The York Catholic girls' basketball team takes on Saint Basil at 6 Tuesday night in a PIAA Class AA state semifinal game at the Geigle Complex in Reading. For live updates on the game, take a look at Ryan Vandersloot's Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/yaiaascores) that is embedded in this story.
Below is a preview story on the York Catholic-Saint Basil game.
When the York Catholic girls' basketball team takes to the court Tuesday night at the Geigle Complex in Reading, they won't see a familiar foe.
That doesn't mean, however, that they won't have some good second-hand information to go on. For the second year in a row, the Irish (28-2) will battle a team in the PIAA Class AA Eastern finals that defeated rival Delone Catholic previously in the tournament.
Last year it was District 2 champion Montrose that prevented the Squirettes from making it to the state semifinals. This year that team is Saint Basil Academy, the District 1 champion who enters the contest at 20-7 after defeating Notre-Dame Green Pond 45-42 Friday night. Saint Basil downed Delone in the second-round of states last Tuesday, 47-40.
"(Delone Catholic) Coach (Gerry) Eckenrode and I chatted a bit," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said. "And he was helpful with what he saw, but he was basically echoing what we (the Irish coaches) have pretty much been saying. They're a 3-point shooting team and they make you do things that you really don't want to do."
While the Panthers don't boast a lot of size on their roster, they tend to make up for it with an aggressive pressure defense. Offensively they aren't afraid to shoot from the perimeter, as evidenced by their collective seven 3-point baskets against Delone.
"They're not very big," Bankos said. "They're probably one of the deeper teams that we've seen. They'll play eight or nine kids and don't really miss a beat when they bring them in."
Bankos compared them with teams such as West York and Susquehannock. Like the Bulldogs, they want to apply constant pressure with their defense and get transition baskets off of steals and turnovers. Like the Warriors, they aren't afraid to shoot the ball from outside.
"They make you do things that you're not always comfortable doing," Bankos said. "They're one of these teams where, when you're in the middle of playing them, you don't know why things aren't working. And it's obviously that they're making you do things that you don't want to do."
To counter their style, Bankos feels his team may have to attack Saint Basil's biggest strength -- its guard play.
"I think we need put pressure on their guards," he said. "While they're very guard-oriented, I still think that getting pressure on them is going to be a key to the game. And not so much as in getting steals, but in getting them a little tired to the point where their shots are short and they shoot a little quicker."
Don't be surprised if 6-foot, 1-inch sophomore center Hannah Laslo plays a pivotal part in Tuesday's contest, especially with St. Basil's lack of a big interior presence. Laslo, who averages 11 points a game, had a big night (14 points, 17 rebounds) in the Irish's 49-44 victory over Pine Grove Friday night.
Size, however, isn't everything in basketball, according to Bankos.
"(Her size) is probably an advantage at one end, but a disadvantage at the other," Bankos said. "She'll have to play at both ends of the floor and we're comfortable with Hannah guarding other girls outside the paint. But we certainly should have an advantage on the inside game."
Perhaps York Catholic's biggest weapon is its variety of different weapons. If the Panthers focus too much on Laslo, that should open up looks for leading-scorer Morgan Klunk (17.1 ppg) and guards Deanna Chesko (5.6 ppg) and Zaenna Echevarria (8.5 ppg).
Defensively the Irish will have to keep tabs on the trio of Kalee Fuegel, Holly Frost and Kate Skalski. Fuegel had 14 points in the win over Delone.
"No. 5 (Fuegel) and No. 21 (Frost) played most of the games that we saw, and (Fuegel) is definitely going to be a key to the game," Bankos said.
Paying too much attention to Fuegel, Frost or Skalski, however, may prove costly. The Panthers -- much like York Catholic -- get contributions from everyone who steps on the floor.
"I've watched them three or four different times now and two kids came off the bench -- I think it was (Sarah Wilson) No. 10 and (Karen Lapkiewicz) No. 11 that came in -- and hit three 3s in a row to open up the game against Notre-Dame," Bankos said.
The winner of Tuesday's contest will advance to the PIAA Class AA finals Friday at noon at the Giant Center in Hershey. They will face the winner of the other semifinal contest between District 7 champion Bishop Canevin or District 7 runner-up Seton LaSalle. Seton LaSalle is the defending state champ, having knocked off York Catholic, 71-47, in last year's finals.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.