MILLERSVILLE -- In what is becoming an annual tradition, York Catholic and Delone Catholic are again matched up in the District 3-AA girls' basketball championship game Thursday night at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The Irish beat Delone the last two years to win the program's sixth- and seventh-straight district titles -- a district record.
The third-consecutive meeting of parochial powers for the district title became official Monday night when top-seeded York Catholic thumped No. 4-seed Annville-Cleona, 67-41, in a district semifinal. The No. 2-seed Squirettes followed with a 73-72 overtime victory in the other semifinal against No. 3 Oley Valley (18-7). Both games were played at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster County.
York Catholic (24-2) jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and led 36-14 at halftime. The Irish pumped the lead to 42-19 before Annville-Cleona (15-10) pulled to within 46-29 in the final minute of the third quarter and 54-37 with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter. York Catholic then closed out the game on a 13-4 run.
Irish leading scorer Morgan Klunk, a Bloomsburg University recruit, had a quiet 17 points while her sophomore teammate, Hannah Laslo, stole the show for the second game in a row. Laslo tallied 16 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, mostly thanks to working the pick-and-roll with Klunk.
"Me and the guys have really worked hard on that all year," Laslo said. "All year we've had the look, but we haven't really finished (on the pick-and-roll). But the guards were really good at getting it inside."
The 20-point effort followed a 16-point performance from Laslo, a 6-foot, 1-inch forward, in York Catholic's 56-14 win over Hanover in a district quarterfinal last week.
"When you put kids in the position that they are comfortable with and they start to believe it, then it becomes a dangerous combination," Irish coach Kevin Bankos said. "Right now, (Laslo) believes it. We obviously believed in her the whole time. But it's more important she believes it than us."
District title game: Unlike previous years, Bankos believes this year's Delone squad is more well-rounded, even after the loss of standout Sierra Moore to graduation. Moore is averaging three points in 21 games off the bench in her freshman season for Duke, the No. 5 ranked team in NCAA Division I hoops.
"(Delone Catholic head coach Gerry Eckenrode) has probably one of the better guards in the league that we've seen in (Maddie) Comly," Bankos said. "She makes them go. And then he's got some outside shooters. I said this at the beginning of the year and some people didn't believe me, that I thought this (Delone) team is more dangerous this year than last year. Last year, they tended to get one-dimensional, whereas this year they're not one-dimensional. They're a group of kids that you got to worry about."
York Catholic beat Delone (19-6) twice in the regular season to win the York-Adams Division IV title by two games over the Squirettes. The Irish won at home over Delone, 57-44, on Jan. 11, and pulled out a 48-43 overtime win at Delone on Feb. 5.
Thursday's title game is set for a 6:15 p.m. tip.
Delone win: In Delone's victory over Oley Valley, Abbey Sponseller hit a 3-pointer to force overtime with 3.7 seconds left in regulation.
Mary Gingrow then hit a jumper with 13.7 seconds left in OT to give Delone a 73-72 lead. Oley Valley had three chances to win it in the final seconds of OT, but could not convert.
Delone outscored Oley Valley, 24-21, in the fourth quarter to force the OT, and won the game with a 7-6 edge in the extra period.
Sponseller poured in 27 points, including six 3-pointers. Comly complemented Sponseller with 20 points. Oley Valley's Courtney Dunn led all scorers with 29 points.
The Lynx started out strong, grabbing a 17-9 lead after one quarter, but Delone fought back to earn the victory.
OTHER GIRLS' BASKETBALL
CARLISLE CHRISTIAN 47, RED LION CHRISTIAN 37: At Red Lion Christian, the home team led 21-17 at the end of the first quarter, but were unable hold on. Olivia Dettinger led the Swordsmen with 12 points, while teammate Ali Hollingshead scored 11 points.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.