Just as York Catholic was trying to separate itself from Holy Cross, Irish freshman Kate Bauhof caught an offensive rebound and, with her back to the basket, tossed in an over-the-head shot and was fouled. She followed by calmly draining the free throw.
Welcome to the PIAA Class AA tournament, Rookie.
"I remember it, but I wasn't planning on it," Bauhof said. "I kind of caught the rebound and thought, 'Maybe I'll get fouled,' so I threw it up and it went in."
"We told her, you are missing everything easy, do something hard. That was about as hard as you can get," joked Irish coach Kevin Bankos. "That's what I love about her. We tell her, just keep playing, it will happen. Tonight was a big learning curve for her. From districts to states, it's another level. She obviously can handle it and showed she can handle it."
Bauhof scored a game-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Senior Marissa Ressler added 19 points and 10 rebounds and York Catholic started the state tournament the way it seemingly always does: A double-digit win, this time 63-46 on Friday night at Red Lion.
The reigning 10-time District 3 champion Irish improved to 24-4. Up next is District 1 champion Saint Basil Academy, a 52-34 winner against Philadelphia Academy.
York Catholic took a 28-21 lead to halftime and opened the third quarter with an 8-3 run. Bauhof's incredible play gave the Irish a 39-26 lead with 3:07 left in the period. A short while later, Anne Lehr — who had 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals — converted her own three-point play to make it 44-27.
With shutdown defense and all five starters pulling down at least six boards each, York Catholic kept up the pace. Ressler's three-point play in the opening minute of the fourth quarter put the Irish up 47-31.
"We worked on defense at practice all week. We knew they were good at driving and had a couple of 3-point shooters," Ressler said. "The main goal was stop penetration, get the rebound and push it up the floor.
Still, the third-place team from District 2 had a push-back at the ready. Holy Cross cut into the deficit with a seven-point run, but Bauhof had the answer, this time with her passing.
A free throw brought the Crusaders within 47-38, but on the fastbreak Bauhof hit Ressler with a terrific pass for a layup. After Japriya Carroll and Lehr hit two free throws apiece, Ressler again banked in a Bauhof feed off the break, suddenly it was 55-38.
That was all for the comebacks.
"We practiced converting our defense and rebounding," Bauhof said. "Marissa was there every time when we had the rebound and fast breaks. She was always in the right spot."
Ressler, who said the Irish are looking to erase the memory of losing in the second round of states a year ago, was equally kind to her teammate.
"Kate isn't a freshman, as coach says at practice. Freshman aren't supposed to play as good as she does," Ressler remarked.
Although the Irish struggled shooting early, they forced nine Crusader turnovers in the first quarter alone to take a 13-9 lead after one, setting the tone for the contest.
"We thought we could run on them," Bankos said. "We knew they were going to run, which meant they weren't going to be back all the time. We have five kids on the floor that can run. We got sloppy with the basketball a couple of times, but overall the kids executed the game plan on defense almost exactly how we wanted them to."
Gabby Giordano, who led Holy Cross with 15 points, capped a personal seven-point run with a 3-pointer that tied the game at 21 with three minutes to play in the first half.
But Bauhof followed by hitting a free throw, then grabbed an offensive rebound off her own miss of the second attempt. She went back to the line and hit another foul shot. After that she hit Lehr for a bucket, then notched a layup off a feed from Carroll. Lehr beat the halftime buzzer with a jumper and York Catholic never looked back.
HOLY CROSS (46)
Alyssa Alfano 5 2-4 12, McDonnell 0 0-0 0, Franklin 0 0-0 0, Gabby Giordano 6 2-2 15, Anderson 3 1-2 7, Kosin 2 0-0 4, Dippre 3 1-2 8.
Totals — 19 6-10 46.
YORK CATHOLIC (63)
Anne Lehr 3 4-5 10, Kate Bauhof 7 7-9 21, Marissa Ressler 9 1-2 19, Carroll 1 2-2 4, E. Laslo 0 0-0 0, Salter 0 0-0 0, Dormer 0 0-0 0, Desseyn 0 0-0 0, H. Laslo 3 3-4 9.
Totals — 23 17-22 63.
Holy Cross9121015—46York Catholic13151619—63
3-point goals — HC 2 (Girodano, Dippre), YC none.