By: John Knebels
Photos: Zamani Feelings, Donna Eckert, Geneva Heffernan, Kathy Leister, Mike Nance & Krystal Williams.
PHILADELPHIA – High school basketball season has been over for about a month, but the plaudits keep on coming.
A whopping nine Philadelphia Catholic League standouts and three Inter-Academic League stalwarts were named to the 2021 Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ All-State Girls’ Basketball Team, two of them as player of the year. Additionally, three PCL mentors were named coach of the year.
Let’s start with the Catholic League.
In Class 6A, Archbishop Carroll junior three-year starter Grace O’Neill was named to the third team. A two-time first-team All-Catholic, the 5-foot, 7-inch point guard averaged 12.8 points, four rebounds, two assists, 2.7 steals, and fewer than two turnovers per game.
“It’s a great honor to receive in a state that has incredible talent,” said O’Neill. “Even though I know this was an individual award, my coaches and teammates that surround me have helped me to continue to improve and make this recognition possible. Being able to play in the PCL has helped elevate my game, which I’m very thankful to be a part of.”
The Lady Patriots came close to stunning Archbishop Wood in the PCL semifinals, losing in the closing seconds. They lost in the first round of the PIAA state tourney.
“Grace is the ultimate competitor,” said Carroll coach Renie Shields. “She competes at both ends of the floor and lifts her teammates each and every day. In addition to her intangibles, her basketball skill set – shooting, passing and ball handling – make her a very solid player.”
In Class 5A, Cardinal O’Hara juniors Maggie Doogan and Sydni Scott, often opponents in Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) ball as youngsters, were named to the first team. O’Hara coach Chrissie Doogan was named coach of the year.
The 6-2 Doogan, a first-team PCL selectee, averaged 14.5 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks per game for the PCL runner-up champs. An unstoppable Doogan corralled 13 points, five blocks, and two steals in a 51-27 state championship blowout over Chartiers Valley.
“I definitely didn’t expect to have the season that I did,” said Doogan. “My mindset going in was just to go out and help my team as much as possible. My teammates encouraged me so much; without them, I wouldn’t have been as successful.”
Doogan’s mom, Chrissie, commended her daughter’s penchant for eschewing the importance of self in favor of team.
“All of her hard work has been paying off,” said Doogan. “I’m very proud of her. She doesn’t care about points and statistics. She slept with the state trophy for like three days. Winning with her team was the only thing she cared about.”
Teammate Scott, a 5-8 junior guard, was named first-team PCL for a third straight season after supplying 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals per game. Scott’s 16 points helped carry the Lady Lions to a lopsided victory in the aforementioned state championship win.
“The Catholic League is the best league there is,” said Scott, who was a Class 6A third-team selection last year. “That’s my personal opinion.”
Chrissie Doogan admires Scott’s unselfish nature.
“Sydni sacrificed some of her point total this year for the success of the team,” said Doogan. “She is a terrific passer who finds her open teammates. Her energy in the locker room and at practice is contagious. She’s a kid her teammates love to be around.”
Doogan waxed humble after being chosen Class 5A Coach of the Year. She recognized “all the great coaches and players” in the state – including assistants Chris Genther, Matt Githens, Alex Leicht, and Steph Garafolo– and said she felt “honored” to be among their company.
No one was more pleased about Chrissie’s recognition than daughter Maggie.
“It’s so special to be coached by my mom, let alone win a state title with her,” said Maggie. “Not many people get the opportunity to be coached by a parent, and with us being so close, it makes it so much more fun to play for her.”
In Class 4A, Archbishop Wood senior Kaitlyn Orihel and junior Ryanne Allen were named to the first team. For the second straight year, Orihel was named Player of the Year, having been selected as POY on the 5A squad as a junior. Wood coach Mike McDonald garnered coach of the year honors.
A 5-10 guard bound for Villanova University, Orihel’s scholastic finale was a beauty. She scored 25 points in the Lady Vikings’ 44-34 state championship win over Erie’s Villa Maria Academy.
The school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,462 points and one of two PCL players in the league’s 77-year history to be named first-team All-Catholic four straight seasons, Orihel started in three straight PCL finals, winning this year against Cardinal O’Hara. She averaged 16.1, four rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.5 steals per game this winter.
“It really is a huge honor to be named player of the year,” said Orihel. “There are so many amazing players in the state, so to be recognized among them is really humbling. Even though this is an individual recognition, it wouldn’t have been possible without my team.
