MILLERSVILLE -- For the first time in two games of the District 3 Class AA girls' basketball tournament, York Catholic suffered a defensive let-down.
The Fighting Irish left Annville-Cleona shooters open a few times in the third quarter and the Dutchmen managed to hit on a couple of those shots.
Still, coach Kevin Bankos knows shutdown defense is rare for an entire 32 minutes, especially after his team scored the first 16 points of a game, in which 25-point leads were common.
It wasn't much of a lapse, mind you. Just enough for Bankos to have something to work on as his team prepares for another matchup with Delone Catholic in Thursday's district title game.
York Catholic earned its spot in the final behind a 67-41 win over Annville-Cleona in the first of two played at Penn Manor High School.
The Irish improved to 24-2 and will try for their eighth straight district title and third victory over the Squirettes this season. Delone (19-6) knocked off Oley Valley, 73-72, in overtime in Monday's nightcap.
The AA championship game is slated for 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Giant Center.
"We are not going to press for a whole game and that is something that disrupts what we do," Bankos said. "Our help defense was not very good tonight. All-in-all, the defense is going to have to get better."
York Catholic showed plenty of defense during the first five minutes of the semifinal, forcing five turnovers and not allowing a point until a jumper with 3:18 to play in the first quarter. By then, the Irish already had 16 points and finished the quarter with a 20-8 lead.
Hannah Laslo scored eight of her game-high 20 points, Morgan Klunk added four of her 17 and every starter scored during the first eight minutes.
Laslo notched eight more points in the second, Klunk had six and York Catholic opened a 36-14 halftime lead.
"I know if I throw it to her, she is going to get it every time," Irish point guard Zaenna Echevarria said of Laslo. "She does such a good job getting open, especially under the basket and it's just there."
"(Laslo's) confidence is very high and we need it to be very high," Bankos said. "When you put kids in the position they are comfortable in and they start to believe it, then you have a dangerous combination. We obviously believed in her the whole time, it's more important that she believe it. She has worked hard in practice, she is healthy."
Echevarria had eight points and earned the coach's praise for her deft passing, including two beautiful assists during the opening 16-0 run.
"Her passing is some of the best I have seen at this level," Bankos said. "Sometimes when the ball goes out of bounds or we don't catch it, it's not her pass, it's we typically weren't ready for it."
York Catholic started the second half with six straight, forging a 42-14 lead, but the Dutchmen (15-10) finally responded with 15 points in the quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
The third period is something Echevarria said the team will likely be reminded of before Thursday.
"We could have done a better job. It will all clear up. We will have to practice it," she said. "(Bankos) always finds room to improve -- which is good
Alex Siebecker 5 0-2 12, B. Inman 0 0-0 0, Elana Wannamaker 4 2-2 11, Reigle 0 0-0 0, Fischler 0 0-0 0, Bachman 2 0-0 4, Parks 4 0-0 9, Winters 0 0-0 0, Battle 2 1-2 5. Totals 17 3-6 41.
YORK CATHOLIC (67)
Lehr 0 0-0 0, York 3 0-0 6, McNamara 1 2-2 4, Jones 0 2-2 2, Chesko 3 0-0 6, Ressler 1 0-0 2, Morgan Klunk 6 4-4 17, Demonda 1 0-0 2, Echevarria 4 0-0 8, Hannah Laslo 10 0-1 20. Totals 29 8-9 67.
Annville-Cleona 8 6 15 12 -- 41
York Catholic 20 16 12 19 -- 67
3-point goals -- Annville-Cleona 4 (Siebecker 2, Wanamaker, Parks); York Catholic 1 (Klunk).