The Irish fell behind midway through the first quarter in its District 3 Class AA quarterfinal against Columbia, which then survived a shaky final quarter to emerge with a 77-69 win at Columbia High School.
"We went to a 1-3-1 trap and that helped," York Catholic coach Joe Keesey said. "We just fouled them too much and didn't get enough big stops."
Fourth-seeded Columbia (11-12) advances to the Class AA semifinals, where it plays Trinity on Wednesday at Giant Center in Hershey while No. 5-seed York Catholic (10-13) ends its season.
"For three and a half quarters we played pretty well," Columbia coach Mark Wisler said. "But we made some careless mistakes and were not making good decisions with the ball down the stretch."
York Catholic staged a furious comeback attempt in the game's final minutes. The Irish were down by 18 points with 5:56 remaining after two free throws from Columbia senior forward Will Kreiser.
The Irish got 3-pointers from senior forward Joseph Rost and 6-foot-2 junior Matt McKim in a burst of points over the ensuing 2 1/2 minutes and closed the gap to 65-57 on a short baseline jumper by senior James Daugherty with 2:58 left.
"They are a fundamentally sound team," Wisler said. "We knew they had a few options on offense. There is no one guy to concentrate on. They all can burn you. They have five or six guys who can put the ball in the basket.
"Defensively, they really got into us. More so than most of the teams we have played this season. They were very aggressive."
York Catholic got to within seven points as a short jumper off an offensive rebound by Daugherty made the score 71-64 with 1:09 left, but Columbia managed to convert on 6-of-8 free throws from that point to survive the rally.
"We did it right," Wisler said. "We managed to get layups or get fouled against their pressure, but made a few really casual passes crosscourt. (6-4 junior forward Erich Hartman) being on the point with those long arms really makes a big difference for them."
Columbia padded a 32-24 halftime lead in the third quarter behind the 3-point shooting of junior guard Mike Rider, who sank one from the left corner and one from the right midway through the quarter to help extend the lead to 49-36 entering the fourth quarter.
"Rider is a good shooter for us," Wisler said. "Usually the corner shots are the toughest to make, but he made some big ones."
Rider, who connected on four 3-pointers in the game, was assisted by senior guard Nick Nobile, who added a trey from the left corner as part of his seven third-quarter points.
"Nick broke his wrist in football and was out until Christmas," Wisler said. "He didn't get into the swing of things until the latter part of the year.
"We like to get up and down a bit. The halfcourt game is not our strength. Most of the time, if we can push the ball up and down the court, it plays into our hands. Nick is a part of that as the point guard."
The Crimson Tide opened the game a little slow as York Catholic jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but suddenly caught fire as they scored 16 unanswered points to forge an 18-6 lead after one quarter. Columbia shot 8-of-9 from the field in the opening period while York Catholic was 2-of-9.
"That sounds right to me," Keesey said. "That is what it looked like to me too. They made their shots. We had poor shot selection in the first quarter but did a better job in the second quarter.
"We saw them on film twice. We knew they were quick. They have some quick guards. We had a hard time containing them. They played well."
Rost finished with a team-high 15 points for York Catholic while McKim, Hartman and senior guard Adam Hack added 11 points each. Columbia got a game-high 20 points from Nobile, 19 points from junior guard Olajuwon Michael and 18 points from Rider.
"I'm happy with how we played," Keesey said. "We played really hard. This is a good group. We didn't always win but we worked hard. We are losing seven seniors, so we're going to be pretty young next year."
YORK CATHOLIC (69)
O'Brien 3 1-1 7, Joseph Rost 5 5-8 15, Matt McKim 5 0-1 11, Erich Hartman 4 3-9 11, Dougherty 3 0-0 6, Williams 1 0-0 3, Adam Hack 3 4-4 11, Devlin 1 0-0 3. Totals25 13-23 69.
Nick Nobile 7 5-8 20, Mike Rider 7 0-0 18, Olajuwon Michael 9 1-8 19, Wansley 2 4-5 8, Moore 1 0-0 2, Kreiser 1 6-6 8, Helton 0 2-2 2. Totals27 18-29 77.
York Catholic 6 18 12 33 -- 69
Columbia 18 14 17 28 -- 77
3-point goals -- York Catholic 6 (Rost 2, McKim, Williams, Hack, Devlin); Columbia 5 (Nobile, Rider 4).