Class 4A first-team selections: Archbishop Wood junior, Ryanne Allen (L) and senior Kaitlyn Orihel (R) hold the Philadelphia Catholic League Trophy - PSD Photo Donna Eckert
“I don’t know if there is another league in the state that matches the level of competition in the Philadelphia Catholic League, which is one of the reasons I chose to attend Archbishop Wood. I wanted to compete against the best girls and teams in the state every year. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with and against so many amazing players and coaches. It’s great to see so many of the league’s players and coaches recognized.”
Orihel recognized that the Lady Vikings would not have been nearly as successful without Allen’s superb play.
“I have been on the court with Ryanne for almost as long as I have been playing basketball – first as an opponent and now as a teammate,” said Orihel. “It’s been so fun to watch her develop into the amazing player that she is today. She works so hard and is so dedicated. She has an amazing future ahead of her.
“Playing together has really been a lot of fun, and I think we have helped each other continue to improve. We always push each other and compete hard against each other in practice while also encouraging each other and celebrating each other’s success. I am super proud of her, and being on the first with her makes this recognition even more special.”
Allen developed a reputation for coming through in the clutch, particularly from the second half of the season through the PCL playoffs, where she scored the winning points in the closing seconds of the semifinal and then netted a game-high 22 points in the final. In the state final, she tallied a crucial 17 points.
The 6-foot guard was a second-team, all-state choice in Class 5A last year and is a two-time PCL first-team selection. She averaged 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and one steal per game.
“To be able to play for Coach Mike and beside Kait this season was super special and something I’ll always remember,” said Allen. “We all did it together. The type of season it was, we all had to lean on each other and trust one another, and we did just that.
“It’s pretty special to be on the all state first-team, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates who helped get me to that point, as well as my parents and family who have done the same. I definitely didn’t do it alone, and to have this added onto what was already a special season is pretty awesome.
“The Catholic League is competitive. It has some of the best athletes and teachers of the game, which makes playing that much better. You have to show up and play every game, and to have as many Catholic teams represented in states the way we did speaks about our league and how good each team really is.”
Though his resume continues to ascend – second overall PCL title following overtime losses in two consecutive PCL finals, and third state title in six years . . . career record of 132-44 . . . numerous players who have continued on to play at Division I, II, and III programs – McDonald deflected his own praise onto his players and assistants Wendy Young, Sue Sebold, and Tom McGill.
“The nine PCL players speaks volumes to the level of competition the PCL teams face every game, while the three all-state coaches speaks to the preparedness of those talented teams,” said McDonald. “The top PCL teams are well-disciplined, unselfish, defend, and run really good offenses to support their players’ strengths. I am always impressed by our PCL opponents’ readiness and have the utmost respect for Chrissie and Beulah. It is an honor to coach in the same league as them.
“I feel Kaitlyn and Ryanne are deserving players of the year, so I am grateful they both received recognition. I am grateful to be recognized as coach of the year, because to me, it is another team award. It’s a credit to the time my coaching staff put in this season and the sacrifices they made. It is also a credit to my players who bought into playing the game together and became driven by their defense. I couldn’t be coach of the year without a great team who was willing to trust our staff and put in the work with us. It really is a team award.”
Archbishop Wood head coach Mike McDonald, who was named PA 4A 20-21 coach of the year, is surrounded by assistant coaches (L-R) Sue Sebold, Tom McGill & Wendy Young after winning this year's PCL title. - PSD Photo by Donna Eckert
According to Orihel, whose name and number four will undoubtedly be retired and displayed along the school gymnasium rafters among the Archbishop Wood best-ever competitors, McDonald is shortchanging his contribution.
“Coach Mike is an amazing coach and I owe so much of my success to him,” said Orihel. “He trusted me and pushed me from my very first day as a Viking. Sometimes he believed in me more than I believed in myself. I think that’s one of the things that makes him a great coach – he sees the potential in his players and knows how to get them to play at that level.
“The winning culture he has created at Wood has impacted every aspect of my game, and I am a better player for having played for him these past for four years.”
Lansdale Catholic sophomore Gabby Casey was named to the second team after notching averages of 19.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 5.0 steals, and 1.7 blocks against a Red Division that was loaded top to bottom.
“I am honored and blessed,” said Casey, who was a third-team PCL selectee. “I would like to thank my coaches and teammates for their continual encouragement and dedication toward my continued development. I’m looking forward to next high school season.”
Lansdale Catholic coach Eric Gidney could not have agreed more with the selection.
