This story is part of the series
York Catholic girls falls in state semifinal
Find out how Bauhof and York Catholic girls basketball prepared for the Sweet Sixteen. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
NEW HOLLAND - The champs made it look easy.
Neumann-Goretti, the two-time defending state champions out of Philadelphia, could do it all. Once it had a big first-half lead, Neumann-Goretti didn't let York Catholic back in the game. The Saints rolled to a 63-42 victory in a PIAA semifinal at Garden Spot High School Tuesday.
Neumann-Goretti returns to the Class 3A state championship game to play Bishop Canevin at noon Saturday at Hershey's Giant Center.
"The kids have really bought into our system," Neumann-Goretti coach Andrea Peterson said. "We were just saying, (all-state guard Chyna Nixon) is the only starter that returns this year. So we have a whole new team going to Hershey. ... They believe because of the tradition we have of getting to the places we get."
Nixon didn't start because of an illness, but it didn't matter.
Up 16-0 to start the game, York Catholic attempted to rally behind Kate Bauhof (19 first-half points). After Goretti held the Irish scoreless for the first 5:44 of the game, York Catholic managed to cut the deficit to single digits, 18-9, late in the first quarter. But a 3-pointer at the buzzer helped bump the Saints' cushion back into comfortable territory.
Goretti (24-6) had a bit of everything. The Saints could play the one-on-one. They could shoot the 3-pointer. They could rebound. They could pass. But, perhaps most importantly, they deviled York Catholic's guards the whole way up the floor.
"Most of this is them, most of this is they are just really darn good," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said about Neumann-Goretti.
Goretti cashed in 12 of its first 30 pints in transition, using 12 York Catholic (23-7) turnovers to keep its offense running in the first half.
York Catholic cut the deficit to 12 with 4:00 left in the third, but the Saints responded once again. Goretti closed the quarter on a 6-2 run.
"They were a really deep team, and they were all just amazing," Bauhof said. "You couldn't just stop one of them, you had to stop five, six, seven of them. They are just an amazing team."
Goretti overcame foul trouble that plagued it almost the entire game, including sending the Irish to the bonus in the first quarter.
"We knew they were going to be a really aggressive team," Bauhof said.
The Saints overcame those issues with their depth and by knocking down shots. Ashley Jones scored a team-high 17 points with Tatiana Jones and Jabria Ingram each added 10 points. Nixon had eight points.
Bauhof finished with a game-high 20 points, and Abby Pilkey added nine points.
The semifinal loss ended a young York Catholic's shot at returning to the state final for the first time since 2012-13. The Irish were looking for their eighth trip (2013-12, '10-06) to the championship game during the last 12 years. The Irish lose just one player, senior Kara Duchek, off their roster to graduation. So the game provided the Irish a chance to look at where they need to improve headed into next year with a loaded roster.
"If they can build on their skills over the summer, they don't need to play 100 games they need to work on their skills," Bankos said. "So if we can work on our skills and then come back with Kate having that (offensive) ability and then three other kids that can score for us, well, then I like our chances to make a good run."