York Catholic’s Deanna Chesko looks for an open teammate as she drives against Bishop Canevin’s Johni Olkosky during the first half of
York Catholic's Deanna Chesko looks for an open teammate as she drives against Bishop Canevin's Johni Olkosky during the first half of Friday's PIAA Class AA girls' basketball championship game at Giant Center. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Chris Dunn)

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HERSHEY - Carly Forse snuck past York Catholic defenders throughout Friday afternoon's PIAA Class AA girls' basketball title game, but coach Kevin Bankos made sure he caught her in the Giant Center hallway.

"Enjoy that. You especially," Bankos said to Forse after she led Bishop Canevin to a 45-38 win against his Fighting Irish. "I'm going to lose sleep over you."

Forse scored 18 points, including two baskets in the fourth quarter to swing momentum the Crusaders' way and deny York Catholic (29-3) a state championship in another run to Pennsylvania's climactic stage.

Bankos had been here before. Forse had not.

Friday's game was Bishop Canevin's first trip to the PIAA championship, and it came after beating a foe, Seton-LaSalle, which denied York Catholic the title last season. The Pittsburgh-area school looked new to the big stage when it entered Hershey's Giant Center, where the state championships returned after six years at Penn State.

While York Catholic players took pictures, laughed and enjoyed the moment of the school's seventh PIAA title game in eight seasons, Bishop Canevin's players mostly stood around until time came for their pre-game warmups.

Once the game tipped off, however, those sluggish bodies became anything but that.

The Crusaders (27-4) scored on their first possession with a Celina DiPietro 3-pointer. While York Catholic had an advantage in height with 6-foot-2 Hannah Laslo against no opponent taller than 5-11, the Crusaders had speed. Forse exhibited it more than anyone, continuously attacking from the baseline and scoring.

The teams traded baskets until Bishop Canevin jumped out to a seven-point, second-quarter lead. A feeling the Irish were destined for a loss similar to last season's 71-47 defeat against Seton-LaSalle was quickly brushed aside. They answered with their own eight-point run, fueled by junior guard Zaenna Echevarria.

York Catholic’s Morgan Klunk holds the PIAA Class AA runner-up trophy while watching Bishop Canevin players receive their championship trophy on
York Catholic's Morgan Klunk holds the PIAA Class AA runner-up trophy while watching Bishop Canevin players receive their championship trophy on Friday at Giant Center. York Catholic lost, 45-38. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Chris Dunn)
 Just as she did in the Irish's semifinal win against Saint Basil Academy, Echevarria pulled up for jump shots when she had room. In this stretch, she scored six of her seven points to give the Irish the lead before entering halftime with another tie.

Bankos thought runs ultimately dictated this game, and it became that with the second quarter. By the third, the Irish led by as many as six points. They went into the fourth quarter up by five, 33-28, but went cold the rest of the way.

"We thought we had the momentum going," Echevarria said.

They did not.

York Catholic's offense sputtered. Bishop Canevin, meanwhile, was precise in its execution and swiftly retook the lead behind DiPietro. The Crusaders senior complemented Forse's attacking spark with her outside shooting. The duo combined for 36 of their team's 45 points and, just as DiPietro opened the state championship with a 3-pointer, she opened the fourth with another. She finished with four of them for 18 points and gave Bishop Canevin the lead for good on a runner in the lane with 5:21 left.

The performance amounted to an 11-0 run that ended York Catholic's chance to win its first state title since 2008.

The Irish didn't score in the fourth quarter until Deanna Chesko's free throws with 1:10 left. By that time, a five-point lead became a deficit of eight.

Senior Morgan Klunk said, defensively for her Irish, Bishop Canevin broke past their traps at midcourt to get clear looks at the basket. Klunk played her final high school game Friday and, when she emerged from the locker room having experienced a loss for the first time since early February, there were no tears. Hardly even any sign of them.

"I thought we had a good chance," she said. "In this game, we were kind of the underdog and we liked that aspect. I'm not disappointed with second place because they were a good team, and I think we played our hardest."

Klunk, as she did so many times her senior season, led her team in scoring. She finished with 18 to match her Bishop Canevin counterparts.

"I told her at the end of the game it was an extreme pleasure to coach her," Bankos said. "You don't get many kids to come along that play that hard, work that hard, have the emotion of the game pounded in them that hard.

"I think she showed everybody why she is what she is."

And that is someone headed to Bloomsburg on a scholarship after two state championship game appearances.

YORK CATHOLIC (38)

Amelia York 1 1-2 3, Deanna Chesko 0 3-4 3, Morgan Klunk 6 5-6 18, Hannah Laslo 2 0-0 4, Marissa Ressler 0 0-0 0, Katie McNamara 0 0-0 0, Emma Keffer 0 0-0 0, Anne Lehr 0 0-0 0, Cymone Jones 0 0-0 0, Japriya Carroll 0 0-0 0, Courtney Demonda 1 0-0 3. Totals 13 10-14 38.

BISHOP CANEVIN (45)

Carly Forse 9 0-0 18, Erin Waskowiak 2 1-2 5, Celina DiPietro 6 2-2 18, Gina Vallecorsa 0 1-2 1, Johnie Olkosky 1 0-1 3, Alaina McGuire 0 0-0 0, Caroline DeFrank 0 0-0 0, Erin Joyce 0 0-0 0, Natasha Rajakovich 0 0-0 0, Riley O'Donnell 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 4-7 45.

York Catholic 9-12-12-5 - 38

Bishop Canevin 9-12-7-17 - 45

3-point goals - York Catholic 2 (Klunk, Demonda); Bishop Canevin 5 (DiPietra 4, Olkosky).

York Catholic pregame coverage

  • Replay Friday's live coverage of the PIAA Class AA championship game.

  • Pregame notes from York Catholic vs. Bishop Canevin

  • Video Matt Goul and Steve Navaroli break down today's game from the Giant Center floor.

    More coverage

  • A look back: York Catholic's trips to the PIAA title game.

  • YAIAA and York County teams that have won state titles.

  • YAIAA athletes who have won individual state titles.