HAMBURG — The York Catholic girls' basketball team has a lot to be proud of this season.
They shared the York-Adams League Division III title, finished second in the District 3-AA playoffs and were the last York-area girls' team left standing.
But proud isn't the word that would describe the Irish following Tuesday evening's showdown against Holy Redeemer in the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
Sure, they battled the No. 3 AA team in state (according to Pennlive.com) close, drawing within a basket on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter.
And sure, they frustrated a Royals outfit that has been steamrolling opponents all season long by an average of 30 points per game.
The end result, however, was something that left the Irish with a sour taste in their mouths. Despite a heroic effort and a game-high 19 points from standout Kate Bauhof, York Catholic fell to the Wilkes-Barre parochial power, 52-43, at Hamburg High School.
Redeemer (24-3) will square off against No. 2 Neumann-Goretti, which defeated No. 1 Minersville, in the state quarterfinals Friday evening.
The Irish will head home for the spring after dropping to 21-7.
Second-quarter woes: York Catholic was hampered primarily by a poor second quarter, when the Royals outscored Kevin Bankos' club, 23-11. That momentum-changing period gave the District 2 champs a 35-27 lead going into the intermission.
That was something that Bankos knew Redeemer was capable of doing. The Royals did something very similar in their first-round victory over Southern Columbia, when they won the second period by a 22-5 margin.
"They scored 23 points against us in the second quarter, which was a little disappointing," Bankos said. "But we challenged them in the third quarter to come out and try to shut them down."
Getting back into it: The District 3 runner-up did just that, holding a high-octane Redeemer side to four points in the third period. That standout defensive performance, however, was partly negated by the fact that the Irish were only able to score six themselves.
"Yeah, they did their job on defense," Bankos said. "But we just couldn't get the ball to fall. And we missed some foul shots, which is not usual for the team. But I think they battled their way back into the game."
Trailing 39-33 heading in to the fourth quarter, the Irish used a 4-0 run to get within 39-37. Moments later they were again down by a bucket (40-38) with 4:42 left. But much like happened in the second period, the Irish were unable to get over the hump. The shots just wouldn't fall.
"We just got beat by a team that made a couple more plays than us," Bankos said.
Bauhof shines: Bauhof helped the Irish set a good tone early on. The sophomore scored the game's first points, while scoring 13 points over the first 16 minutes.
The Irish guard was clearly on the minds of the Redeemer defense. The Royals' coach implored his team to "stick with No. 12 (Bauhof)." That attention led to some scraps and dings for Bauhof, who hit the floor hard at least twice during the contest.
"Welcome to states," Bankos said of Bauhof's dings. "It's a challenging game."
The game was even more challenging because the Royals used their size advantage to their benefit. Rebecca Prociak, a 6-foot-1 forward, led her team with 15 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Bankos, however, pointed to the Royals' guards as a difference maker.
"They're a good team," Bankos said. "And, for me, it starts with the guards. I think she (Lydia Lawson) handled herself well. One came off the bench (Kayla Hons) and hit a couple of threes. But that didn't surprise us. They're a talented team."
The Irish got eight points apiece from Teslyn Sterner and Jania Wright. Wright and Emily Laslo both pulled down 11 rebounds each.
Looking back on successful season: While the outcome was certainly not what Bankos wanted for his club, he was nevertheless proud and impressed with how his team — especially his four seniors — played Tuesday, and all year long.
"I'm super proud of them," Bankos said of Laslo, Danielle Desseyn, Kiersten Reed and Marissa Duchek. "They accepted all the younger kids and played their roles as seniors. They understood the ride and they enjoyed this for four years."
While those four will be gone next year, York Catholic figures to be positioned well to get back to at least this same spot next season.
"I told the other (non-senior) kids that if they're not excited about this ride that just happened, that we need to check if you're alive," Bankos said. "And, No. 2, I would want to do everything I can to get back here. Not everybody gets to do this. It's a fun thing."
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.