By: John Knebels
Photos/Videos: John Knebels, Kathy Leister, Donna Eckert & Rachel Macauley
Carrying a three-game winning streak into a home tilt against a previously undefeated opponent, West Catholic sent some minor shock waves throughout the Red Division on Feb. 4 when the Burrs startled Archbishop Wood, 66-56.
Contributions were aplenty. Junior Destiney McPhaul collected 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks. Junior Ciani Montgomery contributed 15 points, five assists, and three steals. Senior Tamiah Robinson added 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.
“We’ve had a lot of inconsistencies this season, so I’m glad to see my kids responding, maturing, and clicking at the right time,” said West coach Beulah Osueke. “We’re right where we want to be for postseason play. I’m so proud to see my entire team lock in and execute.”
West jumped to a 9-2 lead, but the Vikings came back to lead after one quarter, 15-14. Behind deadly marksmanship, West Catholic meticulously pulled away in the second quarter, taking a 38-24 advantage into halftime. Despite its best effort, Wood was unable to move any closer than eight points down the stretch.
The win turned Senior Day into quite a celebration.
“The crowd was ecstatic from the tip,” said Osueke. “Our community support has grown as we’ve gotten the ball rolling. Our 2020 class (seniors Tamiah Robinson and Kaori Saunders) is a special class. They changed the culture of our program. I’m glad their family and close friends got to witness them play so well and end their regular season at home on a high note.”
The Burrs ended up finishing with a five-game winning streak and an 8-4 record, good for third place in the division. They join three other squads that received a first-round playoff bye.
Needing a win to refuel its mojo after the loss to West Catholic, Archbishop Wood rebounded two nights later when junior Kaitlyn Orihel drilled a three-point swish at the buzzer to send the Vikings past a thoroughly disappointed Cardinal O’Hara, 49-46.
With the score tied at 46-46, O’Hara attempted a final shot that bounced off the rim and was corralled by the PCL’s top rebounder, senior Izzy Larsen.
Dribbling down the right side, Larsen fired a perfect cross-court pass to Orihel on the wing.
The first-team All-Catholic caught the ball, dribbled once, and lofted a perfect shot that sent Wood’s fanbase into a frenzy.
“I knew we only had two or three seconds left, so I knew I had to get a shot off as soon as I could,” said Orihel, who last year beat O’Hara on a buzzer-beater in the Catholic League quarterfinals. “Thank God it went in.”
Huge defensive contributions down the stretch came from sophomore Bri Bowen, junior Noelle Baxter, and senior Lindsay Tretter for Wood, which finished 11-1 in the Red Division and now awaits its quarterfinal opponent. For O’Hara, sophomore Sydni Scott scored 15 while juniors Amaris Baker and Siobhan Boylan added 10 apiece.
A few weeks ago, Lansdale Catholic junior Timaya Lewis-Eutsey was asked about her fast-approaching career 1,000th point. She didn’t elaborate.
“Not thinking about it too much,” she said. “Just need to play hard and good things will come.”
A really good thing came on Feb. 7. With a rebound follow underneath the basket, Lewis-Eutsey became the ninth – and quickest – female in Lansdale Catholic history to reach 1,000 points. She finished with 25 points in the Crusaders’ triumph over Bishop McDevitt.
“It was a great feeling and a great accomplishment,” said Lewis-Eutsey. “This has been a goal of mine since entering high school. When the (celebratory) buzzer went off, that feeling was like no other.”
Lewis-Eutsey considered the thousands of hours that she has labored to join such rare company.
“I am hardest on myself, so I can truly say with my whole heart that I worked for this,” she said. “None of this would be possible without my family as support, or my teammates being the best they can be.”
Crusaders coach Eric Gidney summarized Lewis-Eutsey’s accomplishment.
“No one deserves it more,” said Gidney. “She has a great work ethic and is a terrific leader. We’re very happy for her.”
Lansdale Catholic finished a perfect 8-0 in the Blue Division. Outside of a mildly competitive contest the first time they met St. Hubert, the Crusaders dominated their opponents by an average margin of 37.2 points.
The division clincher occurred on Feb. 4, when the Crusaders upended Hubert, 70-39. Although Lewis-Eutsey scored 22 points and senior Riley DeVitis added 19, it was the play of Lauren Edwards that spoke loudest. The sophomore exploded for a career-high 23 points, including eight in the final stanza.
“Coming into this game especially, it’s kind of one of our last competitive games going into the playoffs, so we really knew we had to get a big win,” said Edwards. “Me and the rest of my teammates knew we had to come out big and we had to keep up the intensity throughout the game, and we were able to do that.
“We play best when we play off each other and when we play together, so I was taking all of the opportunities I could to kind of play off the players.”
With the regular season completed, the postseason will commence Feb. 11. All seven Red Division teams joined five of the top six from the Blue. Teams one through four – Archbishop Wood, Neumann-Goretti, West Catholic, and Cardinal O’Hara – received byes.
(12) John W. Hallahan at (5) Archbishop Carroll, 5:00 – The host Patriots (5-7) take a misleading record into the playoffs. Among their losses: 57-51 in overtime against West Catholic; 54-51 against Neumann-Goretti; 52-46 against Cardinal O’Hara; 59-53 against Archbishop Wood. The Pats also handed West Catholic one of its only four losses. Hallahan (2-10) twice defeated Bishop McDevitt.
(11) Little Flower at (6) Bonner-Prendergast, 7:00 – The host Pandas (2-10) dropped close defeats versus West Catholic (60-52) and twice against Cardinal O’Hara (47-41 and 39-38). Despite numerous injuries, Little Flower (4-6) came close to placing third in the Blue when considering their two losses to Conwell-Egan by scores of 34-28 and 45-37. The Sentinels lost to Lansdale Catholic by 21, a considerable improvement from a 37-point margin earlier.
(10) Conwell-Egan at (7) Archbishop Ryan, 7:00 – The host Ragdolls (0-12) are extremely hungry to reach the quarterfinals after going winless in the extremely balanced Red Division, though they stuck with West Catholic (67-55) and Bonner-Prendergast (50-47) to the end. The Eagles (6-4) bring a three-game winning streak into the bout.
(9) St. Hubert at (8) Lansdale Catholic, 6:00 – As mentioned earlier, the host Crusaders literally romped past everyone in the Blue by an average margin of 37.2 points. This includes victories over Hubert (72-58 and 70-39). The Bambies (8-2) defeated their foes by an average of 23.2 points.
Final Regular Season Standings
11-1 Archbishop Wood
8-4 West Catholic
7-5 Cardinal O’Hara
5-7 Archbishop Carroll
0-12 Archbishop Ryan
10-0 Lansdale Catholic
8-2 St. Hubert
4-6 Little Flower
2-8 John W. Hallahan
0-10 Bishop McDevitt
(Contact John Knebels at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @johnknebels.)
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Girls Basketball Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Girls Basketball Arch. Ryan Girls Basketball Arch. Wood Girls Basketball Bishop McDevitt Girls B-Ball Bonner & Prendie Girls B-Ball Cardinal O'Hara Girls B-Ball Conwell-Egan Girls Basketball John W. Hallahan Basketball Lansdale Cath Girls Basketball Little Flower Basketball Saint Hubert Basketball Neumann/Goretti Girls B-Ball West Catholic Girls Basketball