MECHANICSBURG — There is no doubt that Lebanon Catholic — with 17 district titles in its illustrious history — is the measuring stick against which other District 3-A girls’ basketball programs compare themselves.
That's certainly the case for the Christian School of York and its coach, Mike Graybill. The chance to play the Beavers is almost a privilege for an aspiring program such as CSY.
More often than not, playing Lebanon Catholic is the toughest opponent that a team will face all year.
While Graybill’s gang did its best to hang with the defending district champs, Lebanon Catholic was not going to be stopped Tuesday evening in a District 3-A semifinal contest at Cumberland Valley High School. The Beavers scored the game’s first four points and they didn’t stop there, as they cruised to a 59-36 triumph.
Lebanon Catholic will face Halifax, a 63-36 winner over Harrisburg Academy, in the District 3-A title game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Giant Center. CSY will take on Harrisburg Academy in a third-place contest Thursday. All four semifinal teams have clinched PIAA state berths.
“The other team was just fundamentally better than we are,” Graybill said of Lebanon Catholic, which finished second in Section IV of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
The duo of Neesha Pierre and Allison Warren were more than a handful for the Crusaders all night. Both LC players used their skill and size to dominate inside. Both scored a game-high 18 points.
The chance to face a team with more skill and size gave Graybill and his players a chance to see just how far they have to go to match them. As they found out Tuesday, that gap is still pretty large.
“They’re a very good team,” Graybill said. “But playing them is a privilege.”
It wasn’t exactly fun for the CSY girls, who lost to Lebanon Catholic by 20 points in last year’s district title game, to suffer another lopsided setback against the Beavers. But the chance to play them felt like a gift for Graybill, who has trouble getting bigger schools to agree to take his team on in the regular season.
Fortunately for the CSY coach, his young team earned a road contest at Lebanon Catholic next year. Graybill sounded quite giddy about the opportunity.
“They’re on the schedule for next year,” Graybill said. “I told them that I’m excited to be able to play them again next year at their place. You just have to keep measuring yourself against the best.”
Kendis Butler led CSY with 13 points. Mekenzie Smith and Kaitlyn Hess chipped in nine points each for CSY.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.