look forward to for us. Our junior class is very solid. The underclassmen who got some varsity this past season have improved immensely. We are really focused on working hard in the off season. As a leader of the team I am very excited and looking forward to everything we want to accomplish next year. But for now I am going to continue working hard and getting better,” said Felix.