“It’s such a well-deserved recognition for a player that pours so much effort and love into the game and her team,” said Gidney. “This award is a true reflection of Gabby as a player, leader, and a teammate, and I’m sure it is the first of many.”
In Class 3A, West Catholic 5-8 senior guard Destiney McPhaul captured player of the year honors after weaving a per-game of20.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. The Virginia Tech University-bound guard scored 1,335 career points.
Assisted by Maureen Deviney and Toya Llaing, Osueke was named Class 3A coach of the year for the second straight year after directing the Lady Burrs to their first-ever state basketball title.
After becoming the only Black coach to win the PCL championship last year, Osueke became the first Black female coach to win a Pennsylvania state hoops title.
“I love working behind the scenes and letting the kids get their shine, but it feels great to be acknowledged for the energy and time my staff and I pour into our kids,” said Osueke, who resigned after the season to pursue other interests related to basketball. “To receive this honor two years in a row, among such deserving coaches, is surreal.”
Neumann-Goretti 5-3 junior guard Mihjae Hayes was named third-team all state after a sterling PCL campaign in which she averaged 18 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.4 steals while being named to the PCL’s second team.
Though pleased that Hayes received recognition, Neumann-Goretti coach Andrea Peterson was simultaneously disappointed.
“Well let’s start with saying Maj is not a third-team all state player,” said Peterson. “She’s definitely a first-team selection for sure.
“Mihjae is one of the best guards around. She’s an unbelievable player who every year adds craft to her game and gets better. She’s a great leader for the younger players on and off the floor. Maj is a winner and her mindset sets her apart from the rest.”
West Catholic head coach Beulah Osueke, named 3A PA coach of the year - PSD photo by Krystal Williams
Neumann Goretti junior guard Mihjae Hayes was named third-team all state - PSD Photo by Geneva Heffernan
Though not a member of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), three players from the Inter-Academic League were recognized.
In Class 4A, Baldwin School senior Anajah Brown was a first-team, all-league selection by PhiladelphiaSportsDigest (PSD). The Siena College recruit was a constant force for the Polar Bears with 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, seven rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game.
“This is so exciting,” said Brown, a three-time, first-team, All-Inter-Ac honoree. “I’m in like complete shock. This is something that I never thought that I could achieve. It just shows that my hard work has paid off.”
Baldwin coach John Bernhardt raved about Brown’s work ethic and maturity.
“Anajah has been the epitome of what it takes to be successful both on the court and in the classroom at the Baldwin School,” said Bernhardt. “She has been a prominent figure within not only the Baldwin School basketball program, but the entire Inter-Ac League for the past five seasons. She has consistently gotten better each year and is constantly trying to up her game.
Baldwin School senior Anajah Brown, is a PA 4A first-team selection - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
“What has set her apart from other players is her ability to lead and lead by example. Not only is she a tremendous basketball player, more importantly, she is a tremendous person.”
In Class 3A, Penn Charter 5-11 sophomore guard Aleah Snead was named to the third team. In her two years as starter, the Quakers have accrued a gaudy 32-5 record, including 7-1 this year, good for an unofficial Inter-Academic League championship tie since the league had decided before the season not to crown a champion.
"It's a big accomplishment for me, as I am just a sophomore in high school and the work I've been putting in is working," said Snead.
"The accomplishment keeps me on my toes and makes me want to get better to get first team and even player of the year."
A first-team, all league selection by PSD, Snead averaged 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 4.1 steals.
“Aleah impacts the game in so many ways,” said Penn Charter coach Joe Maguire. “She is great on both sides of the court. Defensively she can cover one through five, get steals, deflections, blocked shots, and rebounds. Offensively she can score at all three levels, is a willing passer, and makes her teammates better.
“She is easy to play with and would thrive in any system. I’m so excited that I get to coach her for two more years. Aleah has a bright future both on and off the court, and I am glad to be along for the ride.”
Penn Charter sophomore Aleah Snead was named to the PA 3A this-team - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
Notre Dame junior Maeve McErlane was named a PA 2A second-team selection - PSD Photo by Patty Morgan
The 2021 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Girls Basketball teams, including each players school, height, class and scoring average.
