Friday, August 12, 2022

Delone Catholic Cruises by Crusaders to Win District Championship

If you are playing Delone Catholic in basketball in March, you can bank on several things being true.

You most likely will be playing for a championship, whether it be a District 3 or PIAA state title. You can count on facing defensive pressure at an intensity unseen all year. How you handle the smothering man-to-man, full-court pressure and half court trapping game will determine your fate.

In the District 3 Class 4A girls’ championship game played at Delone Catholic on March 12, the Squirettes held the Crusaders of Lancaster Catholic to just 33 points en route to winning another district title – last year they won the 3A championship before moving up a classification this year, which meant Delone had to beat Lancaster Catholic to win the gold medals.

Maggie Hughes celebrates another District championship for the Black and Gold.
Maggie Hughes celebrates another District championship for the Black and Gold.

“This never gets old,” Coach Gerry Eckenrode said after the game. “We are in a good spot now to make a run. With Covid and everything, the girls have been through a lot. I got a resilient group; they are very unselfish and play well together. Just a total pleasure to coach.”

Lancaster Catholic never did handle Delone’s swarming athletic defense well enough to stay close. To be fair, the Crusaders’ guards are freshman seemingly not used to playing a team that arguably plays defense better than any program in the state. The Squirettes force you to dribble the ball where they want – pick up your dribble – and the swarming trap forces turnovers that turns into easy transition points. And then they set up the press again and rinse you again with relentless pressure on the guards.

It’s a formula of success that has worked well for 20-plus years and has amassed more than 500 wins now for Coach Eckenrode at the Adams County school.

“This was satisfying to get the win at home” Coach Eckenrode said. “It’s not the Giant Center, but we will take it, especially against a quality opponent like Lancaster Catholic.”

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

Junior Naomi Zulueta is the Crusaders’ best defender and offensive threat.
Junior Naomi Zulueta is the Crusaders’ best defender and offensive threat.
Delone Catholic’s Marissa Miller greets Abigail Jacoby during introductions. The Squirettes’ roster has no seniors.
Delone Catholic’s Marissa Miller greets Abigail Jacoby during introductions. The Squirettes’ roster has no seniors.
Lancaster Catholic’s Mary Bolesky, freshman, has little room to shoot against Delone’s tenacious defense.
Lancaster Catholic’s Mary Bolesky, freshman, has little room to shoot against Delone’s tenacious defense.
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