Delone's stellar senior class reflects on 'great chemistry' that yielded huge hoop success

DANTE GREEN
717-505-5418/@TaySean14
Delone Catholic's Giana Hoddinott is chased by Lancaster Catholic's Jeriyah Johnson in a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal at Delone Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Delone would win 53-41. Bill Kalina photo

Many folks believe that basketball is just a sport, but to those who play the game, it is so much more.

It’s an opportunity to build a bond with those you play with and pick up a few life lessons along the way.

That’s exactly what happened for an impressive senior class on the Delone Catholic girls' basketball team. They built strong ties with their teammates and coaches.

It was a productive relationship off and on the court.

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Delone Catholic girls' basketball coach Gerry Eckenrode vs Trinity in the District 3 Class 3-A girls's basketball final, Thursday, February 27, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The Delone seniors (Giana Hoddinott, Makenna Mummert, Abigael Vingsen, Emily McCann, Maggie Hughes and Abby Jacoby) finished their careers with a 100-9 varsity record. They won four York-Adams Division III crowns (with a 48-0 division record), three District 3 titles and one state championship.

It was one of the most dominant runs in history for a York-Adams girls’ basketball program.

That run ended on March 16 with a 40-36 loss to Lansdale Catholic in a PIAA Class 4-A quarterfinal . It’s been more than a week since that loss, giving the Squirettes a chance to fully digest when they accomplished.

For the Delone seniors, the last four years was about more than just on-court success.

“The friendships and we bonded really well — that was the best part. The lessons learned. Nothing came easy and we were a big target to everyone. Everyone wanted to beat us,” Vingsen said.

Delone Catholic's Makenna Mummert drives against Lancaster Catholic's Lily Lehman in a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal at Delone Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Delone would win 53-41. Bill Kalina photo

Good chemistry: Several of the seniors pointed to their chemistry off the court as a reason for their success on it. 

“We have been playing together since third grade and we had great chemistry. When one is down, we build each other. Every practice is like a game. So, we practiced hard,” said Mummert, the second-leading scorer on the team this year.

They credited the coaches' ability to keep them prepared and the hard work they put into practice as reasons why Delone has been a powerhouse. 

“We wanted to win, and everyone put a lot of effort in, including the coach. We had strong game plans,” Vingsen said.

Dallastown's Trishelle Guy scramble for a rebound with Delone Catholic's Giana Hoddinott and Abigael Vingsen, left, during a York-Adams girls' basketball semifinal at York County School of Technology Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Delone went on to win 39-28. Bill Kalina photo

"Special group" for Eckenrode: Head coach Gerry Eckenrode has been at Delone for more than decades. He’s won four state championships during his tenure, with the most recent in 2019.

“I know a lot of people say this, but this was a special group. I've coached a lot of groups and this was a very special group. They will be missed,” Eckenrode said. 

Delone, a small Catholic school, has been highly supportive of its sports teams.

“Delone taught me to be grounded. It's such a small community and we had so much support. Everyone knows who you are and it's incredible with the family aspect. Everyone on that team is my sister,” Hoddinott said.

Hoddinott was a starter as a freshman on the 2019 state title team. She’s also won three straight York-Adams Division III Player of the Year awards and scored 1,449 points in her career. She now heads to Mount St. Mary's to play NCAA Division I ball.  

Delone Catholic's Emily McCann drives against Lancaster Catholic's Lily Lehman in a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal at Delone Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Delone would win 53-41. Bill Kalina photo

Dealing with adversity: After winning the state 3-A championship in 2019, the girls experienced adversity in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic impacted sports everywhere. The 2020 postseason was canceled before they had a chance to defend their title.

Then, because of its success, Delone was moved up to Class 4-A for the past two seasons because of the PIAA's competitive balance rule, forcing the Squirettes to play against bigger schools.

It was a tough ending this year for a group that excelled over the years. The Lansdale Catholic loss was devasting, especially since the Squirettes had beaten Lansdale Catholic earlier in the season.

“It was really hard, and I was very upset. It didn’t register, I wasn’t going to be playing with the same people,” Mummert said. “We had to leave the coaches and we are all family. It was hard to wrap my mind that we weren't going to be together. I will always cherish that, and coaches were role models. I learned ways to be a better person.”

Jacoby tore her anterior cruciate ligament before the season started and was unable to play her senior year. She had played the previous three seasons and was a part of the state championship team in 2019.

For her, watching from the sidelines, it was still a tough pill to swallow, but she found ways to be there for her senior teammates in their final run.

“I stayed positive and was there for my teammates. I kept them going and watching them win cheered me up,” Jacoby said.

Delone Catholic's Maggie Hughes eyes the basket on a drive against Lancaster Catholic's Jeriyah Johnson in a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal at Delone Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Delone would win 53-41. Bill Kalina photo

Life lessons: Each of the Delone seniors will have to move on to something different in their lives, but they’ll never forget the life lessons they learned from playing basketball together. 

“It taught me to be confident and trust those around me. There is always adversity to deal with and none of that matters. You have to be there for each other. Learn from mistakes, and when you make them, get back up,” McCann said.

Delone will move forward with a much younger team next season, but the impact that this season's class left won’t be forgotten any time soon. 

Hughes has some advice for the next group of Squirettes.

“This is your time now and you have to make the most of every moment,” Hughes said. “Push each other every day and every practice. It flies by, so make the most of it.”

Reach Dante Green at dgreen@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.