HERSHEY — A high school basketball game is rarely decided by a single play.
Over the course of 32 minutes, any number of events could be considered decisive.
So, it wasn't surprising when York Catholic girls' basketball coach Kevin Bankos wouldn't single out one play as key in his team's District 3 Class 3-A championship game with Trinity on Wednesday.
That doesn't mean, however, that there weren't a handful of plays that his players would like back.
Trailing by as many as 11 points late in the third quarter, the Irish rallied to take the lead midway through the fourth. A couple of plays, such as a breakdown with their pressure defense that resulted in an easy lay-up and a turnover with just under 20 seconds left in a three-point game, will be hard to forget.
The Shamrocks took advantage of their opportunities late. Junior Sunshine McCrae scored an easy layup in transition while Jaylin Moore made two late free throws to help Trinity claim a 62-57 triumph at the Giant Center in Hershey.
While disappointed, Bankos seemed upbeat about his team, which will advance to the PIAA playoffs next weekend.
“We'll feel bad for 20 minutes or whatever, but we're still playing," he said. "We have a lot of basketball left to be playing.”
Key sequence: Bankos downplayed the significance of a play late in the contest with his team trailing, 60-57. That came off the heels of McCrae's score.
After a timeout, the third-seeded Irish (13-13) set up a double screen for senior Abby Pilkey at the top of the key. The ball, however, was deflected in the paint, resulting in a turnover.
“That wasn't the play that lost the game," Bankos said. "And it wouldn't have been the play that won the game either.”
Bankos, who has coached the Irish to 10 district titles, gave all of the credit to a Trinity squad that defeated his Irish by 16 points in the season opener.
“Trinity played like the experienced team that we thought they were," he said. "In the first three minutes of the third quarter, they took it to us.”
Trinity extends lead: The top-seeded Shamrocks (19-2) led just 27-26 at intermission, but two YC turnovers resulted in a quick four points for Trinty. The Mid-Penn power pushed the advantage to 45-34 with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third behind the strong play of junior Kassidy Ingram.
Ingram, who scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half, gave the Irish defense a good deal of trouble inside the paint.
“She just decided to take over the game," Bankos said. "And she did. She made good plays and hit tough shots and that's what good players do.”
YC won't go away: YC refused to go away, however. Katy Rader (11 points) buried a 3-pointer to get the Irish back on track.
By the end of the frame the deficit was 47-41, before the Irish tied it 48-48 after 3-pointers by Pilkey (18 points) and Wright (15 points) and a basket by Gina Citrone. After a timeout, Citrone, who was fouled on her lay-up, made the and-one free throw to put YC ahead by a point.
Moments later, Rader, who scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half, scored on a lay-up to even things up at 51-51.
Trinity responded with a 5-0 run that was ended when Wright knocked down a 3-pointer to draw her team within two (56-54). The Shamrocks continued to hang on to the lead even after Rader drew the Irish within a point, 58-57, with 39.9 seconds left.
The Irish, however, were beaten on their press resulting in McCrae converting a lay-up seconds later that pushed the Shamrock advantage back to 60-57.
Heads held high: Despite the loss, Bankos let his players know that they should keep their heads held high.
"We competed," said Bankos. "I'm super-excited and I just told (my team) that. I said, 'we're still playing.' We'll be heading out west, which we've never done that before, but we'll try to go out there and make some noise."
The Irish will begin their PIAA trek by taking on the No. 3 seed from District 12 Friday, March 9, at a time and location yet to be determined. YC is on the bottom half of the bracket this year which is filled with teams from the Pittsburgh, Erie and Altoona areas.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.