No rebuild for York Catholic dynasty (column)
The York Catholic girls' basketball team never seems to suffer through a rebuilding year. This year the team appears to be ready for another run, despite the fact the Irish only have one senior on the roster. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
The man behind the curtain is laughing.
The wizard shakes his head and chuckles. He doesn't think that way.
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After a decade spent winning District 3 titles, York Catholic girls' basketball missed out last season.
And looking at this year's roster, the Irish have just one senior.
Hmm ... could this be the year for a rebuild?
The Irish return to YAIAA Division III, where they tied with Delone Catholic for the regular-season crown a year ago.
Uh huh ... .
And remember, Delone could return stronger in 2016-17 after playing well despite losing a post player and senior guard to knee injuries last December.
Well, now ... .
But before talking about a rebuild, try to remember how the Irish run their shop. They rotate a lot of players into the game, every ... single ... season. They have never been a typical small-school program in that regard. They don't rely on five seniors one year and then look to the youngsters for the next three seasons. Every player on the roster could be an option.
Last year was no different.
"We played a lot of kids all year long last year, so we know what's coming up," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said.
A freshman guard might look nervous handling the ball late in the game in Year 1. But by Year 2, she's over it. Emotions no longer rule the day when a sophomore has already seen the worst a team can throw at her, especially considering she's come back stronger, older and more confident.
And even though the Irish didn't win the District 3 title last season, the team still reached the second round of the state tournament.
"I think that's part of the reason you don't see the dropoff," Bankos said. "When you get to go deep into state tournaments and get to the Giant Center the number of years we have, the kids are not mesmerized by being there.
"A lot of these kids aren't mesmerized by big games, they're used to that atmosphere."
If anyone thought the Irish might need a season to regroup, deep six that silly notion.
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If any team feels cocky about their chances against the Irish, don't forget about Kate Bauhof.
The Irish star is just a junior. An all-state player, she's been the focal point of the Irish offense for the last two years.
The bad news for everyone outside York Catholic is the Irish have a deep roster. And while they are young, they are also experienced.
"This year we have so many new girls, and it's been great," Bauhof said. "We're so close already."
The team has chemistry, and it has some more offensive threats. Sophomore Gina Citrone, post player Abigail Pilkey, junior guard Catherine Tillotson, inside/outside threat Kathryn Rader and senior Kara Duchek are all threats to knock down pressure-packed shots.
And, don't forget, there's also Bauhof to worry about.
"The difference this year is if you're going to go ahead and double-team Kate there are some other kids that can step up," Bankos said.
But the best perspective on the Irish might come from Pilkey, a first-year player for York Catholic.
"Over the summer, open gyms is the first time I experienced (Irish basketball)," Pilkey said. "The first thing I noticed is how much we run and how much we get in shape before the season.
"The level of play, even though we have a lot of young girls, they're so calm and collected. They know what they're doing."
And that should be bad news for anyone facing off against the Irish.