Since 2000, three York-Adams League programs have been perennial contenders for the title as the best girls’ basketball team in the area.
Their names — York Catholic, Delone Catholic and Red Lion — have become synonymous with success.
The Squirettes and Lions were unquestionably the top two programs at the turn of the century. Those two schools battled head-to-head a handful of times for the league title. Delone won the title in 2001 before Red Lion claimed the next five league crowns from 2002-2006, as well as one more in 2016.
After the Delone-Red Lion rivalry died down some, the Fighting Irish began their continuing dynasty by capturing the crown in 2007 as well as in 2008 and 2011 against the Lions.
In total, those three programs accounted for nine titles over a 16-year stretch.
That brings us to the present, when two of the three powers mentioned above are in uncharted territory.
The Squirettes are sitting pretty, as normal, with an 8-1 overall record and a 3-0 mark in York-Adams Division III.
For the other two, however, the picture is not quite so rosy.
The Lions are just 1-7 overall and 0-3 in Division I.
The Fighting Irish, meanwhile, are not in such dire straits. Still, York Catholic has struggled some, with their three victories this season coming against Division III foes. In contrast, outside of the division, the Irish are winless (0-5).
It's clear that both Red Lion and York Catholic will need to get pretty hot pretty soon if they want to have any championship or postseason aspirations.
The Irish can take a big step in that direction on Friday, Jan. 5, against the Squirettes. A victory would vault the defending District 3 Class 3-A champions ahead of their rivals in the D-III standings. A loss, however, would drop them to 3-6.
“It will be a good measuring stick to see where we’re both at,” York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said. “But it will probably be a bigger deal for us. I said at the beginning of the year that (Delone) is a top-three team in this league.”
The Lions have contests against a pair of struggling teams in York High and Conrad Weiser before a tilt against New Oxford next week. Victories in all three of those contests could prove to be a springboard for a comeback season.
Still, both the Lions and the Irish have reason to be concerned about making the district playoffs. Red Lion is No. 23 in the 6-A power ratings and only 12 will make the district field. York Catholic is No. 6 in the 3-A ratings and only six will qualify for districts.
Bauhof’s return looming: A large part of York Catholic’s troubles so far this season has to do with the absence of senior standout Kate Bauhof. The St. Francis University (Brooklyn) recruit, who led the Y-A League in scoring as a junior, has yet to play a game this season after suffering an ACL injury over the summer.
Without Bauhof, the Irish have struggled offensively and defensively. York Catholic is in the middle of the pack in the league in offense (11th, 46.4 points per game) and defense (15th, 43.1 points allowed per game).
While there's no definitive timeline for Bauhof’s return, the senior has been doing non-contact drills and shooting with the team for the past few weeks. If it were up to her, Bankos believes his standout would probably be playing already.
“I think so,” Bankos said when asked if Bauhof is getting anxious to rejoin the squad. “But even on the bench during games she’s very engaged with (her teammates) in the huddles and chiming in. I know it’s hard on her to feel totally engaged when all you can do is just sit there and watch while you feel a little helpless.”
There's no denying that York Catholic has faced one of the toughest schedules around. York Catholic’s five losses have come at the hands of some pretty notable foes, including Trinity, Central York, Cedar Cliff and Dallastown. Non-league battles with Eastern York, West York, Berks Catholic and Minersville loom ahead, in addition to two clashes with the Squirettes.
Bankos is making no apologies for the challenging slate he put together.
“You have to play these kinds of teams if you want to get better,” he said. “Or else you’re never going to accomplish anything. And I‘ve told the girls that we have a very tough schedule and if we don’t win some of these games there is that risk (of missing the playoffs).”
While the Irish came up short in a 50-48 setback against Dallastown on Wednesday, Jan. 3, Bankos and his club held a five-point lead with two minutes left. While the Wildcats rallied to claim victory, there were a number of positive signs that Bankos saw from his club.
“Dallastown is a good team,” Bankos said. “We didn’t finish the game, but the game was much more of an ‘our-style’ of game. We were in the game and it was very competitive.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.