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When basketball season began last year, Archbishop Carroll fashioned a typically strong lineup with a blend of experience and raw talent.

As the campaign progressed, one particular name kept popping up in conversation and on numerous stat sheets. Before long, however, Alexis Eberz – then a freshman – became part of the Carroll basketball landscape.

“When I was coming in as a freshman, I had goals to accomplish,” said Eberz. “One of them was to give 100 percent every practice and work hard to help my team and myself get better.

“I was given a great opportunity to start as a freshman, and I am so grateful to my coaches for pushing me every practice.”

Now a sophomore, Eberz no longer escapes opponents’ strategical preparation. When the product of Sacred Heart grade school in Manoa isn’t playing staunch defense, the 5-foot, 9-inch guard combines consistent scoring with strong rebounding. The rest of the PCL coaches obviously took notice, as Eberz was named a first-team All-Catholic several weeks ago.

Heading into this fall, the Patriots were coming off a phenomenal experience at the end of the previous winter.

Facing some of the state’s toughest competition, the Patriots stunned the PIAA Class 6A field by winning all five of their tournament games, culminated by a 43-37 win over previously undefeated Cedar Cliff at the Giant Center in Hershey.

In the state final, Eberz scored 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and swished the final two points from the foul line.

“Winning the state championship as a freshman gave me more confidence, exposure, excitement, and experience of what it is like to play on a big stage,” said Eberz.

Teammates and coaches recognized Eberz’s importance in helping Carroll win its third state title and first since 2012.

“We couldn’t have gone on our run without her,” said Carroll star Brooke Wilson, this year’s PCL Most Valuable Player who tallied 10 points and five assists against Cedar Cliff. “Her consistent scoring kept us going and led us to be state champions.

“Lex is such an amazing person and, obviously, basketball player. She has grown so much since last year. Her attention in practice and eagerness to improve is inspiring. She has grown on both sides of the court, guarding great players on defense and consistently scoring on offense. She is the best shooter in the area and the sky’s the limit for her.”

Carroll coach Renie Shields appreciates Eberz’s development and looks forward to her future.

“Alexis has and will continue to take her game to another level,” said Shields. “She is a fundamentally sound player with a high basketball IQ. She recognizes her need to keep working at her game to be the best she can be.”

In this year’s historic Philadelphia Catholic League championship at the Palestra on Feb. 26, Eberz amassed 12 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the first double overtime final in league history.

Although her contribution wasn’t enough to prevent a heartbreaking 54-52 loss to Archbishop Wood, Eberz took some consolation that the Patriots at least put themselves in position to capture the coveted plaque.

“The whole point of playing in the Catholic League is to get to that final goal,” said Eberz. “That goal is to play in the atmosphere of the Palestra.”

The final seconds of regulation will haunt Eberz forever.

With the score tied at 41, Eberz snared a rebound directly under the basket. With five seconds remaining, her put-back seemed perfect. She had steadied herself, laid the ball off the glass, and waited for it to find twine like it usually does 98 percent of the time.

But somehow, someway, the ball chose to stay out of the tunnel and roll back into play, and the nail-biting contest went into overtime . . . then double overtime.

“I would just do literally anything to get that layup back and make it this time,” said Eberz. “It’s frustrating. But basketball is a game of lessons.”

Archbishop Carroll began defending its Class 6A title with two victories and has already reached the state quarterfinals. Like she does before every game, Eberz has followed her personal rituals.

“My mentality before a big game is to just lock in and block out everything,” she said. “Listen to music and put my phone away. And right before the game starts when I’m stretching, I pray a lot.”

Like a fluid dribble coast-to-coast, Eberz beautifully articulated the importance of her spiritual life.

“I am a very prayerful person,” said Eberz. “I say my prayers every single night before I go to bed. I always pray the Hail Mary, the Our Father . . . what and who I am thankful for . . . and to pray for them and to ask God to continue to be by my side.”

***

Contact John Knebels at jknebels@gmail.com or on ‘X’, formerly known as Twitter, @johnknebels.

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