York Catholic rides huge second-half rally into state semis
READING – Once they felt comfortable in the second half, York Catholic's players were right at home.
The Irish rebounded from a sluggish and uncharacteristic first half and rallied to shut down and stun previously unbeaten St. Basil, 40-31 in a PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal state playoff game Sunday afternoon at Santander Arena.
With the win, York Catholic (24-6) moves to the state semifinals Tuesday against the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal between Neumann-Goretti and Holy Redeemer at a site yet to be determined.
For the first 16 minutes, the Irish couldn’t get into any offensive flow and went scoreless in the first quarter (0-for-10 shooting). They trailed 20-9 at the half. They also didn’t appear to have any solutions to stopping 6-foot-3 Lafayette recruit Natalie Kucowksi, who wheeled down low with 11 of her team’s first 20 points.
But York Catholic’s Kate Bauhof, who was scoreless in the opening half, had all of her game-high 19 points after halftime. She hit a pair of jumpers in the early going to ignite a 16-5 spurt capped by another jumper that tied the game at 25 with 3:30 left in the third.
Bauhof’s pair of free throws with just under three minutes left in the fourth sealed the game, as St. Basil managed just nine points in the final two quarters. The junior, who was eight for nine from the line, was chased by St. Basil defenders throughout the game and spent considerable time picking herself up off the floor. The Panthers (29-1) were in the penalty and eventual double bonus over the final three minutes.
However, for Bauhof and her teammates, it was well worth a trip to the PIAA version of the Final Four.
“At halftime, we talked about what we needed to do,” Bauhof said. “Once we broke the huddle, we were more confident to start the second half. We knew we had to go out there and work harder than we did in the first half. They seemed to make all of their shots in the first half, but once we started scoring and picking up the pace, things started to change.
“We’re just so excited to get to the next round because we are the closest of friends and having been playing together for a while. A lot of people didn’t think we would beat them because they were undefeated. To win here and go to the Final Four is great.”
“I think it was just nerves at the beginning for us, playing an undefeated team,” added sophomore Katy Rader, who had four points and seven rebounds. “We were more settled in the second half. This is crazy. I always dreamt going to a Final Four as a kid.”
Head coach Kevin Bankos has been to the Final Four in the past, but he will cherish this trip.
"It wasn’t the miracle on ice, but it was pretty darn good. I think we were nervous in the first half and they took us out of our game,” Bankos said. “We told them at halftime that they were down by 11, not 30. We started to chip away at it at the start (of the third quarter) and spread the floor more. We’re a pretty good foul-shooting team, so once we got there we pretty comfortable
“They (Final Four trips) were all special, but this one is extremely special. We haven’t seen them play up to their ability yet. We’ll hopefully put it all together soon. But anytime you get to a Final Four, it is a wonderful thing.”
The Irish were the fourth York County team to wage a furious comeback in the second half of their PIAA quarterfinal matchup. On Saturday, the Northeastern boys rallied for a double-overtime thriller, the Susquehannock girls ran away with their game in the second half, and the York Country Day boys rallied to force overtime before falling.