HERSHEY >> The Christian School of York girls' basketball team had never been to a district final. Lebanon Catholic already owned 16 Class AA titles.
Crusaders coach Mike Graybill noted that difference Thursday as his team arrived at Giant Center and took in the environment.
His Crusaders didn't suffer from nerves in the first few minutes, but Lebanon Catholic remained poised for a 40-20 victory and a 17th District 3 title.
Third-seeded CSY (20-7) never led top-ranked Lebanon Catholic (17-9). A selective shooting team, the Crusaders kept within striking distance for the first half. They even went into halftime with momentum after a buzzer-beating basket from freshman Mekenzie Smith.
"We never could get that avalanche going, offensively," Graybill said. "That hurt us."
So did Lebanon Catholic freshman Mariah Sholly, who scored all eight of her points in the first quarter. Twice, she knocked down 3s.
"I was feeling it," Sholly said. "Why not shoot it? They're not guarding me."
Defensively, the freshman provided more as CSY struggled to score just two points in each the third and fourth quarters. An ice-cold CSY squad shot just 1-of-17 in the second half, while Sholly became a disruptive force with seven steals.
That combination resulted in Lebanon Catholic's first district title since 2012. Amid the celebration, Beavers coach Patti Hower couldn't help but remember her team from last year.
She had only six players, and that Lebanon Catholic team finished 4-18.
"This is all for them, too, because they helped us get to this point," Hower said. "With a young team, I'm excited for them. I've been here, but they've never been here."
All but three players on Hower's roster are freshman. She started two seniors and brought a sophomore off the bench in the fourth quarter.
"It's so exciting just as a freshman," Sholly said. "I can't wait till we're seniors. I think we have a good chance of making it again."
So could CSY.
The Crusaders have no seniors on their roster. Graybill started two freshmen and a sophomore.
Before the game, Graybill learned from officials that CSY became the first girls' team from the Commonwealth Christian Athletic Conference to make a district final. Afterward, he asked Hower as they shook hands if she wanted to schedule a regular-season game next season.
"Those are the fun relationship things that are worth more than a (gold) medal," he said.
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.
Lebanon Catholic 40, Christian School of York 20
CHRISTIAN SCHOOL OF YORK (20)
Butler 0 0-0 0, Mekenzie Smith 4 0-0 10, Landis 1 0-0 2, Stauffer 0 0-0 0, Hess 2 4-4 8, Larson 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 0-0 0, Shelton 0 0-0 0, Hofer 0 0-0 0, Tschopp 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 7 4-4 20.
LEBANON CATHOLIC (40)
Sholly 3 0-0 8, Pierre 3 0-2 6, Witmer 3 2-2 8, M. Pastal 3 0-0 6, Mars 2 3-4 7, Callihan 2 0-0 5, L. Pastal 0 0-0 0, Kline 0 0-0 0, Kostow 0 0-0 0, Andrews 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 16 5-8 40.
3-point goals — CSY 2 (Smith 2), LC 3 (Sholly 2, Callihan).