Delone Catholic girls fall short against Wyomissing in district hoops final
HERSHEY — A lot of times in the world of sports, it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
On Thursday morning in the District 3 Class 4A girls’ basketball final at the Giant Center, the Delone Catholic girls didn’t do either particularly well against Wyomissing.
The result? A single point over the first 12 minutes of action combined with giving up a 10-3 run to end the game, which culminated in a long bus ride back to Adams County filled with regret as the Squirettes fell by a 35-30 margin.
“You can’t win a ballgame by doing that,” Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode said of the slow start. “Now we battled back, but you just can't win a ballgame like that.”
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The No. 1-seed Squirettes missed their first 14 shots from the field and had but one point midway through the second quarter. Despite the woeful shooting, though, the Delone girls played well enough defensively to keep with striking distance of the third-seeded Spartans. Even more, a 12-4 burst over the final four minutes of the half was enough to actually put the Squirettes up by a 13-12 margin at the break.
The advantage see-sawed back and forth between the teams through the third and fourth periods. After Brielle Baughman sank a 3-pointer with 4:03 left in the contest to put Delone up 27-25, however, the Squirettes missed shots and committed a slew of turnovers over the final minutes that sealed their fate.
“The shooting in this facility can be a nightmare at times,” Eckenrode said of the Giant Center. “But the turnovers were just unforced turnovers. And we didn’t do the things we did in practice and didn’t execute, and that’s disappointing.”
The Wyomissing defense also played a role in Delone’s early shooting funk. The Spartans played a sticky zone defense that forced the Squirettes to maybe play a little too fast.
“A lot of teams have been playing that against us, so we work on that a lot in practice,” Eckenrode said. “It’s not like we don’t know it’s coming, we just didn’t get the ball where we had to.”
One of the few bright spots for Delone was forward Kaitlyn Schwarz, who did her absolute best between the halfway points of the second and fourth stanzas for the Squirettes. The junior led her team — and all scorers Thursday — with 14 points.
“Kaitlyn gives us everything that she possibly can,” Eckenrode said.
Delone Catholic, however, needed more from the girls around Schwarz. Point guard Megan Jacoby managed just five points before fouling out late, while Reece Meckley scored but three points on a 3-pointer in the third period.
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The Squirettes' inability to make the right play at the right time in the clutch was also lacking in the final period, much to the chagrin of Eckenrode.
“We had the momentum, but you have to box out,” Eckenrode said. “We didn’t and they got an (offensive) rebound and there goes the momentum.”
With that momentum also went the chance to capture a fourth consecutive district title — and a third in a row in Class 4A — and a chance to play on the west side of the PIAA bracket. Instead, the Squirettes will enter the PIAA draw as the No. 2 seed from District 3, which means an opening-round clash with the third seed from District 1.
“We just got to put this behind us,” Eckenrode said. “We’ve lost this game before and won a state championship, so we’re going to go east this time and not west. I’ll give them three days off and we’ll come back Monday and move on and try to win a couple of games at states.”
Amaya Stewart led the Spartans (26-2) with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Audrey Hurleman chipped in 10 for Wyomissing.