The Catholic League continues to assert itself against the state’s finest competition.
In the second round of the PIAA basketball tournament Thursday night, March 16 at various locations, seven CL teams competed. Seven were victorious. Friday night, three more teams will try to emulate their league peers.
In girls’ play, CL champion Cardinal O’Hara defeated Central York, 55-35. Neumann-Goretti toppled New Hope-Solebury, 59-36. Archbishop Wood edged Bishop Shanahan, 28-25, and Archbishop Carroll did likewise against Harrisburg, 48-45.
For the boys, Archbishop Ryan survived a 71-66 slugfest versus Central Dauphin East. CL champ Archbishop Wood (80-56 over Mechanicsburg) and Archbishop Carroll (77-41 over Palmyra) enjoyed drama-less triumphs.
Tonight, Neumann-Goretti’s boys take on Holy Redeemer at 6:30 p.m. at Liberty High School. Conwell-Egan’s boys meet Greater Nanticoke, 6:30 at Parkland High School. West Catholic’s girls face Sayre 5 at Hazelton High School.
“At this point of the season, everyone is hyped up and locked in,” said Archbishop Ryan junior swingman Ant Woodards. “It’s an amazing experience of a lifetime.”
Ryan has taken full advantage of its first-ever PIAA opportunity. The Raiders are the only local 6A boys’ team still alive.
“We worked hard for this,” said Woodards. “We deserve it.”
Junior point guard Ryan Devin Vargus concurs.
“It’s been great and exciting,” said Vargus. “Ryan has never made it to states, so we are proud and hoping to keep the momentum going. I think winning and just seeing our school and coaches so proud of us has been great.”
Archbishop Carroll senior Bella Sorrentino works hard on her free throws, and her diligence paid off handsomely.
The first-team All-Catholic drilled four straight free throws in the closing seconds to help turn a loss into a win, thus advancing the Patriots to the quarterfinals.
“I was a bit nervous since the crowd was really loud, but I tried my hardest to concentrate on making those free throws,” said Sorrentino.
Also a standout soccer player who will play that sport at Temple University in the fall, Sorrentino preferred talking about her team’s overall performance rather than her individual contribution.
“We have been getting better over the course of the season, and I feel like our team is peaking right now,” said Sorrentino. “We lost in the first round last year, so that gave us motivation to come back this year and try to win the state title.
“Our coaches have been amazing, and every game we are prepared with a great game plan.”
In Cardinal O’Hara’s victory, the trio of senior Hannah Nihill (18 points), senior Mary Sheehan (14), and junior Maura Hendrixson (13) spearheaded the offense. A 13-2 blitz in the fourth quarter eliminated any nervous last moments.
“Tonight went very well,” said junior Kenzie Gardler, who netted seven points. “We played as a team — sharing the ball, making the next pass and looking for the person making the shots.”
Archbishop Wood needed late heroics from several players to survive a terrific effort by underdog Shanahan. With the score tied at 23-23, junior Katie May made a three-point play with 22 seconds remaining to give the Vikings a 26-23 lead.
After Shanahan freshman Kathryn Greenhut (game-high 11 points) swished two free throws 13 seconds later, Wood senior Cassie Sebold scored two of her team-best 10 points from the free-throw line. With four seconds remaining, Wood senior Shannon May iced the win with a steal.
John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com.