After opening a 9-0 lead to begin Saturday night’s PIAA Class 5A state championship against Trinity High School at the Giant Center, Archbishop Wood seemed like a lock to successfully defend its state crown.
Not so fast.
Trinity did not go away silently, hanging around just enough to make the final quarter a tad uncomfortable. But if there is one thing the Vikings do well is win ugly, and win ugly they did, a 34-26 victory that improved their four-year ledger to the following:
Four trips to the state championship and two titles. Four jaunts to the Catholic League final, and one league crown. Oh, and four District 12 trophies.
Other than that …
Senior Cassie Sebold, who scored a team-high 12 points and drilled a huge three-point shot midway through the fourth quarter to stem a dangerous tide, has been one of Wood’s most important go-to players throughout her career. She will leave behind a close-knit team like no other.
“It’s the most amazing feeling,” said Sebold. “This is our last everything. Our last time playing together, our last time with our jerseys on, last time taking our shoes off. It’s crazy to think these amazing four years are over, but I wouldn’t want my last year to go any other way.”
Another standout senior, Shannon May, said it will be “weird” not practicing with her teammates. But she will have “unbelievable” memories to sustain her, including the Vikings’ shut-down defense against a potent Trinity lineup.
“I think the difference in the game was our defense,” said May. “Whenever we have trouble scoring, we can always rely on our defense. We play hard, and we always want to win so bad, and that’s why our defense is so great. You don’t have to be talented to play defense. You just have to play your hardest, and we always do that.”
May’s younger sister, junior Katie May, shrugged off foul trouble and posted an outstanding statistic line of seven blocked shots, seven rebounds, five assists and five points. She scored all of them from the free-thrown line in crunch time, a fourth quarter that saw Trinity (26-4 overall) skulk to within 19-17. In typical style, the Vikings (24-7) bore down the rest of the way.
Sophomore Mia Andrews fired home two important three-point shots, and junior Bridget Arcidiacono provided six points. Sebold’s dozen points included a perfect six of six from the charity stripe, from where the Vikings hit 12 of 14.
Wood coach Mike McDonald was asked what he will recall most about this year’s team that was able to overcome the disappointment of losing to Cardinal O’Hara in the Catholic League championship last month.
“I will remember the seniors’ faces hoisting up the trophy,” said McDonald. “Knowing how hard they worked and getting to see their faces after winning is extremely rewarding.”
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @johnknebels.