PCL girls’ basketball
By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
At one point during the season, Cardinal O’Hara’s girls’ basketball team woke up one morning and was ranked first in the nation. A few miles away, Archbishop Carroll’s girls took notice but went about their business in workmanlike fashion.
Then a few days later, O’Hara was shocked by Archbishop Wood, and the nation’s top ranking went kaput.
In the Catholic League playoffs, third-seeded Carroll faced both second-seeded O’Hara and top-seeded Wood, although each had entered the post-season with an 11-1 league record. In the semifinals last week, Carroll emerged victorious against league-rival O’Hara after a rugged battle.
In the Catholic League girls’ championship Monday night at the Palestra, Carroll defeated Archbishop Wood, 35-22, in front of a near-capacity audience.
After a spirited victory celebration, many Carroll players echoed the same sentiment: there’s nothing quite like defeating the two teams considered by many to have been the best entering the playoffs.
“We were confident in our abilities to beat both of them, but we weren’t taking anything for granted,” said Carroll star senior and Boston College-bound Kerri Shields, whose overall contribution of eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals didn’t include a statistical measure of sheer hustle and determination. “We knew they were both very good (opponents) and we respected them a lot.”
Wood’s fans might have hoped Carroll would have a let down after the Patriots dispatched defending champion O’Hara. It wasn’t going to happen.
Carroll (24-1), who at 5 p.m. Friday will meet Public League runner-up Prep Charter in a PIAA District 12 tournament at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, have been battling rugged opposition in both league and non-league competition since the opening tap of 2008-09.
However, against the Vikings, the Patriots were unable to break away from a tight margin through the first three quarters. Employing a suffocating, aggressive defense, Carroll gradually separated itself in the final eight minutes and outscored the Vikings 10-3.
“Give them a lot of credit,” said Shields. “They played great defense. We had to stay patient and not force things.”
Shields said sharing the title with her sisters – Erin, a standout junior who has already orally committed to play at St. Joseph’s University and who supplied three steals to the cause; and Shannon, a freshman unable to play after an earlier season-ending knee injury – “made it that much more special.” Each is a product of St. Bernadette School in Drexel Hill.
In winning their fifth league title in 10 years, the Patriots proved that they could win without a slew of players tearing up the score sheet. Hollie Mershon led with 11 points, followed by Shields’ eight.
“This came down to defense,” said second-year Carroll coach Chuck Creighton. “Neither team shot very well but that was because there weren’t many easy shots. It was a hard-fought game.”
The loss was difficult for the Vikings. They had out-rebounded the Patriots and had trailed 15-14 at halftime. But poor shooting from the field (7 for 34), especially from three-point land (0 for 12), provided evidence for their amazingly low point total.
Senior Ashley Robinson, a mainstay all season for the Vikings (19-6 heading into district play) and recipient of a scholarship next year to St. Joseph’s University, was visibly disappointed after monopolizing the boards. In addition to her game-high 14 points, Robinson seized 18 rebounds.
“I’m disappointed because I thought we would win,” said Robinson. “It’s been a great year and it isn’t over, but we worked really hard to put ourselves in a position to win the Catholic League championship. That was our number-one goal.”
John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103