Three years ago, Gabby Casey had just finished her freshman season. The mere mention of winning a Philadelphia Catholic League championship defied realism and would have been met with much skepticism.

Yet, in the bowels of the Palestra on Monday night, here she was proudly holding the league plaque while describing the feeling of leading Lansdale Catholic to its first-ever PCL crown, a 50-47 victory over rival Archbishop Wood that required a defibrillator for the frenetic fans from both communities.

“I would not have believed a single word they said,” said Casey, the PCL Most Valuable Player who next year will play at St. Joseph’s University. “The Catholic League was so tough. There was a ton of amazing players. As the years went on, we kept progressing and other teams were progressing as well.”

Lansdale Catholic, the number-one seed after tying two-seed Wood and three-seed Cardinal O’Hara with a 9-1 record during the regular season, appeared on its way to a rather easy victory.

Gabby Casey holds the Catholic League championship plaque. (Photo: John Knebels)

The Crusaders jumped to leads of 10-3 and 16-5 in the first quarter. The advantage swelled to 24-8 in the second quarter before Wood rallied behind senior Kara Meredith (game-high 19 points, including three three-pointers in the second quarter), senior Deja Evans (10 points, eight rebounds, block), and junior Ava Renninger (11 points, four rebounds, two steals, assist).

After a stunning reversal in the third quarter during which they outscored Lansdale Catholic by 21-8, the Vikings led 40-35 entering the fourth quarter. Undaunted, after falling behind 44-37, Lansdale Catholic received consecutive three-pointers from Casey (15 point, five rebounds) and senior Jaida Helm (12 points, seven rebounds) while outscoring the Vikings by 13-3 over the final five minutes of regulation.

But it was the final three points that created the most excitement.

With the score tied at 47-47 following a driving layup by Helm with 1:14 left, junior teammate Olivia Boccella swished a long three-pointer – her fourth of the game en route to a team-best 17 points – with 18 seconds remaining, giving the Crusaders a 50-47 lead.

“That was one of the most memorable moments of my life,” said Boccella.

Lansdale Catholic coach Eric Gidney raved about his newly minted Catholic League champions.

“I can’t say enough about this group,” said Gidney. “What a surreal feeling it was. Their approach the last couple of days and how they handled themselves and to be ready for this opportunity . . . ”

An opportunity that once seemed delusional.

Not anymore.


Contact John Knebels at or on Twitter johnknebels.