After quarterfinal contests on Thursday night, Feb. 15, the Final Four has been established in Catholic League girls’ basketball.
Although upsets might be considered more interesting, the top four seeds were having none of that. In fact, there was little if any drama in any of the four games, as each was arguably decided by the end of the third quarter.
Neumann-Goretti overwhelmed visiting West Catholic, 71-42, behind a balanced scoring attack paced by Jabria Ingram’s 27 points. The top-seeded Saints finished a perfect 12-0 in league play and showed no signs of letting up against the eighth-seed Burrs.
“The players stuck to the game plan and played really well,” said N-G coach Andrea Peterson. “West Catholic is a very athletic team and has some really good players. We knew we had to defend for 32 minutes to be successful.”
Fourth-seed Archbishop Carroll used a dominant second and third quarter to defeat visiting fifth-seed Bonner-Prendergast, 74-51. The Patriots outscored the Pandas by 46-21 during the stretch. Molly Masciantonio poured in 22 points and teammate Harlem Jennings was right behind her with 20. Led by Myah Garrison’s 12 points, nine different players scored for Bonner-Prenderast.
“We played very well as a team,” said Masciantonio. “Our offense really clicked tonight. Everyone on the team contributed. We worked hard all season for this time of year and preparing for that game. We will have to work even harder to get ready for the next game. I think we can play better on defense and we definitely will.”
Despite a tenacious attempt by visiting sixth-seed Archbishop Ryan, the Lions of Cardinal O’Hara played what many claimed was their best game of the season. With Kenzie Gardler netting 18 points and Destiny Husby adding 10, O’Hara defeated the Ragdolls, 59-36. Ten different players scored for the Lions, who outscored Ryan by 34-18 in the second half.
“The difference tonight was our whole entire team was involved,” said Gardler. “It makes us so hard to guard.”
Standout Maura Hendrixson, who scored seven points, echoed her fellow team captain.
“It was definitely an all-around team win,” said Hendrixson. “We all said before the game we are refusing to lose because we all want to get back to the Palestra, so we all definitely played a lot harder.”
Second-seed Archbishop Wood turned a 14-7, first quarter lead into a 63-33 romp past visiting seventh-seed Lansdale Catholic. Katie May (nine points, nine rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks) was a force. Kaitlyn Orihel (12 points), Bridget Arcidiacono (10 points, eight rebounds, three blocks), Annie Whalen (10), and Mia Andrews (10) each reached double digits for the Vikings, who nailed nine three-point shots and allowed coach Mike McDonald to substitute freely in the second half.
“Our team did all the things well defensively that we wanted, especially on (Brady) Wassel and (Lauren) Crim, and that is always going to be key for us,” said McDonald. “I was very happy with how we played as a team and our effort, though we gave up too many offensive rebounds and need to be crisper against Cardinal O’Hara.”
Wood’s Erin Morgan labeled the result “a great win.”
“I’m really proud of all the girls and look forward to playing in the semifinals,” said Morgan. “Obviously, we want to beat O’Hara and get back to the PCL Championship. Whenever we play them it is a tough game, but hopefully we can come together to get the win.”
Moving onto the semifinals that take place on Feb. 20 at Jefferson University, the top four seeds will be reduced to two and a Feb. 26 championship trip to the Palestra.
Although the Neumann-Goretti vs. Archbishop Carroll contest figures to be spirited (N-G beat Carroll, 62-37, on Jan. 20), a tantalizing match-up between Wood and O’Hara beckons. It was O’Hara that dethroned Wood, 35-30, in last year’s Catholic League championship. On Jan. 19, Wood defeated O’Hara, 33-29, in overtime.
“It should be a very good game,” said O’Hara’s Hendrixson. “Wood’s a really good team this year with great coaches. We lost to them during the regular season and we are learning from our loss so we can be prepared to pull out the win Tuesday.”
Wood’s McDonald enjoyed his squad’s regular-season win over the Lions but said they need to play better.
“The first matchup against O’Hara was a defensive battle,” he said. “We did all the things right defensively in that game, but had some sloppy turnovers. We will need to play at a high level to beat O’Hara again as they, like us, have improved throughout the year. We are confident right now and I am hoping that translates into another trip to the Palestra.”
John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.
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