HERSHEY – Carly Forse looked up into the Bishop Canevin cheering section with about 15 seconds left and finally had a sense of relief.
Forse and the Crusaders closed out the team’s first appearance in the state’s biggest high school basketball tournament with a defensive stand to head home to western Pennsylvania with a title.
Forse and Celina DiPietro each had 18 points, and Bishop Canevin held York Catholic without a field goal in the fourth quarter until the game’s waning seconds in a 45-38 win in the opening game of the PIAA’s championship weekend.
“Unbelievable,” Forse said afterward while holding the championship trophy. “I couldn’t think of anything better for my senior year.”
Forse added three steals, while Erin Waskiowiak had a solid all-around game with five points, six assists and seven rebounds for Bishop Canevin (27-4), which trailed 33-28 going in the fourth quarter. Until then, York Catholic forward Morgan Klunk (18 points, seven rebounds) dissected the Crusader defense and capitalized on the foul line (5 of 6).
It all changed in the fourth quarter.
York Catholic (29-3) got sloppy with three turnovers in the final stanza’s opening three minutes. Bishop Canevin stayed patient in half-court sets before pouncing on the Irish mistakes. They held an 18-7 edge on points off turnovers.
Crusaders coach Tim Joyce said he had his team start trapping high ball screens. York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos thought his team was forcing shots.
“Good defense can do that to you. The game was a game of runs,” Bankos said. “We knew they were going to make a run – I just didn’t know when.”
But York Catholic didn’t counter the Crusaders’ last outburst. After looking like the best player on the court for the first three quarters, Klunk didn’t take many shots down the stretch.
Whatever Joyce said in the huddle before the fourth quarter, it worked.
“I think they knew,” he said. “It was do-or-die. It was a tremendous effort.”
Bishop Canevin outscored York Catholic in the fourth 17-5, and DiPietro’s driving layup with about 5:20 left finally putting the WPIAL champs up for good.
Until then, the teams traded runs in a tight game that pitted Bishop Canevin’s crisp offense against York Catholic’s zone defense and the outstanding play of Klunk. Zaenna Echevevarria added seven points, while Hannah Laslo had four points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Spring-Ford 60, Cumberland Valley 45: Spring-Ford used a balanced scoring attack and broke open a tight game with an 11-4 run to open the second half to claim its first Class AAAA championship in a 60-45 win over Cumberland Valley.
Brittany Moore, Sammy Stipa and Sammi Haas each finished with 11 points to pace Spring-Ford (32-2).
Imhotep Charter 54, Archbishop Carroll 45: Brandon Austin scored 25 points and Imhotep Charter built a 10-point lead before holding off a late rally to claim its third straight PIAA title with a 54-45 win over Archbishop Carroll.
The 6-7 Austin’s quickness proved too tough a matchup for the Patriots in the Class AAA final between two Philadelphia heavyweights.
Vaux 83, Johnsonburg 63: Vaux star Rysheed Jordan went to Cougars head coach Jamie Ross in the third quarter of the Class A championship game with Johnsonburg and suggested they switch to a man-to-man defense.
The coach agreed and from that point on Vaux slowly took the air out of underdog Rams’ hopes for an upset over.
Vaux poured in 47 second-half points and limited Johnsonburg to nine field goals.