Cold-shooting York Catholic boys fall in District 3 Class 3-A basketball championship
Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense.
Unfortunately for the York Catholic boys’ basketball team on Saturday, a good defense wasn’t good enough.
The Fighting Irish played a strong defensive game against an explosive Columbia team, but were unable to produce enough points on the offensive side and dropped a 47-30 decision in the District 3 Class 3-A boys’ basketball championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The Irish fell short in their effort to claim the 13th district title in program history, and their first since 2020.
The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, claimed their first district title since 1994 and their eighth overall.
No. 1 seed Columbia improved to 21-3. No. 2 seed York Catholic fell to 17-8.
For York-Adams Division III champion York Catholic, the outcome was a closer than the regular-season meeting between the two teams, when Columbia won 85-56 and dominated on both sides of the court.
This time around, York Catholic played far better on the defensive end but couldn’t find the bottom of the bucket on the other side. The Irish struggled from the field, missing numerous open shots and layups at the rim. But Lancaster-Lebanon Section 5 champion Columbia defended well, recording five blocks in the paint. The Irish scored only 15 points through the first 21 minutes of the game. They matched that total in the final 11 minutes.
York Catholic head coach Dustin Boeckel said his team needed to do be better offensively.
“We did a good job mitigating them offensively -- not letting them score in bunches. We did what we wanted on the defensive end. We just needed to do more on the offensive end,” he said.
York Catholic played an effective style of zone defense, forcing Columbia to shoot the ball from 3-point range and the Irish collapsed well on the paint. The defense worked for the most part. Columbia shot 7 for 18 from distance. When Columbia did score, it was primarily off turnovers in the open court or inside.
York Catholic’s 1-3-1 zone succeeded in forcing the Tide into jumpers, but a few more than the Irish wanted went through the net.
York Catholic led early in the game, 8-7, but a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Columbia its first lead, 10-8, after one quarter.
It was still a relatively close game at the half, with Columbia holding a 20-13 edge.
Colombia started to penetrate the zone in the second half and found several players under the rim for layups. They also switched up their defense from man-to-man to zone, and that was key in the Tide pulling away. York Catholic found no easy looks against the zone.
The Irish turned over the ball numerous times including five traveling violations in the first three quarters. Columbia picked off several passes and was able to finish easy layups at the rim. The Tide also dominated inside.
York Catholic’s Luke Forjan, the leading scorer in the York-Adams League, averaging 22 points a game, was stifled and unable to attack the bucket. York Catholic attempted to game plan around him in the second half, but Columbia did a good job to keep him in check.
“We got the ball into Forjan in the high post and then had him attack the basket and draw some defenders in, but it didn’t go as planned. We needed to hit some shots,” Boeckel said.
Kerry Glover and Robert Footman had 13 points each for the Tide. Forjan had 12 and Michael Shelley had 11 points for the Irish.
Both teams will now move on to the state playoffs on Wednesday. York Catholic will play host to the District 4 runner-up, Troy Area (22-5), at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Reach Dante Green at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.