skip navigation

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Before Playoffs, a Final Look at a Riveting PCL Regular Season

By John Knebels, 02/14/24, 2:00PM EST


2024 PCL All-Catholic Teams Announced

Photos: Richard Barnes, Zack Beavers, Chelby Elam, Donna Eckert, Geanine Jamison, Lennie Malmgren, Allie Riches & Krystal Williams

By: John Knebels

PHILADELPHIA – It’s been almost a decade since a Philadelphia Catholic League girls’ basketball team finished undefeated in the regular season and ultimately hoisted a championship plaque. 

After finishing 11-0 and earning the top seed heading into Thursday night’s PCL quarterfinals, Archbishop Wood is attempting to imitate the 2015 Neumann-Goretti squad that blitzed past the regular-season before beating Archbishop Wood in the final.

Since then, four teams have painted a perfect regular season before falling in the championship: the 2016 Neumann-Goretti team lost to two-seed Archbishop Wood, 40-36, which ended the Saints’ 53-game winning streak; the 2017 Archbishop Wood team dropped a 35-30 decision against three-seed Cardinal O’Hara; the 2018 Neumann-Goretti squad led by nine late in the third quarter before a stunning 54-39 loss to three-seed O’Hara; and the 2022 Archbishop Carroll team got blindsided by two-seed O’Hara, 55-30. 

Other than needing to overcome a late double-digit deficit against visiting Archbishop Carroll on Jan. 20, this year’s Vikings have dominated the competition. Over a two-week stretch, Wood upended Cardinal O’Hara by 13, Carroll by five, Lansdale Catholic by 18, and Neumann-Goretti by 17. 

According to Wood senior Emily Knouse, although those recent memories remain pleasant, they’re old news. The Vikings’ only focus is on eight-seed Conwell-Egan, whom Wood defeated, 80-58, on Jan. 4.

“I think especially now that we have beaten every team, they’re going to change up their game plan a little bit and throw everything at us,” said Knouse, who in the 70-52 win at Lansdale Catholic on Jan. 23 tied a program record with 34 points, aided by nailing seven three-pointers in the first half. “I think everyone, including us, is going to do whatever it takes to win.”

Archbishop Wood senior Emily Knouse hits seven three-pointers in first half vs. Lansdale Catholic on Jan. 23rd - PSD Video by John Knebels

Senior teammate Lauren Greer concurs.

“I mean, being undefeated in the PCL is obviously really nice,” said Greer, “but we’ve worked too hard for that to be it. We have the opportunity to be PCL champs and state champs, which to a lot of us is what the big picture is. We don’t stop after achieving one goal. We are constantly reaching for the next one.”

In most cases, a second seed enters the postseason in a collectively good mood. Not so for Cardinal O’Hara, which will meet seven-seed West Catholic. On Jan. 23, the Lions bested the Burrs, 64-37.

Although the Lions’ 9-2 record – sparked by key wins over host Archbishop Carroll (45-37) and visiting Lansdale Catholic (51-35) – is impressive, their 76-71 regular-season finale loss on Feb. 10 at Neumann-Goretti sticks in their craw. 

“I am hoping when the girls come into practice after a loss like that, where we gave up 76 points, they can refocus and get back to what has gotten us 19 wins this far, and that is playing defense and rebounding with a purpose,” said O’Hara coach Chrissie Doogan. “I feel like the past couple games we have gotten away from that and just tried to outscore teams. The girls have big goals and we need to do the little things in order to achieve them.”

Cardinal O’Hara senior Greta Miller talks about big win over Lansdale Catholic. (video/John Knebels)

Freshman Megan Rullo scored 12 points in victory over Lansdale Catholic. (video/ John Knebels)

Among the many season highlights for three-seed Archbishop Carroll occurred on Feb. 8 when senior Brooke Wilson reached the 1,000-point career scoring mark off a rebound with three minutes remaining in the third quarter of a 58-26 win over visiting West Catholic.

The victory helped the Patriots finish 9-2 and await a match-up with defending PCL champion and six-seed Lansdale Catholic, which lost at Carroll, 44-31, on Jan. 26.

Thrilled teammates immediately surrounded the affable Wilson, who cried some gentle tears after receiving hugs from players and coaches before returning to the game.

On Tuesday night, Wilson had even more reason to celebrate after being named PCL Most Valuable Player.  

“It was such a great moment,” said Wilson, whose sister Taylor also eclipsed 1,000 points before graduating last year. “Just seeing all my teammates, coaches, family, and friends so excited for me and so happy made me really emotional. I’m so grateful to be part of such an amazing team, and it was just one of those moments that made me realize how lucky I am.”

Carroll coach Renie Shields acknowledged Wilson’s all-around ability and constant fortitude.

“Brooke has continued to be an offensive and defensive presence on the floor,” said Shields. “From her freshman through senior year, you see a player who competes and works to make her team better. Scoring 1,000 points is a testament to the hard work and focus she puts forth every day.”

