Delone Catholic girls earn exposure, 3 wins vs. big-time foes at prestigious tournament

Delone Catholic's Giana Hoddinott, seen here at center in a file photo, was "simply outstanding" last weekend during a prestigious girls' basketball tournament in Maryland. That's according to her head coach at Delone, Gerry Eckenrode. Hoddinott recently got an NCAA Division I scholarship offer from Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

All things considered, it was a very successful endeavor for the Delone Catholic girls’ basketball team this past weekend.

Playing in one of the nation’s top summer showcases — the Under Armor Best of Maryland Basketball Tournament — the Squirettes held their own and then some against some of the top powerhouse programs from across North America.

While things didn’t end with Delone being crowned the champion — that honor went to Pope Paul VI from Virginia — Eckenrode was happy with the experience. Before the event began, Eckenrode said he thought his team would be an underdog in each of its games in the tournament.

“There were a lot of college coaches there, which was good for my kids,” Eckenrode said. “It was well-organized and the officiating was excellent.”

Gerry Eckenrode

Delone competed in the 22-team, four-pool draw, tallying a 2-2 record in pool play including a 52-46 setback against eventual champion Pope Paul VI.

“It was a two-point game with about a minute left,” Eckenrode said of the game against Paul VI. “We missed a shot and they scored and then we had to foul. But we did give them the closest game of any that they played this week.”

The Squirettes also played Saint-Francois out of Quebec, Canada, tight as well. The Squirettes had chances to win that game, but were doomed by some uncharacteristically poor foul shooting.

“My team is 80% at the foul line, but we went 5 of 12,” Eckenrode said. “After the game a couple of the coaches from (Saint-Francois) said that they were lucky to have won that one.”

Those two losses, which were sandwiched around a pair of impressive wins against Millennium High from New York (58-28) and Red Bank Catholic High from New Jersey (52-38), left the Squirettes with a third-place finish in Pool C.

Excelling vs. Archbishop Wood: As a result, Delone missed out on the championship bracket, but got a nice consolation by getting a chance to play defending PIAA Class 4-A champion Archbishop Wood to close out the three-day event.

While Eckenrode was a little disappointed that the Vikings didn’t have their top performer in Ryanne Allen, a 4-A first-team all-state performer as a junior because of a previous AAU commitment, he was more than happy that his team played the best of its five games against a team they hope to knock off next season en route to a 55-32 triumph.

“We were outstanding,” Eckenrode said. “My kids played exceptionally well and shot the ball well. Now they didn’t shoot the ball particularly well so it was one of those games where everything went right for us and everything was going wrong for them.”

Archbishop Wood won the 4-A state title last year over Villa Maria, 44-34. Villa Maria had eliminated Delone from the 4-A state playoffs in the semifinals, 47-39.

Getting noticed: A big benefit of the event was the opportunity for his squad to gain experience against top-flight competition, as well as the opportunity for college coaches to get first-hand looks at some potential recruits.

That definitely didn’t hurt Delone standouts Giana Hoddinott and Makenna Mummert. Hoddinott, a first-team 4-A all-state selection this past spring, has already received an offer from NCAA Division I Mount Saint Mary’s, which is located in nearby Emmitsburg, Maryland. Mummert has verbally committed to play at the NCAA Division III level for Elizabethtown.

“I know that a couple of the girls have some feelers out there,” Eckenrode said. “And they have some schools talking to them. Abby (Jacoby) has already committed to (NCAA Division II) Lock Haven.”

In terms of Hoddinott, who Eckenrode called "simply outstanding" over the tournament, the longtime Delone boss knows that any offers she gets are well-earned.

“She’s deserving,” he said. “No doubt about that. And I know she has an offer from IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), who is a big PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference), D-II school that is always involved in the playoffs. So I know that she’ll have some decisions to make in terms of which way she wants to go.”

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