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Girl’s – Carroll determined to go distance this time in PIAA playoffs

By Matt Smith

Archbishop Carroll came a win short of making the PIAA Class 5A final a year ago.

The Patriots advanced to the semifinal round with many of the same players on this year’s team, including seniors Harlem Jennings and Mary DeSimone, junior Erin Sweeney and sophomore Karli Dougherty.

Today, the Catholic League and District 12 champions should play for the championship against District 7 champion Chartiers Valley. Tip off is 6 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey.

“You feel bad last year because that was such a great group of seniors, they were such a talented group and all,” Carroll coach Renie Shields said following the Patriots’ 39-32 overtime win over Southern Lehigh in the semifinals. “This team, with this group, to get this far is pretty incredible. Not much you can say, just keep playing hard.”

Jennings noted earlier in the season the Patriots were poised to win it all after capturing the Catholic League title last month. And they wanted to avenge last winter’s disappointing finish.

“We always felt we could go far, but winning the Catholic League was really important for us,” said Jennings, who transferred to Carroll from Bishop Guilfoyle in Altoona after her sophomore year. “We didn’t like the way we finished last season and we believed we fell short. We just are so focused on not coming up short again this year. Together we are really clicking out on the court and all the girls on the believe in the same thing.”

The Patriots are chasing the program’s third PIAA championship. The team won Class 3A titles in 2009 and 2012 under former coach Chuck Creighton. Shields was an assistant on those teams. Her daughter and assistant, Erin, was a star player on the 2009 team.

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Imhotep, whistles knock Bonner & Prendie off-balance in title game loss to Imhotep

Bonner & Prendie’s Isaiah Wong, right is fouled while shooting a three-point shot in the fourth quarter against Imhotep Thursday night. PETE BANNAN – MEDIANEWS GROUP

By Matthew DeGeorge

Throughout its run to the state finals, balance defined the Bonner & Prendergast offense. It wasn’t always Isaiah Wong or Tariq Ingraham, the two blue-chip headliners any opponent would list first on their scouting report, forced to provide most of the offensive production.

About the time that Wong, the reigning Daily Times player of the year, hoisted his second 26-foot 3-pointer of the third quarter for the trailing Friars Thursday, it was pretty clear that such balance had broken down. And as Bonner’s stars adhered to the extremes of the scoring spectrum, there was little that the Friars could do to dent Imhotep Charter’s dynasty.

Behind four double-figure scorers, the Panthers claimed their seventh state title in 11 seasons and third straight in Class 4A via a 67-56 victory in a whistle-marred final at Hershey’s Giant Center.

Wong did his part, with a game-high 29 points and seven rebounds. But he was one of five Friars to finish with four fouls each, as the referees lost the plot in the third quarter, whistling 11 fouls on Bonner in nine minutes, which robbed the high-flying rematch of the District 12 final from any sort of flow.

The raggedness was apparent early. The Friars (22-7) tried to force the ball to Ingraham in the post, but two first-quarter fouls meant he would have to sit for the last 10 minutes of the half.

“It was hard to establish a rhythm, everyone getting in foul trouble,” Wong said. “We were just trying to find another way to try to get a dub, but we couldn’t find another way today. I felt we did good as a team with the struggles we had.”

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Jaguars’ man-up promise to coach has proven successful

Photo by: Digital First Media

By Matt Smith

The five seniors that would comprise Garnet Valley’s starting lineup for the duration of the 2018-19 season made their coach a deal in November.

Coach Joe Woods’ veterans decided to put the onus on themselves. They believed they possessed talent, tenacity and the make-up, both physically and mentally, to take the program to new heights. By coming to Woods with a simple idea, the Jaguars set the bar for their season and legacy.

Let us play man-to-man defense, they told Woods, and you will not regret it. They did it all season, in every game, regardless of opponent. For years the Jaguars have played mostly zone defenses, or as Woods said recently, “it’s rare to have five players on the court who could play man the whole time,” and be very good at it.

Woods has never had a team like this, one in which he can set it and forget it. He has an unspeakable bond with his senior starters — guards Morgan Falcone and Jill Nagy, forwards Brianne Borcky, Emily McAteer and Madi McKee, all of whom have made good on their promise.

