There were certainly elevated expectations for the Bermudian Springs High School girls’ basketball team heading into this season.
Having all five starters back from last season’s successful squad will definitely do that. The 2018-2019 Eagles earned a berth into the PIAA state tournament for the first time in nearly 20 years.
As the New Year rolls around, the 2019-2020 Eagles have certainly not disappointed. They are 8-0 overall and 3-0 in York-Adams Division III. That includes milestone victories over perennial parochial powers Lancaster Catholic and York Catholic.
The season-opening 73-63 win over Lancaster Catholic looks particularly impressive. The Crusaders have won eight straight games since that loss to Bermudian.
Bermudian coach Todd Askins really couldn’t ask for much more from his young and talented squad.
“Obviously this is where I hoped we would be,” Askins said.
Eagles have depth: Not surprisingly, the biggest strength for the Eagles thus far has been its depth.
There are four players averaging at least eight points per game, led by the trio of Hannah Chenault (15.8 ppg), Bailey Oehmig (13.9 ppg) and Skyler West (13.8 ppg). Because of the Eagles' balance, opponents can’t simply take away one or two girls and be successful.
“We’ve already had a couple of nights where teams have tried to take away Hannah and Skyler,” Askins said. “And Bailey has stepped up and been able to get some scores. So, if a team takes someone away, as long as the one that isn’t being guarded as closely is able to score a few baskets, that’s really a huge deal for us.”
Beating parochial teams: The victory over Lancaster Catholic, the defending District 3 Class 4-A champ, certainly raised the eyebrows of anyone who felt that last year’s ride to the state draw was a fluke.
Askins, however, isn’t heaping an abundance of importance on that result.
“I just think that they weren’t ready for our style of play,” he said. “We like to play fast and I think that was to our advantage.”
The victory over York Catholic a few weeks ago was also significant for the program, and not just because it was the first time that Askins, who is in his second year coaching at Bermudian, led the team to a win against the Irish.
No, it also marked the first time a nonparochial Y-A Division III school defeated either Delone Catholic or York Catholic in seemingly forever.
“I don’t know myself, but one of my coaches told me it's been like 350 games since any of the schools in our division have beaten one of the Catholic schools,” he said.
Delone showdown looms: While this year’s York Catholic squad (3-6) may not be of the same caliber as previous Lady Irish teams that have won District 3 and PIAA titles, the Delone program (9-0) certainly is. The defending PIAA 3-A state champ has steamrolled every opponent so far this season.
Defeating the Squirettes when the Eagles host them on Tuesday would almost certainly turn any doubters of the Berm girls into believers. Askins knows, however, doing so will be far easier said than done.
“We like to play fast, but (Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode) is running a full-court, trapping man-to-man defense the entire game,” Askins said. “And that can get you in a trouble, especially if you can’t pass the ball. You need to have good enough guard play, and if you don’t, you’re going to pay the price for it.”
Askins, who coached previously at Cumberland Valley and Carlisle, has been preparing for Delone’s press by making drills in practice more difficult than normal.
“We have transition drills and we may have an extra defender or two on the court,” he said. “We want to really try to emulate the look that he has with just five players. They (Delone) are aggressive and fast, so you really have to be on your toes at all times.”
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