Archbishop Carroll Senior Brooke Wilson scored her 1000th career point in game vs. West Catholic on Feb. 8. (video/Tara Johnson)

Few four-seed basketball teams pose such a dangerous threat as does Neumann-Goretti, which finished 8-3 and awaits five-seed Nazareth Academy. The Saints hope to mirror their 77-52 win over the Pandas on Jan. 23.

Looking for a signature victory, the Saints achieved precisely that in their 76-71 season-finale success against visiting Cardinal O’Hara, their first win over the Lions since 2019. 

Neumann-Goretti coach Andrea Peterson received a complete effort from junior Carryn Easley (15 points, 8 assists), junior Amya Scott (19 points), freshman Reginna Baker (24 points), and sophomore Kamora Berry (16 points). 

“Great team win on both ends of the floor,” said Peterson. “Our leaders did a good job of leading the way and keeping our younger kids locked in.”

Heading into the season, no one knew what to expect from Nazareth Academy. Participating in the PCL for the first time, the Pandas have already far exceeded realistic expectations.

With a solid record of 7-4, Nazareth joined Archbishop Wood and Cardinal O’Hara as the only PCL teams to avoid a losing streak.

Their 6-2 record down the stretch included several key wins, none more than a stunning 36-35 victory over visiting Lansdale Catholic in the regular-season finale.

Not only did the nail-biter elevate Nazareth from a six-seed to a five-seed, it also might help them earn a spot in the District 12 playoffs.

And one more thing . . . Nazareth became the first PCL team to defeat the defending champion in their inaugural debut.

“We are extremely proud of our girls this year,” said Nazareth coach Mary Kate Magagna. “We understood that switching over to the PCL was going to be a challenge for us with an entirely new schedule and the talent in the league. We took the season game-by-game, adapted, and gave our best effort each day. We knew that every game was going to be a battle no matter the talent or record of the opposing team. We are excited to earn a playoff spot and look forward to how the postseason will play out.”

Nazareth Academy junior Reese Power, who led all scorers with 16 points, recognized the challenge before the opening tip.

Nazareth Academy coach Mary Kate Magagna pleased with Pandas’ effort in win over Conwell-Egan. (video/ John Knebels)

“We were really excited about the game,” said Power. “We knew it was going to be a tough one, especially what they did to us last year. We took that loss personally and wanted to prove to ourselves and everyone that we are here to play and compete.

“LC had just come off a win against Neumann, who we lost to. Coach Mary Kate prepared us for the game and we went into the game with a positive attitude. (Senior) Gracie Sullivan (seven points, strong defense) was a major part.”

Coming off its first-ever PCL title, Lansdale Catholic raced to a 4-0 start. But inconsistency resulted in a 3-4 conclusion, a surprising 36-35 loss at Nazareth Academy, an unforeseen sixth seed, and a quarterfinal match-up at three-seed Archbishop Carroll.

The Crusaders, however, cannot be overlooked. In addition to possessing one of the PCL’s best-ever sharpshooters in senior Olivia Boccella and a dangerous point guard in junior

Sanyiah Littlejohn, Lansdale Catholic junior center/forward Grace McDonough has displayed an ability to be a difference maker.

Case in point: In the Crusaders’ 58-47 win over Neumann-Goretti, McDonough scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Littlejohn was also a force with 19 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.

“Offensively, we played inside very well and we took advantage of our size,” said McDonough. “I used my size to constantly post up and create space inside the lane. Whether it was Sanyiah, Olivia, Nadia (Yemola), Allie (Esposito), or Aubrey (Mobley), we were able to play off each other and look for drive openings and opportunities for post-entry passes. I wouldn’t have gotten as many points as I did if it weren’t for them.

“Defensively, we knew that they had some really quick guards, so we had to focus on keeping them in front and not let them get to the basket.”  

Lansdale Catholic vs. Neumann-Goretti game on 2/6. (video/ Geanine Jamison for PSD)

Lansdale Catholic Coach Eric Gidney needs his team to play a complete game. (video/ John Knebels)

At West Catholic, a 58-55 victory at Conwell-Egan on Feb. 6 ultimately provided the Burrs with a 5-6 record, a seventh seed, and a quarterfinal date at Cardinal O’Hara.

Sophomore Ciani Scott (15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists), junior Nyla Coleman (15 points, 5 rebounds), sophomore Ciana Blake (9 points, 5 steals, 4 assists), and sophomore Jasmine Butler (10 points) etched one of the season’s best performances.

“Really nice to get a win in a tough environment,” said West Catholic coach Messiah Reames. “It was a team effort across the boards. The players and the coaches were all locked in on coming out of there with the win.”

