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York Catholic girls hold on in state opener

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York Catholic needed every Kate Bauhof free throw and every Abigail Pilkey post move to pull out a 60-54 victory against Loyalsock in a first-round Class 3A state tournament matchup Saturday at West York.

Loyalsock created headaches for the Irish, with first-year head man Curtis Jacobson calling multiple defensive looks that his young team ran at York Catholic with precision. Even with five sophomores on the floor in the fourth quarter, Loyalsock challenged York Catholic all game long.

"He ran a 3-2 (zone defense), a 1-2-2 and a box-and-one," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said. "Everything we saw on tape he ran."

Forced to go to its bench, York Catholic once again benefited from what has been an annual rite of March for the Irish — a deep bench.

"Katy Rader was sitting on the bench in foul trouble, Jania (Wright) was on the bench in foul trouble, but that's what is so good about this team that not everyone recognizes," Bankos said. "We are seven or eight deep, and with two starters on the bench we can still beat quality teams.

"Everybody knows their role, and when they all accept it we're dangerous."

Pilkey came up big with three first-half blocks, and then she knocked down 10 of her 16 points in the second half.

"We have all the comfort in the world in her," Bankos said. "I don't need to think she's a good player, I know she's a good player."

After a back-and-forth third quarter, with four lead changes, York Catholic remained in a struggle with the District 4 third-place team until the final minute.

But in crunch time, the Irish still had its all-state guard. Bauhof managed to provide some breathing room midway through the fourth. After two lead changes and a tie in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Bauhof drove the lane and went to the line to complete a 3-point play with 5:17 to play. That play seemed to signal a change in play, and it provided York Catholic with a six-point cushion.

The Irish coaching staff kept updating its players on how many fouls Loyalsock committed, and when the Irish moved into the bonus — getting into a one-and-one free throw situation — York Catholic brought the ball out and made Loyalsock run a man defense.

"When we go against man-to-man, I like our chances with (Bauhof) against anybody," Bankos said. "And she sees it and recognizes it."

Held to two field goals in the first half, she scored 16 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Still, Loyalsock would not fade. The Lancers' Maddie Fox, one of those sophomores, scored a team-high 16 points. But the important thing for the Irish is they advance.

York Catholic (21-6) plays Pine Grove Wednesday in the second round of the tournament at a site and time to be determined.

"This isn't the time of year where you go through each play in the game because the next game will be different," Bankos said. "This tournament is five games, every game will be an individual championship. There are things we want to tighten up — baseline drives, switching on defense — but for the part we will move on to the next opponent."