Delone Catholic boys fall to Trinity in District 3 Class 3A title game

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

HERSHEY — Of the 12 top seeds in the PIAA District 3 boys’ and girls’ basketball playoffs, only one was knocked out on the floor before reaching the finals. That was Columbia, the No. 1 boys’ seed in Class 3A, which was upset by No. 5-seed Delone Catholic in the semifinals.

So, after knocking off the top seed, could the Squires keep it going in the 3A final against No. 2-seed Trinity on Tuesday evening at the Giant Center in Hershey?

Not so much.

Facing the No. 5-ranked team in the state with a lineup boasting a 6-foot-11 center and a 6-foot-7 forward, the Delone boys had their hands full. Having no one on the roster taller than 6-foot-2, the Squires did everything they could and then some to try to stick with the Shamrocks.

Perhaps on a different night where Delone shot the lights out, the outcome would have been different. That wasn’t what happened, as the Shamrocks cruised to a 71-42 victory.

Delone Catholic's Gage Zimmerman (13) goes to the basket against Trinity's Owen Schlager (11) during the PIAA District 3 Class 3A championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Trinity won the game 71-42.

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“We got it to nine before they got a run out there at the buzzer (to end the first half),” Delone coach Brandon Staub said. “Compared to last Thursday it was a better run, but they’re tough.”

Staub was referencing the 30-13 deficit his team faced against Columbia in the semifinals before turning things around with a blistering second half to upset the Crimson Tide, 56-48. Performing a miracle like that once again was not in the cards against a bigger and more physical Trinity side that has regularly been blowing out opponents all season.

Lacking the size to compete inside with the 6-foot-11 Mike Bednostin and the 6-7 Adelphe Cisse, Stuab opted to try to limit talent Trinity guard Owen Schlager. That plan worked for a bit, but Schlager, who hit the buzzer-beater at the half, still was able to score 19 points in the victory.

“(Schlager) was the gameplan,” Staub said. “We really wanted to take him away the best we could and hopefully let the other guys settle for shots and hope that with the depth perception that they would miss and we could get some rebounds. I felt like we execute it as well as we could but he’s tough.”

Delone Catholic’s Camdyn Keller, left, moves the ball down the court while Trinity’s Cooper Manley defends during PIAA District III, Class 3A championship basketball action at Giant Center in Hershey, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Trinity would win the game 71-42. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Squires kept it fairly close in the first half behind a team effort. Cam Keller, Aiden Wittmer, Aidan Bealmear and Gage Zimmerman combined for 18 points before the break to help the Squires weather the storm and enter the locker room trailing 30-19. But the onslaught moved to be too much in the second half, as the Shamrocks outscored Delone 41-23 in the final 16 minutes.

“They were everything we anticipated they would be and then some,” Staub said. “Bednostin is really tough around the hoop finishing. I think our guys played hard until the end, but they’re an athletic, big and tough team.”

Staub wanted his players to soak in the atmosphere and keep their heads up afterwards. The Squires took a team picture on the floor and he reminded them of all the good things they accomplished.

“We didn’t even make the county playoffs,” Staub said. “And with us bumping up from 2A to 3A and having a home state game and going to the Giant Center, I would have taken that sight unseen. We really wanted beat York Catholic and we did that at their house, and then what we did at Columbia is something that you could wait 30 years and never see that again. We would have liked to win here, but it doesn’t really change our path much.”

Bealmear led the Squires (17-8) with 11 points, while Keller finished with 10. Bednostin finished with 24, Schlager had 19 and Cisse tallied 12 for the District 3 Class 3A champion Shamrocks.