Delone Catholic girls' basketball handles MaST Charter to open state tournament

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

McSHERRYSTOWN — Coming off a bitterly disappointing performance a week ago in the District 3 Class 4A final, the Delone Catholic girls’ basketball team was focused on making amends. That loss to Wyomissing at the Giant Center in the district final cost the Squirettes a chance to take what many, including Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode, believe to be an easier path back to Hershey for the state final.

That journey began Saturday afternoon at home against District 1 runner-up MaST Charter. While it wasn’t always pretty, the Delone girls muscled their way past the visiting Panthers, 57-27, to punch their ticket to the second round of the 4A playoffs.

The Squirettes (25-3) will next face District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Cedar Crest High School. The Vikings (25-3) earned their berth to the next round by ousting Eastern York, 55-46, at home Saturday.

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

Those expecting Eckenrode, a Hall of Fame coach with well over 500 career victories under his belt, to have a smile on his face after a victory that included the mercy rule being implemented clearly don’t know the Delone boss.

“I’m glad that we won the game tonight,” Eckenrode said, “but we were just too sloppy at times. Our passing was too sloppy at times. and against a good team, you’re just not going to get away with that. We have to clean up our turnovers. What was it, 17? Seventeen turnovers against them was just way too many.”

For all those negatives, however, the Squirettes controlled the contest all the way against a scrappy Panthers side that featured a pair of speedy guards in Anye and Saniyah Washington. While the sisters combined for 18 points, though, the MaST girls were unable to generate much scoring elsewhere on the floor.

“With No. 2 (Saniyah) and 23 (Anye) running around … they’re quick,” Eckenrode said. “They’re as fast as anyone that we played against all year. And they caused some problems and forced you to have to pay attention. They’ll just come up sneaking behind you, and don’t even get me started on that.”

Unlike in the district final, where only Kaitlyn Schwarz was able to generate consistent scoring for the Squirettes, the scoresheet was well-balanced Saturday. Schwarz and Brielle Baughman scored 14 points each, while Megan Jacoby, the York-Adams Division III Player of the Year, finished with a team-high 15 points.

Delone Catholic's Brielle Baughman (34)against Central York during their girls basketball semifinal in York on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

The mention of Schwarz, who was a standout for the Delone girls’ volleyball team this fall, actually got Eckenrode to speak about some of the positive things he saw Saturday.

“Kaitlyn is playing pretty good right now,” Eckenrode said. “She’s finishing around the basket. She’s a good leader and I’d say that she’s the most vocal of the team. Certainly if we had a leader, vocally it’s going to be her, and she’s just playing at a high level right now.”

On a team with no seniors, the junior standout — who also scored 14 points in the district final — relishes the opportunity to take charge.

“I think that I bring a different level of intensity that no one else does,” Schwarz said. “And I certainly don’t get embarrassed to be loud or cheer for people, which makes me happy, and I think that sometimes that’s something just gets us all moving.”

Delone Catholic's Kaitlyn Schwarz (40) against Central York during their girls basketball semifinal in York on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

The Delone girls are moving on, but there's more work to do.

“It’s ‘win and advance,’ and I get that part,” Eckenrode said, “but you want to win and play your best basketball at this time of the year and I’m not convinced that we’re actually doing that. Hopefully we can get back on track Wednesday.”