HERSHEY, PA – It didn’t end the way they wanted.
As they stood there and watched their opponent be handed the state trophy, several members of Archbishop Wood’s contingent dug deep and clapped their hands out of respect and good sportsmanship.
And although the Vikings dropped a 36-33 decision to Mars Area High School in the PIAA Class 5A girls’ basketball state tournament March 28 at the GIANT Center, they had reasons to feel good about what they accomplished overall while simultaneously accepting defeat.
Archbishop Wood seniors accepted the PIAA 5A Runner-Up State Championship Trophy on Wednesday in Hershey - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
“The seniors have accomplished a ton,” said Wood coach Mike McDonald, referring in particular to consecutive state titles in 2016-17 and a Catholic League crown last year. “Standing there watching them celebrate, you have to tip your hat. You have to say congratulations. They deserved that. They won the game.”
Wood (22-8) outplayed Mars (23-6) defensively, outrebounding them by 30-28, stealing seven passes, blocking four shots, and causing 13 turnovers. Shooting, however, failed the Vikings as they connected on just 11 of 43 overall, 5 of 20 from three-point territory, and 6 of 10 from the line.
Now that their season is over, all of the Vikings players were asked what this campaign taught them most on a personal level.
Erin Morgan, senior: “This season I learned that in order to reach your goal you have to work hard, put in a lot of time, and push yourself. You should never take a moment for granted and cherish every small thing.”
Bridget Arcidiacono, senior: “I learned the importance of teamwork and sticking together with your teammates in good times and bad. We did not end the season the way that we wanted, but I could not be more proud of my team and everything we have accomplished this year.”
Mia Andrews, junior: “This season I learned how important it is to follow a process, having patience, and staying focused on the big picture while working on the details everyday.”
Katie May, senior: “I think I learned most about teamwork. This season it was a complete and total effort with no ‘one’ player being more important than another. When we were working together as a team, both offensively and defensively, we were at our best.”
Ryleigh Parsons, junior: “This season taught me that basketball is always there for me and so are my teammates. The team that I play for is not just a team, but one big family that I wouldn’t give up. I’ve learned from our coaches what basketball is really all about not just winning, even though that is very important, but to be a positive individual and that teamwork is the most important thing in life. Without our coaching staff and the rest of the team we wouldn’t have made it as far as we did and I’m so grateful for that. This season as a whole has given me some of my best friends for life and tips that I will use one day. Being apart of the Wood girls’ basketball team is a journey itself and I always appreciate everything. Toughness, positivity, and a good mentality for everything in basketball and in life will get you so far, and that is what I take from our season this year.”
Annie Whalen, junior: “I learned a lot of things this past season. But one of the most important things I learned was that if you work hard and persevere through the tough times, you will go far. I also learned that you never want to lose sight of your ultimate goal, which is getting to and winning the state championship. I am proud of myself and my team. We worked hard all season and got to the championship game even though we didn't come out with the win. We will come back stronger and get it next year!!”
Olivia Sebold, freshman: “As a freshman, I came in knowing that this year was a transition year. I’ve watched Wood play for years now so I know how things work, but having the opportunity to experience it myself was completely different. This season, I’ve learned so much from the upperclassmen that I believe will help me a lot in the years to come. Wood is known for being a winning program, and coming in I knew that. My sister (Cassie) graduated last year so I’ve seen the team win the PCL and states, but also lose, and this year losing while on the team was heartbreaking. The next few years I plan on taking it as a learning experience and moving forward and hopefully we will be able to keep up the winning tradition and keep getting back to where the team has been the past few years. It was a great season and an even better experience, so I’m very excited for the next three years.”
Kaitlyn Orihel, freshman: “My freshman season reinforced the idea that all the hard work and preparation that you put in during the preseason, as well as the season, definitely pays off during the deep run that we usually make into the postseason. During the preseason, when we travel to Phoenix and play some of the top teams in the country, it prepares us for some of the tougher teams that we face during the season and postseason. Also, everyday at practice, we need everyone to show up prepared and ready to practice so we can get better and improve. We owe it to each other to practice at game speed and push each other to improve so that we are as prepared as possible in games.”
Lindsay Tretter, sophomore: “I learned to work hard no matter what the circumstances may be. If I'm not getting that much playing time, then I still need to work hard and I need to stay positive to get my teammates better, too. I also learned how to be more confident within myself when I'm playing out on the court and that I'm out there because my teammates and coaches believe in me so there’s no reason that I shouldn't be. Losing was very hard for me, but I know that if we work just as hard as we did this season, we can get back again next year and hopefully win it all.”
Kacie Sienko, freshman: “Coming in as a freshman, I really didn't know to expect. My plan was to soak in as much as I could from the coaches and upperclassmen. It's been a long
Wood freshman Kaitlyn Orihel #4 drives to the basket- PSD photo by Kathy Leister
#21 Wood sophomore Lindsay Tretter - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
Wood's coaches applaud Mars of its victory - PSD Photo by John Knebels
road and one I didn't expect at times, but one that I wouldn't trade in for anything. I am grateful to have played with Katie, Bridget, Erin, and Nicki. I have learned a lot this year. Mostly, I learned that our program has been successful for two reasons: we work HARD and we play as a TEAM. I am so thankful for this season and the wonderful ride it has been.”
Noelle Baxter, freshman: “As a freshman, this year was a great learning experience. Getting to watch as the upperclassmen perform in games and continue to work better and better together every game was truly a really fun experience. I knew coming into this program that winning was a tradition, so getting all the way to the state championship and losing was definitely disheartening. The team and I have so much motivation to not let that ever happen again. What I’ve learned most this season is that showing up in practice and working hard everyday pays off. And the reason we win so much is because we work the hardest.”
Kira Raison, freshman: “Being a freshman this year, I was initially a little worried about fitting in with the team and finding my place in such a winning program. I learned a lot from watching the games throughout the season and I was really guided by all of the upperclassmen. I learned that in order to be successful on the varsity level, we must work as a team to get the right shots and lock in on defense. I also learned that you have to be strong and confident with the ball at all times. Although it was upsetting to work so hard and fall short in the championship, I am looking forward to next year so we can hopefully work to get back to Hershey!
Elizabeth Fasti, junior: “From this past season I learned that in order to move forward we must play as a team and play tough. Even though I did not contribute on the court during games, I worked hard in practice to make the team better and I kept a positive energy to help the five players on the court keep their positive energy as well. After the loss at Hershey I realized that we cannot win every single game, but as a team we can come back next season and work even harder so we can make it back to Hershey and win another state championship.”
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)