Talya Brugler, Nazareth, 6-1, Sr., 15.3
Lizzy Groetsch, North Allegheny, 5-11, Sr., 16.2
Julie Jekot, Cumberland Valley, 5-10, Sr., 15.9
Lucy Olsen, Spring-Ford, 5-9, Sr., 19.4
Ava Sciolla, Pennsbury, 5-11, Jr., 17.0
Olivia Westphal, Bethel Park, 5-9, Sr., 24.6
Lindsay Berger, Parkland, 6-2, Sr., 14.8
Emily Chmiel, Central Bucks East, 6-0, Sr., 16.2
Ashleigh Connor, Mount Lebanon, 5-10, Jr., 21.7
Caroline Shiery, Central Dauphin, 6-3, Jr., 18.0
Emily Strunk, Stroudsburg, 6-2, Sr., 20.9
Jillian Jekot, Cumberland Valley, 5-11, Fr., 12.5
Anna McTamney, Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 5-10, Sr., 13.1
Paige Morningstar, North Allegheny, 6-1, Sr., 11.0
Grace O'Neill, Archbishop Carroll, 5-7, Jr., 12.8
Emina Selimovic, McDowell, 6-0, Sr., 13.8
Jasmine Timmerson, North Allegheny, 5-7, So., 11.0
Makiah Shaw, Red Lion, 6-0, Sr., 16.0
Player of the year -- Lizzy Groetsch, North Allegheny
Coach of the year -- Spencer Stefko, North Allegheny
Anne Bair, Gettysburg, 5-7, Jr., 16.5
Maggie Doogan, Cardinal O'Hara, 6-2, Jr., 14.5
Talia Gilliard-Jackson, Mechanicsburg, 5-8, Sr., 14.7
Aislin Malcolm, Chartiers Valley, 5-11, Jr., 17.2
Kennedie Montue, Plum, 5-11, Sr., 23.6
Sydni Scott, Cardinal O'Hara, 5-8, Jr., 12.0
Laila Campbell, Spring Grove, 6-0, Fr., 15.9
Courtney Dahlquist, Trinity (Washington), 6-1, Sr., 17.4
Grace Niekelski, Mount St. Joseph, 6-0, Sr., 17.0
Perri Page, Chartiers Valley, 6-0, Sr., 15.2
Peyton Pinkney, Woodland Hills, 6-0, Sr., 15.0
Emma Ruhlman, Warren, 5-10, Jr., 14.7
Alexa Abbonizio, Springfield (Delco), 5-7, Sr., 13.9
Alexis Hess, Fleetwood, 6-0, So., 17.5
Maddie Knier, Manheim Central, 5-10, So., 21.2
Marin Miller, Hollidaysburg, 5-5, Jr., 24.5
Emma Theodorsson, Moon, 6-1, Jr., 18.0
Kourtney Wilson, Bethlehem Catholic, 5-9, Jr., 14.8
Player of the year -- Aislin Malcolm, Chartiers Valley
Coach of the year -- Chrissie Doogan, Cardinal O'Hara
Ryanne Allen, Archbishop Wood, 6-0, Jr., 16.6
Anajah Brown, Baldwin (Philadelphia), 6-1, Sr., 17.4
Cecelia Collins, Scranton Prep, 6-1, Sr., 16.5
Moriah Murray, Dunmore, 5-9, Jr., 16.5
Kaitlyn Orihel, Archbishop Wood, 5-10, Sr., 16.1
Rachael Rose, Scranton Prep, 5-7, Sr., 16.5
Ciera Toomey, Dunmore, 6-3., So., 15.3
Gabby Casey, Lansdale Catholic, 5-9, So., 19.8
Taja Colbert, Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg), 5-5, Sr., 20.9
Kaylie Griffin, Gwynedd Mercy, 5-8, Sr., 15.3
Gianna Hoddinott, Delone Catholic, 5-9, Jr., 16.5
Lily Seyfert, Wyomissing, 5-8, Sr., 17.5
Skyler Searfoss, Jim Thorpe, 5-9, Jr., 17.9
Carissa Dunham, Villa Maria (Erie), 5-7, Jr., 9.9
Jaida Parker, Tyrone, 5-9, Jr., 13.4
Emma Pavelek, Beaver, 5-8, Sr., 15.8
Ava Waid, Villa Maria (Erie), 5-6, Sr., 7.1
Corinne Washington, Quaker Valley, 5-11, Sr., 15.5
Player of the year -- Kaitlyn Orihel, Archbishop Wood
Coach of the year -- Mike McDonald, Archbishop Wood
Denae Carter, St. Basil, 6-0, Sr., 21.0
Kylie Lavelle, Riverside (Taylor), 6-1, Jr., 22.5
