Delone Catholic girls' basketball secures another D-III title with win at York Catholic

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

It was five years ago to the day that the York Catholic girls’ basketball team defeated parochial and York-Adams Division III rival Delone Catholic. That marked the last time the Irish — or anyone else in division — knocked off the powerhouse Squirettes.

Would history repeat itself? It certainly seemed unlikely. After all, the Delone girls dominated the first showdown between the top two teams in the division, a 62-37 whitewash in McSherrystown a couple of weeks ago.

In the rematch on York Catholic’s home court, things went much differently. Behind a zone defense that capitalized on a lackluster shooting night by the Delone girls, the Irish gave the Squirettes a run for their money. The York Catholic girls pulled within a basket with 38.7 seconds left on a clutch 3-pointer by Mariah Shue to make things very interesting.

The girls from McSherrystown, however, were unfazed by it all. Playing on the road against a long-standing rival, Delone Catholic calmly put the game away with its defense and free throw shooting, knocking down four shots from the charity stripe to secure a 47-41 victory as well as an outright Division III title.

York Catholic vs. Delone Catholic during girls’ basketball action at York Catholic Middle & High School in York City, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Delone Catholic would win the game 47-41. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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“Their big players made big plays at the end,” York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said. “That said, we had tons of opportunities the last three minutes of the game and we need to learn how to finish that game. We were in that situation against ELCO and Northern and we finished, but this time we fell asleep and she hits a big 3 in the corner.”

Bankos was referencing the dagger of a triple from Ella Hughes, who had only made five 3-pointers all year until she buried one to break a 36-all deadlock midway through the fourth quarter. Delone extended its lead to 43-38 with under a minute remaining before Shue knocked down a 3 of her own to make it 43-41.

The fact that the game was as close as it was is a testament to Bankos and his players for changing things up from the previous meeting. The Irish were a lot more deliberate offensively which contributed to a lower scoring contest, which is exactly what Bankos knew would be necessary for his team to even have a dream of pulling off an upset.

“If we play like that, we can compete against a lot of teams,” Bankos said. “I told the girls I was proud of the way they represented themselves tonight versus when we went down there and didn’t present ourselves very well.”

York Catholic’s Amanda Reed, left, takes the ball to the basket while Delone Catholic’s Reece Meckley defends during girls’ basketball action at York Catholic Middle & High School in York City, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Delone Catholic would win the game 47-41. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Another big difference for the Irish was the play of forward Amanda Reed. Largely invisible in the first clash, Reed was certainly visible all night en route to collecting a double-double — 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“We told her to get to the low blocks,” Bankos said. “We were going to dribble-penetrate and dish her the ball. She just needed to be there.”

Reed scored four points in the first, second and fourth quarters while adding six during a 9-0 Irish run that cut Delone’s biggest lead of the night down from 12 (32-20) to three by the end of the third quarter (32-29).

The Irish evened it up twice at 34-34 and 36-36 before the Squirettes regained the lead for good.

“I think the score was 34-34 and it was a gut-check time for us,” Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode said. “And I thought my kids handled that well. Ella made a huge 3 there and hit two foul shots and Reece (Meckley) hits a couple of nice floaters there in the lane.”

York Catholic's Meredith Smith, right, looks to get past Delone Catholic's Ella Hughes during girls’ basketball action at York Catholic Middle & High School in York City, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Delone Catholic would win the game 47-41. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Delone’s triumph marked two milestone accomplishments. The Squirettes improved to 21-1 overall (12-0 in Division III) with their 20th straight victory. The outcome, which secured at least a share of the program's ninth straight Division III titles, also extended Delone’s regular-season winning streak in the division to an impressive 60 games.

Not that any of that mattered to the Delone boss.

“I don’t pay attention to any of that (stuff),” Eckenrode said. “Now I know, obviously, it’s a great accomplishment. York Catholic is a premier program and to be able to do it to them for that many years in a row after they probably did it to us is an outstanding accomplishment.”

Megan Jacoby led Delone Catholic with 15 points, while Brielle Baughman chipped in 10 in the victory. Paige O’Brien added 10 points for the Irish (16-6, 10-2 Division III) while Shue finished with nine.