In the end, the mentor had a little something left for his former assistant.
York Catholic girls' basketball coach Kevin Bankos played his final card in the closing seconds of Friday's game and it proved to be just enough for the Irish to slip past Eastern York, and former York Catholic assistant coach Cheryl Land, by a 38-37 score at Eastern York High School.
"We knew they were going to be tough on their home floor," said seventh-year coach Kevin Bankos. "Like (Delone Catholic coach) Gerry Eckenrode said in the paper the other day, Eastern is going to be better than what they have shown. We didn't play very intelligent, and I'm sure coach Land is in their locker room saying the same thing, but we survived."
With 5.5 seconds remaining and the Irish (1-1) ahead by one, Bankos instructed his players to use up the three remaining team fouls they had each time Eastern York inbounded the ball at midcourt. The fouls burned 3.2 seconds off the clock and gave the Golden Knights only one quick shot, which turned out to be an air ball from the top of the key as time expired.
"We talked about it the timeout before (Eastern took with 24 seconds left)," Bankos said. "We had fouls to give. We reiterated it during the last time out. Let them get the ball in and foul. It worked out. That is our job as a coaching staff. We were on that. We tell the girls, 'We'll do our part if you do your part' and
The lead changed hands four times in the final quarter, with York Catholic finally taking it for good with 24 seconds left on a free throw by 6-foot-1 sophomore Hannah Laslo.
"I thought we let it get away in the third quarter," said Land, who had been an assistant coach at York Catholic the past six years. "We forced some things and were not patient on offense. We played hard, but Kevin had just a little more leverage at the end of the game with the fouls to give."
Eastern York (1-3) surged out of the gate, scoring the first six points of the game behind two layups by 5-3 senior Krissy Pennell and a short, turnaround bank shot from 5-10 junior forward Morgan Thomas. The Knights led by two points after the first quarter and were ahead 21-16 at halftime as Pennell scored seven of her team-high 13 points in that span. Thomas scored seven of her 10 points in the opening half.
"I can't be too upset on defense," Bankos said. "Eastern has some great players. (Senior center) Liz Myers and Morgan Thomas are just tough to guard. They wear you down."
York Catholic struggled from the start, missing its first six shots of the game and not getting on the scoreboard until senior Morgan Klunk sank a 3-pointer with 3:54 left in the opening quarter. The Irish committed three turnovers in the first two minutes on their way to 10 first-half turnovers combined with 7-for-27 shooting from the field.
York Catholic trailed by as many as seven points in the second quarter.
"The first quarter was just dreadful shooting," Bankos said. "We couldn't even throw it in the ocean. There were some good shots, but they didn't fall. And you can't have almost as many turnovers as points against good teams."
The Irish finally claimed the lead for the first time with two minutes left in the third quarter on a Klunk basket, but two free throws and a bucket from Eastern York junior forward Lauren Beaver gave the Knights a three-point advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
The 5-11 Klunk lead all scorers in the game with 15 points, including two 3-point buckets, while 5-9 junior Zaenna Echevarria chipped in with 10 points for York Catholic.
"We are definitely going to need to get better if we are going to compete for anything this year," said Bankos, who has guided York Catholic to six PIAA Class AA championship games in his tenure. "Intelligence, taking care of the basketball and other things at both ends of the floor."
YORK CATHOLIC (38)
Morgan Klunk 6 1-3 15, Zaenna Echevarria 4 1-2 10, Deanna Chesko 2 0-0 4, Marissa Ressler 1 0-1 2, Hannah Laslo 3 1-4 7, Courtney Demonda 0 0-0 0, Katie McNamara 0 0-0 0, Amelia York 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 3-10 38.
EASTERN YORK (37)
Krissy Pennell 5 0-0 13, Morgan Thomas 4 1-2 10, Lauren Beaver 2 2-2 6, Erin Kalke 1 0-0 3, Elizabeth Myers 2 1-4 5, Leah Myers 0 0-0 0, Ashley Dietz 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 4-8 37.
York Catholic 9 7 9 13 -- 38
Eastern York 11 10 7 9 -- 37
3-point goals -- York Catholic (Klunk 2, Echevarria); Eastern York (Pennell 3, Thomas, Kalke).