When Catie McCarty took the floor to open the season Friday night, she was the only West York senior to start the game against William Penn.
But when you have freshmen the caliber of Alayna Harris and Makenna Hoffman, going with a youth movement is understandable.
“They are not (typical freshmen)," McCarty said. “We are actually really excited to have them on. We’ve been working together the whole summer. They’ve been playing AAU for a while, so we knew they were ready for this.”
It didn’t take long for the young duo to assert themselves against the Bearcats in the semifinal of the Bulldogs’ tip-off tournament.
Hoffman scored her first varsity basket early on and was fouled for a three-point play. Moments later, she knocked down a 3-pointer. West York scored the first 18 points of the game and went on to post a 54-12 victory.
The Bulldogs will face Bishop McDevitt in Saturday’s championship game. The Crusaders held off a valiant South Western effort, 49-47, in Friday’s opener.
Hoffman led all scorers with 15 points in her debut, 10 of which came in her first varsity quarter. It’s easy to see why West York coach Darrell Wildasin has confidence in the rookies.
“I recognized the skill set right away,” Wildasin said. “Makenna Hoffman played for me in AAU, so I really got to work with her and I think that helped a lot, going from the junior high level up to the varsity. I like her a lot.
“Alayna is really special. She’s a freshman, yet I am using her everywhere on the floor. You can’t normally do that with most people.”
Wildasin also said he appreciates the way the older Bulldogs have taken to the newcomers.
“This group gets along great," he said. "They are a real pleasure to be around.”
Junior Paige Weekley added 12 points for the Bulldogs, who led 16-0 after one period.
William Penn didn’t get its first bucket until the opening minute of the second quarter when Daja Burton’s layup ended the dry spell.
Madey-Zania Redman finished with eight of the Bearcats’ 12 points for the game.
Of course, both McCarty and Wildasin know Saturday's final will be a different contest against the physical, athletic Crusaders.
“We are going to be tested,” Wildasin said. “I think as well as we did some things tonight, we’ve got to do a much better job on the boards. Offensively I thought we did a good job on the boards, but defensively I was not pleased. We’ve got to handle McDevitt’s pressure.”
“We played them twice last year and we lost (by one point) both times I think,” McCarty said. “It’s going to be a really good game. I am looking forward to it.”
South Western’s Taylor Geiman poured in 24 points, but McDevitt was able to score the final five points of the game to get the win.
The Mustangs led 29-28 at halftime when Geiman beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer, but the Crusaders led 40-34 after three.
Down seven, South Western went on a 13-4 run for a 47-44 lead in the waning moments. However, Crusaders’ senior Noelle Cameron, who also had 24 points, canned a pair of jumpers, giving her team the lead for good.