HERSHEY >>York Catholic head coach Kevin Bankos has a running joke with junior Anne Lehr that if she is going to be his point guard, then she is going to have to put up with Bankos demanding a lot from her.
Lehr did plenty for Bankos and the Irish on Thursday as she helped lead York Catholic to a 50-40 victory over Delone Catholic in the District 3 Class AA Championship at Giant Center. The championship is York Catholic's ninth straight district title.
"This feels like the first one," Bankos said. "That's what we told the girls. It is theirs. The nine, the streak, that's all great for someday, today isn't that day. Today is about these girls and these seniors and this team."
Lehr scored the first five of her 15 points in the Irish's first two possessions to give York Catholic an early 5-0 lead. Lehr then teamed up with Deanna Chesko to play lock-down defense on Delone Catholic leading scorer Maddie Comly, limiting her to two points through the first three quarters.
"I think that we really leaned on each other much more," Lehr said. "We knew, if someone got screened, that we would switch and just keep her in front of us. We didn't have one person play her the whole game like we did in the past."
Thursday marked the third time this season the two teams have squared off, splitting the first two games. In the first match-up Comly scored 18 points, and in the second game she scored 27.
In the rubber match, the Irish defense limited her to 13 but shut her out for over 26 minutes in between her first and second baskets.
"(Lehr and Chesko) really wanted to player her in the first half," Bankos said. "We felt if we played her man-to-man in the first half and kept her in check, then she wouldn't do too much damage in the second half.
"After the first half I told them both they just played probably the best guard in the league by far and held her to two points. That was the good news. The bad news was they had a whole second half and we all know what she is capable of."
While the Squirettes were struggling to find offense, the Irish were taking advantage of the height difference inside with 6-foot-1 senior Hannah Laslo.
Laslo, who finished the first half with 10 points, helped York Catholic take a 25-18 lead into the locker room.
"I think we felt that we certainly had an advantage inside," Bankos said. "It starts with our guards. That freed up Hannah. When Hannah is freed up in the middle, she knows how to finish."
In addition to Comly's struggles offensively, the Irish also limited Mary Gingrow to six points as the two combined to go 3-for-17 in the half.
The second half started much like the game did, sloppy at first until York Catholic settled in. Offensively, Delone continued to struggle finding scoring but stayed in the game thanks to Gingrow scoring all seven of the Squirettes' points.
In the fourth quarter, Comly's shot started to fall, and she helped lead the Squirettes to within three. But York Catholic made 13-of-16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to finish off Delone.
"I constantly remind every team that comes through here that you can win or lose a game at the foul line, and we don't ever want to lose a game that way," Bankos said.
Laslo finished with a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Irish out-rebounded Delone, 36-32.
Comly and Gingrow finished with 13 points each, and Gingrow had 10 boards.
"Tonight our shooting percentage was bad," Delone Catholic head coach Gerry Eckenrode said. "To me, the difference in the game was shooting percentage. They shot better than we did and they won. I thought our kids played hard, gave everything they could, but the shots just didn't go."
"Obviously tonight wasn't Maddie's best game, but that is when you need someone else to step up and take the load away from her. She finished strong but just couldn't get herself going the first three quarters. At that point in time when one of the others see you struggling, they gotta step up. Maddie can't be a one-person team. She can't do it. It is not fair to her."
For the Irish, celebrating number nine is just as sweet.
"Nine in a row is a great feeling," Lehr said. "I have been looking up to the York Catholic girls' basketball team since I was a little kid. It's just great to know that I added another medal into that dynasty."
DELONE CATHOLIC (40)
Maddie Comly 5 2-4 13, Mary Gingrow 4 4-4 13, Wilson 3 2-2 8, Novak 0 0-0 0, Shipley 1 0-0 2, K. Laughman 0 0-0 0, Knobloch 1 2-2 4, D. Laughman 0 0-0 0.
Totals — 14 10-12 40.
YORK CATHOLIC (50)
Anne Lehr 4 6-8 15, Chesko 1 2-2 4, Ressler 2 3-4 7, Echevarria 1 2-2 4, Hannah Laslo 7 4-5 17, DeMonda 0 1-2 1, Carroll 1 0-0 2.
Totals — 16 17-22 50.
3-point goals — DC 2 (Comly, Gingrow), YC 1 (Lehr).