HERSHEY — While a good start isn't everything in basketball, it's much preferred to the alternative
Unfortunately for the Eastern York girls' basketball team, a rough patch in the first quarter put the Golden Knights in a big hole early against top-seeded Lancaster Catholic in the District 3 Class 4-A final at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Trailing for the entirety of Thursday's contest, the third-seeded Knights were still able to make the Crusaders and their coach, Charlie Detz, sweat it out.
In the end, however, the Eastern girls were never able to fully come back, falling 53-43.
"Nobody really gave us a chance," Eastern York coach Brad Weaver said. "And we finished second in the district, so I just told (the girls) to keep their head up."
Slow start for Knights: Winners of three straight District 3 4-A titles, the Crusaders (25-3) sprung out to a quick 10-3 lead in the first quarter to take command. By the end of the frame, the lead reached double digits (23-13).
"They shot the ball really well the first quarter," Weaver said. "But we missed a lot of layups and had a ton of turnovers. That said, we didn't give up, but we just didn't come out and do the things that we needed to do."
Eastern's run to the title game included a pair of 20-plus-point victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Those results showed Weaver what his players are capable of when they are on their games.
Some of the credit for the Knights' struggles has to be given to the Crusaders.
"I normally am able to formulate a game plan to try to give us an advantage," Weaver said. "And looking at them, they have a quick guard, they have shooters and they have a good post. There really wasn't anything to go after."
Energy drain: The early hole forced Weaver to resort to trapping defensively for much longer than he would have liked. The energy exerted to do that likely hindered the comeback chances.
"That definitely wasn't the plan," Weaver said.
That said, the Crusaders and Detz never felt comfortable, especially after Eastern drew within five (48-43) with just more than a minute left.
"They're gritty," Detz said. "We knew they were going to fight and there's no give in them. Even when we went up eight (51-43), we're talking in the huddle that we have to execute our plays."
Eastern standouts: Addison Malone, Victoria Zerbe and Breana Grim all helped keep the Knights (18-8) within striking distance in the second half. Malone and Zerbe each scored seven of their nine points in the final half, while Grim tallied half of her team-high 16 points in the second half.
"We fought back," Weaver said. "Now I would love to have that first quarter over again, but in this situation, when you get up here you have to be ready to play."
Despite the setback, the Knights know they won’t have far to travel for their PIAA opener next weekend. They will get the District 1 runner-up Saturday, March 7, at a time and location — inside of District 3 — to be determined.
"There's nothing to be mad about tonight," Weaver said. "We'll have off a couple of days and get back at it. We play next Saturday and we'll have to be sure to go out and play hard."
Hempfield 39, Dallastown 20: At Hempfield, the Wildcats saw their season end with a loss in the District 3 Class 6-A seventh-place game. D'Shantae Edwards had six points to lead Dallastown. No. 9 seed Dallastown finished at 19-10. No. 7 seed Hempfield improved to 19-8.
York Suburban 60, Spring Grove 58: At Spring Grove, the Rockets' late rally fell short in the District 3 Class 5-A fifth-place game. No. 7 seed Suburban moved to 18-8. No. 5 seed Spring Grove fell to 18-8. Both teams have made the state playoffs.
Mechanicsburg 60, West York 49: At Mechanicsburg, the No. 3 seed Bulldogs (21-6) fell to No. 1 seed Mechanicsburg (24-3) in the District 3 Class 5-A third-place game. Both teams move on to states.
Bermudian Springs 55, Wyomissing 30: At York Springs, the No. 5 seed Eagles (20-6) dominated No. 6 seed Wyomissing (18-8) in the District 3 Class 4-A fifth-place game. Lillian Peters (18 points) and Hannah Chenault (15 points) led the Eagles. Bermudian clinched a state berth with the win.
Christian School of York 31, Lebanon Catholic 29: At York, No. 2 seed CSY improved to 24-3 by winning the District 3 Class 1-A third-place game over No. 5 seed Lebanon Catholic (12-13). Emma Bell had 21 points for the Defenders. Both teams move on to states.
Cumberland Valley 34, Red Lion 27: At Cumberland Valley, the No. 5 seed Lions (21-7) dropped the District 3 Class 6-A third-place contest to No. 2 seed CV (19-4). Makiah Shaw had 16 points for Red Lion.Both teams now head to the state playoffs.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.