There was only one District 3 girls team left in the 3A PIAA title tournament and York-Adams League Delone Catholic made the most of their chance.
They beat the undefeated District 2 champion Dunmore Lady Bucks by a score or 46-43. Dunmore had only given up 27 points to any team all year.
Delone played their best game of the season on the biggest stage. Led by Brooke Lawyer who shot 50% from 3-point range to nail 4 treys and lead all scoring with 20 points.
Senior Bradi Zumbrum added 11 points. The Squirettes took the lead early and never looked back at Hershey’s Giant Center.
Much of the credit for the team’s preparedness goes to Eckenrode, who burned the midnight oil every night since the team’s victory Monday in the state semifinals to get ready for an unbeaten team that was the consensus No. 1 team in 3-A.
“I watched them on tape and I just felt like nobody really went after them,” Eckenrode said. “We came up here with a game plan to pressure the ball, make them make their entry passes from the outside and we did a good job of that.”
Lawyer was the York-Adams League Division III division player of the year, and she showed why. In addition to her 20 points, she was 5 for 6 at the foul line. Both Lawyer and Zumbrum had six rebounds.
Delone also kept dunmore off the offensive rebounding boards. They only had one and not until the fourth quarter.
The Delone girls were able to stretch the lead to double digits midway through the second quarter when the Bucks were battling through their own shooting woes. The Squirettes were able to finish the first half on a 15-1 run to take a 27-12 lead into the locker room.
Just as they have done all during their PIAA playoff run, however, the Delone girls were able to close things out with solid passing, clutch free throw shooting and relatively error-free ball.
Freshmen excel: Major kudos were dished out by Zumbrum and Lawyer to the team’s talented freshmen, such as Camryn Felix and Giana Hoddinott. Hoddinott (seven points) blanketed Murray throughout the night, while Felix (eight points) was a primary ball handler against Dunmore’s pressure. Felix also knocked down 5 of 6 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
No. 4 for head coach Gerry Eckenrode: Eckenrode, meanwhile, has coached well, according to Zumbrum. While the Delone boss is certainly an “old-school” type, he’s adapted to his players enough to earn a high mark from Zumbrum.
“If he wasn’t here, we wouldn’t have won,” Zumbrum said. “It doesn’t matter if we had the five best players in the state. I mean he spends so many sleepless nights just watching film. It’s insane. I mean the man gets all the credit in the world.”
How much of an underdog was Delone?
The Squirettes lost the district championship by 11 points to Trinity and the Shamrocks lost in the state semifinals earlier in the week to Dunmore by over 20.
It’s difficult to compute grit, determination and execution and Delone used all three to deal the Lady Bucks their first loss and secure the fourth state title in program history. The Squirettes raced out to a 27-12 halftime advantage and finished off the 49-43 victory to capture the crown.
Dunmore finished at 29-1. Delone finished at 26-4.