HERSHEY – It was only fitting that the York Catholic boys’ basketball team had faith.
Faith in God.
Faith in their coach.
Faith in each other.
In the end, that faith paid off — handsomely.
The Irish were leading by a point with about 10 seconds left in the District 3 Class 2-A championship game against Millersburg at the Giant Center Monday evening. A last-second 3-point shot by Indians standout Christian Bingamin hit the glass and bounced harmlessly off the back of the iron as the buzzer sounded, giving the York Catholic boys a dramatic 47-46 victory.
Only then, could the Irish exhale in relief.
The district title was the first for the Irish since 2007 and improved the team’s overall record this season to 12-12 overall. It was the 12th district title in the storied history of the York Catholic boys' basketball program. The Irish will now head for the state playoffs.
“Wow is right,” York Catholic coach Dustin Boeckel said afterward. “It’s amazing.”
Not a lot of pundits figured the Irish would be the ones hoisting the District 3 trophy Monday. They were the the fourth seed in a four-team 2-A field.
After a rather pedestrian regular season, that saw the Irish go 10-12, the York Catholic boys were anything but pedestrian in the postseason.
Coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind overtime victory in the semifinals against top-seeded Steel-High last week, the Irish had to do it again Monday, albeit not to the same degree as Thursday’s 73-68 triumph against the Rollers. Trailing by as many as 10 points late in the third quarter, the Irish rallied back.
Victory seemed unlikely after the teams passed the midpoint of the fourth quarter. But just like they did against the top-seeded Rollers, the YC boys repeated that magic against the No. 2 seeded Indians (now 18-7).
Trailing by five with 2:50 left, the Irish needed just 38 seconds to even it up. After Bingamin (14 points) drilled a 3-pointer with 1:43 left to put the Indians ahead, the Irish got a big bucket from Preston Boeckel to regain the lead.
On a tough shooting night from the field and at the foul line for the Irish (10 missed free throws), guard Owen Leese made two big free throws to extend the Irish advantage to three points with 37 seconds left.
After the Indians drew within a point with under 15 seconds left, the YC boys had to sweat it out. Luke Forjan, who finished with 12 points, missed two free throws with 10.4 seconds left that could have given the Irish some extra cushion.
The Indians tracked down the rebound and raced down the court for a potential game-winning shot. Instead of taking a timeout, Millersburg coach Todd Wingard opted to let his team try to win it without a set play. The ball found its way back to Bingamin with just under two seconds left.
Both teams could do nothing more than watch as the shot made its way toward the rim.
“I thought that was going to go in,” Preston Boeckel said. “But it hit the backboard.”
For a player such as Leese, the team’s point guard, winning Monday was never in doubt.
He always had faith.
“Our school is built on faith,” Leese said. “And every game this season we had faith in each other and in God.”
Milton Hershey 62, New Oxford 52: At New Oxford, the Colonials' hopes for a District 3 Class 5-A title ended with a semifinal loss to third-seeded Milton Hershey in front of a packed house. Brayden Long led New Oxford with 19 points. He got double-digit scoring support from Adbul Janneh (17) and Noah Strausbaugh (10). The Colonials led 20-11 after the first quarter, but got outscored in each succeeding quarter. Second-seeded New Oxford fell to 23-5. Milton Hershey improved to 20-3. New Oxford will play host to fourth-seeded Northern York at 7 p.m. Thursday in the district third-place game. Both teams have already qualified for the state playoffs. Northern lost in the other semifinal to eighth-seeded Muhlenberg, 54-42.
York High 61, Elizabethtown 49: At Elizabethtown, the seventh-seeded Bearcats rolled past the sixth-seeded Bears in a District 3 Class 5-A consolation contest. Antoine Beard and Rashim Lee each pumped in 15 points for the Bearcats, while Isiah Carroll added 12. York High outscored Elizabethtown in each quarter. York High (18-8) moves on to the fifth-place game at 7 p.m. Thursday at fifth-seeded (Shippensburg 19-7). Both teams have already qualified for the state playoffs.
Shippensburg 67, Gettysburg 60: At Gettysburg, the top-seeded Warriors lost for the third time in four games after a 22-0 start. Gettysburg is now 23-3 after suffering the District 3 Class 5-A consolation loss. Quadir Copeland led Gettysburg with 24 points and eight rebouds. Charles Warren added 14 points and four assists. The Warriors will take on sixth-seeded Elizabethtown (18-9) at home at 7 p.m. Thursday in the district seventh-place game. Both teams have already qualified for the state playoffs.
York Suburban 59, Lampeter-Strasburg 50: At Suburban, the Trojans kept their state playoff hopes alive with a District 3 Class 5-A consolation win. Aidan Hughley poured in 20 points to lead Suburban. Anthony Brown added 15 points, while Savon Sutton chipped in 10. No. 10 seed Suburban (19-7) will play host to 16th-seeded Hershey (13-12) in the ninth-place game at 7 p.m. Thursday. The winner will make the state playoffs. Hershey won its consolation game Monday over 13th-seeded Lower Dauphin, 51-48, in overtime.
Eastern York 55, Berks Catholic 47: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knight kept their state playoff hopes alive with a District 3 Class 4-A consolation win. Trevor Seitz had 26 points for Eastern, all of them in the second half, while Tristan Sawmiller added 11. Eastern rallied from a 25-17 halftime deficit with a 38-22 second-half surge. Sixth-seeded Eastern (15-9) will face ninth-seeded Octorara (16-9) in Wrightsville at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the district fifth-place game. The winner will earn a state playoff berth. No. 10 seed Berks Catholic finished at 13-11.
Octorara 62, Littlestown 52: At Littlestown, the fifth-seeded Thunderbolts saw their season end with a District 3 Class 4-A consolation loss. Jayden Weishaar had 22 points for the Thunderbolts, while Brayden Staub added 17. Littlestown finished at 18-7.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.