While the York Catholic girls' basketball team has been fairly dominant during the regular season over the past five years, going undefeated is never a specific goal for coach Kevin Bankos' club.
If it were, he probably wouldn't fill his non-league schedule with bigger schools that have a pedigree of success, such as Trinity, Dallastown, Berks Catholic and others.
So there shouldn't be too much emphasis placed on the fact that the Irish were coming off a disappointing setback (48-41) against reigning York-Adams League champion Dallastown this past Saturday. Those are the kind of games, Bankos says, that prepare York Catholic come playoff time.
They can also expose areas that need improvement for the Irish, who hosted Biglerville in a Division IV clash Monday night. Getting the ball inside with a purpose, instead of settling for outside shots, was definitely one of those areas. That was something that the Canners probably wished the Irish hadn't figured out.
The Irish scorched the nets in the first half, knocking down 18-of-35 shots, most of which came inside the paint. The result was a huge game by junior center Hannah Laslo, who scored 21 points to lead York Catholic to a 64-49 victory.
"I told the kids before the game that we have to get back to running some of the offensive structure that we've kind of gotten away from a little bit," said Bankos, whose club improved to 12-2 overall and 8-1 in the division. "So we put the reins on the outside shooting a little bit and tried to get the ball inside. And we put 64 points up on the board tonight. So it just goes to show that when we use our strengths, we'll be OK. And Biglerville is a good basketball team."
The recipient of a good number of those inside looks was Laslo. The visitors had no answer for her all night. At one point in the first half, the 6-footer scored more points by herself (14) than the whole Biglerville team (12).
"We have to recognize that when we have a post player of Hannah's capability in there, and it's not just the fact that she can score," Bankos said. "If you get the ball into her she looks to pass and she sees the floor good. And (opponents) are going to have to drop down on her and that's when we are going to get our open shots."
Perhaps just as important as the Irish getting back into their offensive scheme is the return of senior Amelia York to the lineup. York injured her ACL last May and has been working her way back into the lineup over the past week. While she hasn't started yet, her presence and attitude, both in practice and on the court, should provide a boost for the club.
"She's two weeks early, which is great, but we still need to get her physically ready," Bankos said of York, who scored three points against Biglerville in her fourth game of the year. "What she brings to the table isn't necessarily all basketball stuff. It's that emotion, the passion, the fun. All of that is just super to have back."
And now is the time that Bankos is hoping his club, which has won the past eight District 3-AA titles, starts to gear up for another lengthy postseason run. So games against Dallastown and Biglerville, who also made the district playoffs a year ago, should provide the challenges needed to get the Irish back on track.
"We have goals and we understand what our role is in the county and what's important," Bankos said. "Our first step is a division title and Saturday night was a step that gets us ready to try to play for those kinds of things. It's like I say when I talk with (Delone Catholic coach) Gerry (Eckenrode) ... our games are so exciting because we put ourselves out there in other games that are going to challenge ourselves. So when we get ready for district play, we're ready to go."
Zaenna Echevarria, who knocked down a half-court shot to end the first-half, added 11 points for the Irish, while Rebecca Isaac led the Canners with 20 points. Katie Camara chipped in 14 points for the Canners (9-5, 4-4), while Liz Burke added 10 in the setback.
OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL
Eastern York 50, Kennard-Dale 45: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights led 33-30 entering the final quarter of play and hung on for the York-Adams Division III victory. Haley Nalls and Lauren Beaver led the Golden Knights with 12 points apiece. Leah Myers also knocked in 11 points for the home team. For the Rams, Avery Gertz knocked in 11 points, while Katelyn Trott scored 10 points. Eastern improved to 7-1 in the division and 9-5 overall, while K-D fell to 5-4 in the division and 6-8 overall.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.