By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
Coaches say many things before a game. Some things stick out more than others.
Before Archbishop Carroll took on Lampeter-Strasburg in the PIAA Class AAA state girls’ basketball championship last Saturday at Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Center, second-year Carroll coach Chuck Creighton emphasized one piece of advice in particular.
“He told us to go and immediately let them know what kind of team we are,” said Carroll senior Kaitlin Cole. “He told us to prove we are the better team right from the beginning.”
So the dutiful Patriots went out and did just that, seizing a 26-15 lead in the first quarter. By halftime, Carroll led by an almost embarrassing 45-19. When it was over, the Patriots had won 68-45.
Nothing like following a coach’s orders.
“He was right,” said Cole. “Why go out and wait? We took it to them from the very beginning. I think they knew what they were up against and we tried to make the most of our last game together. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
With Drexel University-bound senior Hollie Mershon scoring 13 points, eight Patriots reached the box score. As usual, the Shields sisters – products of St. Bernadette School in Drexel Hill – contributed mightily. Erin, a junior who has already committed to play at St. Joseph’s University, scored 13 while Kerri, a senior who will play at Boston College next season, added 12.
Cole, who along with sophomore teammate Jen Carney netted 8 points apiece, described the Patriots’ 31-1 season as storybook.
“When we lost to Cardinal O’Hara (in the regular season), we could have gone either way,” said Cole. “We stayed positive. All of us, especially the ones who have been playing together for four years, knew we were capable of achieving something very big.”
By the time the Catholic League playoffs rolled around, a three-team logjam among Carroll, O’Hara and Archbishop Wood for first place was decided by a coin flip. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Wood won the toss, which set up an eventual semifinal match-up with rival O’Hara.
Undaunted, the Patriots defeated the Lions to reach the final, where they also topped Archbishop Wood to win their second title in the past four years.
Then came a march through districts which ended in another title. Then states, including a scary semifinal victory over upset-minded Trinity.
So, Cole was asked, if you had to rank those four huge wins …
“Now that’s kind of tough,” said Cole, a member of St. Kevin Parish in Springfield, Delaware County, and a graduate of the School of the Holy Child in Drexel Hill. “Well, the state win has to be first, for a lot of reasons.
“Then I’d say the O’Hara win in the semis because of how great our rivalry has been with them over the years; then the Catholic League championship; then the district championship.”
Quite a resume.
“It was an unbelievable season,” said the aforementioned Kerri Shields. “The way everyone came together and got better and better, and for it to end this way, especially in our senior year, it really was unbelievable.”
Not quite. It really happened. Just ask Lampeter-Strasburg.
John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com.