The Delone Catholic girls' basketball team isn't just playing a consolation game when it takes on Wyomissing at 8 p.m. Thursday at East Pennsboro High School in the District 3 Class AA playoffs.
While it is just a third-place game, it also gives the Squirettes an opportunity to make the state playoffs. The top three teams in Class AA qualify, and win Thursday puts Delone Catholic in the tournament after a one-year absence.
It's not an unfamiliar situation for the Squirettes, who are playing in their second straight District 3 Class AA third-place game. Last season, Delone Catholic fell to Trinity and had its season end short of the PIAA playoffs.
While the Squirettes hope things go differently this time around, a loss would continue the trend of this postseason looking very similar to last year's for Hanover-area basketball teams.
Last year, the Delone Catholic girls' and Hanover boys' programs each missed making the state tournament by one game, while the 11th-seeded Gettysburg boys' team was the only local team to make it by finishing in the top-six in Class AAA.
Hanover lost in the Class AA quarterfinals this season, but Gettysburg once again qualified for states by winning the sixth-place game, this time as the 10th seed. The Warriors will play ELCO in the fifth-place game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Manheim Township High School.
The biggest difference between this season and last for the Hanover area is that Spring Grove's boys' team easily qualified after making it to the Class AAAA semifinals. So while only one team in the area made it last season, up to three could this year, depending on the outcome of Delone's game Thursday.
Here's a quick look at each remaining team and its postseason journey so far.
Spring Grove boys (24-3)
The Rockets came into the postseason with big aspirations and nearly lived up to all of them. They won their first YAIAA title since 1971 and made it to the district semifinals at the Giant Center in Hershey by dismantling Central Dauphin East and J.P. McCaskey in their first two district games. But the ride was halted there, as Central York ended Spring Grove's quest for a district title by beating the Rockets, 52-51, on a last-second tip-in by Jared Wagner. The Rockets are still primed for a solid run in the state playoffs. They will play Wilson in the district third-place game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Warwick High School.
Gettysburg boys (14-9)
It's been a strange season for the Warriors, who didn't even make the YAIAA playoffs but will go to the state tournament for the second straight year after previously not making it since 1984. After losing its last three games of the regular season and then having a two-week layoff, Gettysburg upset seventh-seeded Palmyra, 45-44, in the first round of districts. An eight-point loss to No. 2 seed Lampeter-Strasburg sent the Warriors to the consolation bracket, but they responded by holding Cocalico to three points through three quarters in an eventual 42-23 win. Gettysburg still has one more district game left, but its focus is on states. The Warriors lost to Neumann-Goretti by 48 in their lone PIAA playoff game last season.
Delone Catholic girls (18-7)
The one team in the area whose fate will be decided by its game Thursday, Delone was one quarter away from making it to the District 3 Class AA title game before losing to top-seeded Camp Hill in the semifinals. Before that, the Squirettes beat Linden Hall by 46 in the district quarters and made it to the YAIAA semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion Red Lion. Last season was the first time since 2008 that Delone Catholic didn't qualify for the PIAA playoffs.