A 4-7 record left Conwell-Egan as an eight seed and a trip to undefeated Archbishop Wood. The Eagles began the league season losing three of four, won three straight, and then lost their last four – including two nail biters (48-42 at Nazareth Academy and 58-55 against West Catholic).

Senior Brianna McFadden, who will play at Gwynedd-Mercy University next year while her twin sister Brooke will hoop it up at the College of New Jersey, shared her thoughts on the regular season.

“While it has been a tough season, we have competed with some of the top teams, have had some close losses, and even with some of the larger-margin losses, we have been close in the third quarter every game, so we feel like we can compete if we play our best basketball,” said McFadden. “We keep making improvements throughout the season, but so are all of the other teams.

“You only get better playing better teams, and Wood is the best we can get this year. They are super athletic, well-coached, play great defense, and can put the ball in the basket from anywhere. For me and Brooke, Wood is always one of our favorite teams to play because we know how tough they are. I hope that we can shock those keeping up with our season and be able to compete and hopefully pull out the win.”

Milewski Sisters Molly (L) and Lily (r) analyze loss to Nazareth Academy. (video/ John knebels)

Falling a game short of the playoffs, Bonner-Prendergast (3-8) won two of its final three games, including a 39-28 season-finale victory over visiting St. Hubert’s led by senior Riley Donahue and junior Taylor Eagan.

“It was awesome ending the season with a win on senior night,” said Pandas assistant coach Sarah Monaghan. “We have four amazing seniors (Donahue, Leah Walker, Lilly Goldschmidt, and Mairead Morris) and are thankful to them for their hard work and dedication to our program.”

The highlight of Archbishop Ryan’s 2-9 season was a 40-30 victory over visiting neighborhood rival St. Hubert’s fueled by All-Catholic senior Delaney Finn (20 points), senior Eliana Szatkowski (all-around play), senior Jenna Gontz (10 points), and senior Haley Davis (12 points, 11 in the fourth quarter).

“Hubert’s is a tough team,” said Ryan coach Mike Gallagher. “We knew they were going to give us their all, especially with this being a northeast Philly rivalry. This was a complete team win for us. We played hard and, most importantly, played together.”

Ryan senior Delaney Finn and freshman Breelynn Gavaghan are pleased with the program’s development

Archbishop Ryan head coach Mike Gallagher looks forward to the future. (video/ John Knebels for PSD)

Although St. Hubert’s finished 1-10, the Bambies competed hard before losing by two points to West Catholic, 18 to Conwell-Egan, 10 at Ryan, and 11 at Bonner-Prendergast. Senior Lex Price, sophomore Luca D’Andrea, and freshman Saige Primavera all had fine seasons.

“We are young and inexperienced, but we are making strides,” said coach Dave Schafer. “A lack of numbers hurts.”

According to senior Allie Szychulski, Little Flower’s 0-11 record betrayed the more important big picture.

"Even though the season may not have gone as planned, the Little Flower basketball players put their heart and soul into every game and practice,” said Szychulski, who will now prepare to play softball. “It was a great season and we did everything as a team.

“I could not be more proud of the girls on the court because they made my senior season unforgettable. Throughout everything, they always kept their heads held high and put all their effort into the game. They taught me the importance of teamwork and determination, to never give up, and to give it your all."

Sounds like Little Flower won after all.


(Contact John Knebels at or on X (formerly Twitter) @johnknebels.)


2024 PCL All-Catholic Team Selections:

Most Valuable Player: Brooke Wilson, Archbishop Carroll

Brooke Wilson, Senior - Archbishop Carroll
Alexis Eberz, Sophomore - Archbishop Carroll
Ava Renninger, Senior - Archbishop Wood
Emily Knouse, Junior - Archbishop Wood
Molly Rullo, Junior - Cardinal O’Hara
Joanie Quinn, Senior - Cardinal O’Hara
Grace McDonough, Junior - Lansdale Catholic
Reese Power, Junior - Nazareth Academy
Reginna Baker, Freshman - Neumann-Goretti
Carryn Easley, Junior - Neumann-Goretti

Felicity McFillin, Senior - Archbishop Carroll
Delaney Finn, Senior - Archbishop Ryan
Alexa Windish, Senior - Archbishop Wood
Carly Coleman, Senior - Cardinal O’Hara
Lily Milewski, Junior - Conwell Egan
Olivia Boccella, Senior - Lansdale Catholic
Sanyiah Littlejohn, Junior - Lansdale Catholic
Gracie Sullivan, Junior - Nazareth Academy
Amya Scott, Junior - Neumann-Goretti
Nyla Coleman, Junior - West Catholic

Honorable Mention                      
Lauren Greer, Senior - Archbishop Wood
Riley Donahue, Senior - Bonner & Prendie
Meg Rullo, Sophomore - Cardinal O’Hara
Brooke McFadden, Senior - Conwell-Egan
Kamora Berry, Sophomore - Neumann-Goretti