Talk about the importance of one game.
The Catholic League girls’ basketball final standings showed places three through six separated by a single victory. Archbishop Wood (third) and West Catholic (fourth) finished 9-3; Bonner-Prendergast (fifth) and Cardinal O’Hara (sixth) posted 8-4 records.
So it wasn’t surprising that two of the four playoff games on Feb. 14 included a double-digit “upset” and a game-winning basket with less than one second remaining in regulation. In other words, there was no rhyme or reason as to how those games would turn out.
“When you get teams in the middle of the pack, they’re dangerous,” said Neumann-Goretti coach Andrea Peterson. “They can sneak up and catch anybody by surprise. Every one of these teams really can beat the others.”
The Final Four will meet Feb. 19 at Jefferson University. At 6:30 p.m., top-seed Archbishop Carroll will play five-seed Bonner-Prendergast. Game Two will feature two-seed Neumann-Goretti taking on three-seed Archbishop Wood.
Carroll received 22 points from junior Erin Sweeney and offensive contributions from eight others, lifting the Patriots past visiting eight-seed Lansdale Catholic, 53-37.
Neumann-Goretti avoided a stunning loss to visiting seven-seed Archbishop Ryan. Behind junior Diamond Johnson’s 23 points, the Saints disappointed the Ragdolls, 67-61, in overtime.
Three-seed Archbishop Wood trailed defending league champion Cardinal O’Hara by seven early in the fourth quarter, but the host Vikings outscored the Lions by 11-2 over the final six minutes for a resounding 43-41 triumph.
With the score tied at 41, Wood coach Mike McDonald allowed sophomore standout Kaitlyn Orihel to try and win it on an isolation matchup. Waiting until the final seconds, Orihel drove baseline and plunked home a bank shot lay-up with five-tenths of a second remaining in regulation.
A desperation attempt by O’Hara was denied by Orihel at midcourt, and the Vikings prevailed.
“Definitely something I won’t ever forget,” said Orihel, whose 18 points included eight in the decisive fourth stanza. “Anytime you beat a rival like O’Hara, it’s special for everybody.”
The only visiting team that exited victorious was five-seed Bonner-Prendergast. The Pandas opened an 18-6 lead after one quarter, increased it to 35-20 at halftime, and led by 49-30 after three en route to a 56-41 win over four-seed West Catholic.
Four players scored in double figures for Bonner-Prendergast, sullying an 18-point effort by West sophomore Destiney McPhaul.
In Catholic League boys’ basketball, four semifinalists will meet Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Palestra. La Salle will take on Bishop McDevitt, while Roman Catholic will face Neumann-Goretti.
John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.
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