Destiney McPhaul, West Catholic, 5-8, Sr., 20.9
Summer McNulty, Loyalsock, 5-7, Sr., 14.6
Mariah Wilson, Lancaster Mennonite, 5-9, Sr., 23.6
Antonia Bates, Notre Dame (Green Pond), 6-0, Jr., 12.4
Erika Dubosky, Panther Valley, 5-11, Sr., 18.7
Paige Julian, Mohawk, 5-8, Sr., 20.5
Ava Stevenson, Trinity (Camp Hill), 6-0, Sr., 15.5
Trinity Williams, Palisades, 6-1, Sr., 20.9
Mihjae Hayes, Neumann-Goretti, 5-3, Jr., 18.1
Ciani Montgomery, West Catholic, 5-6, Sr., 18.0
Aslyn Pry, Moniteau, 6-0, Sr., 19.6
Haily Sherman, Susquenita, 5-9, Sr., 18.4
Janai Smith, Imhotep, 5-9, Jr., 14.7
Jordyn Smith, Forest Hills, 5-9, Sr., 17.4
Aleah Snead, Penn Charter, 5-11, So., 14.8
Lauren Trumpy, Trinity (Camp Hill), 6-5, Jr., 13.2
Player of the year -- Destiney McPhaul, West Catholic
Coach of the year -- Beulah Osueke, West Catholic
Mercy Ademusayo, Linden Hall, 6-5, Sr., 14.5
Olivia Ciullo, Old Forge, 5-8, Sr., 22.4
Mairan Haggerty, Neshannock, 5-11, So., 19.0
Kaci Kranson, Holy Cross, 5-10, Jr., 21.5
Dani Rae Renno, Mount Carmel, 6-3, Sr., 20.7
Grace Sundback, Westtown, 5-10, So., 16.3
Alexis Brooks, Westtown, 5-10, Sr., 10.8
Claudia Clark, Mahanoy Area, 57, Sr., 13.7
Zahra King, Westtown, 5-10, So., 14.2
Maeve McErlane, Notre Dame de Namur, 5-10, Jr., 19.5
Neleh Nogay, Neshannock, 5-6, Jr., 17.5
Sanaa Redmond, Shipley, 5-6, Sr., 16.5
Brie Droege, Columbia, 5-7, Fr., 18.6
Maizee Fry, United, 6-0, Sr., 17.5
Genesis Meadows, Lancaster Country Day, 5-5, So., 18.7
Nadia Moore, Winchester Thurston, 5-10, So., 18.8
Kassidy Smith, Penns Manor, 5-8, Sr., 15.8
Alicia Young, Sto-Rox, 5-11, Jr., 19.9
Player of the year -- Mercy Ademusayo, Linden Hall
Coach of the year -- Lisa Varano, Mount Carmel
Emily Garvin, Northumberland Christian, 5-6, Jr., 16.3
Teresa Haigh, Bishop Guilfoyle, 6-0, Sr., 18.0
Corynne Hauser, Rochester, 5-8, Jr., 20.0
Carly Mulvaney, Jenkintown, 5-10, Sr., 16.6
Kaliyah Myricks, George School, 6-2, Sr., 20.8
Andjela Pavicevik, Harrisburg Christian, 25.0
Alexis Robison, Rochester, 5-7, Sr., 19.6
Sarah Chambers, Coudersport, 6-0, Sr., 17.7
Bellah DiNardo, Kennedy Catholic, 5-9, Jr., 15.9
Samantha Heenan, Nativity BVM, 5-8, Sr., 17.7
Leah Homan, Bishop Guilfoyle, 5-11, Jr., 17.7
Merit Innocent, Harrisburg Christian, 6-2, So., 18.0
Zaniyyah Ross-Barnes, Abington Friends, 5-11, Sr., 11.5
Bree Garzel, Port Allegany, 5-8, Sr., 22.2
Serena Hartzler, Veritas, 5-7, Sr., 17.4
Katie McGrath, Jenkintown, 5-7, Jr., 14.1
Jenna Muha, Shade, 6-0, So., 20.5
Rylee Snyder, Shanksville Stonycreek, 6-0, Jr., 17.6
Player of the year -- Teresa Haigh, Bishop Guilfoyle
Coach of the year -- Kristi Kaack, Bishop Guilfoyle
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Inter Academic League Baldwin School Basketball Notre Dame Basketball Penn Charter Girls Basketball Arch. Carroll Girls Basketball Arch. Wood Girls Basketball Cardinal O'Hara Girls B-Ball Lansdale Cath Girls Basketball Neumann/Goretti Girls B-Ball West Catholic Girls Basketball