They challenged themselves in the fall, before the journey to a third Central League title in four years, and the program’s first District 1 championship. Now they are determined to leave together with a PIAA Class 6A championship Friday night in Hershey.

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This weekend’s PIAA basketball championships feature eight area teams going for the gold

By Jaiden Campana and Corey Sharp

The final weekend of the PIAA basketball season is here, and eight local teams have the opportunity to finish their season with a victory and a state championship.

Here is a look at the seven games — two locals play each other — scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All games will be at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Thursday, Class 4A boys: Bonner-Prendergast vs. Imhotep, 8 p.m.

Familiar faces meet again in this game as the teams repeat their District 12 championship game.

A missed desperation halfcourt heave by Imhotep at the end of overtime was all that separated the teams in the first meeting. Since then, the Imhotep Panthers have rolled through the playoffs, beating teams by an average of 21 points even without 6-foot-7 Maryland recruit Donta Scott in the semifinals against Hickory. Now, Scott is back and can end his high school career with a third consecutive state title.

Bonner-Prendergast’s Isaiah Wong, a Miami recruit, notched a double-double against Imhotep in the District 12 final, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He’s been contributing on both ends of the court throughout the state playoffs. Against Nanticoke in the second round, he had 11 points and nine boards. In the semifinal win against Lower Moreland, Wong had 10 points and eight rebounds, along with two blocks.

(click on this link for the story on all PIAA final contests this weekend)


Bonner & Prendergast playing for more than a state title

Tariq Ingraham puts up a shot in the second quarter against Archbishop Carroll Friday. Ingraham scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 61-44 Bonner & Prendergast win. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

By Matthew DeGeorge

Reaching a state final is a momentous achievement for any basketball program.

When your team represents a school that won four games just five years ago, that had never before last season made the PIAA tournament much less a final, that within the last decade has had its very existence threatened by closure … it means a whole lot more.

That’s the position that Bonner & Prendergast is in this week. In addition to the trappings of being a District 12 champion and representing the power of the Catholic League in Thursday’s all-Philly PIAA Class 4A final against Imhotep Charter, the Friars are playing for something bigger. It’s larger and more poignant even than the rebuilding process that’s unfolded for the last five years, first under alumnus Jack Concannon and now in the first season under his former assistant, Kevin Funston.

“Jack established that culture, and I’ve been trying to build upon it with the same coaches that have been here these last five years,” Funston said this week. “It’s to remember the guys that have been here before you. Everything that we do, we try not to take it for granted. It’s bigger than just these games here. You’re playing for your Bonner family and for the Bonner community. Especially after (Monday’s) game and them seeing how many people came out to support us and over the last 24 hours, how many people are reaching out and congratulating us and wishing us good luck.”

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Girl’s – Defense, clutch free throws lift Archbishop Carroll to state final

Archbishop Carroll’s Harlem Jennings puts up a shot against Southern Lehigh in the second half Tuesday night at Souderton. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

By Matt Smith

Mary DeSimone’s hot hand from 3-point land in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal round helped Archbishop Carroll advance to the final four for a second year in a row.

The senior guard didn’t have many opportunities to shoot the ball Tuesday, but didn’t disappoint when she held Carroll’s state fate in her hands.

DeSimone stood at the foul line in overtime and made both attempts to give Carroll the lead for good against District 11 champion Southern Lehigh. The Patriots then went 9-for-10 at the charity stripe in the extra session en route to a 39-32 victory.

Carroll will thus play District 7 champion Chartiers Valley Saturday in the Class 5A championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey. Carroll is vying for its third PIAA title.

DeSimone was ready for the pressure-packed moment.

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Girl’s – Cold fourth quarter dooms Bonner & Prendergast

Bonner & Prendergast senior guard Maeve McCann scored 15 points in the Pandas’ 64-50 loss to Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA Class 4A semifinal round Tuesday. Photo by: Digital First Media

By Bob Grotz

Bonner & Prendergast was right where it needed to be entering the final frame of its PIAA Class 4A girls semifinal with Bethlehem Catholic Tuesday at Souderton High.

One quarter separated the Pandas from what could be a first trip to the state championship game, the contest knotted at 35.

The Pandas grabbed just their third lead since the first quarter on a free throw from Maeve McCann in the first minute.

But in the time it takes to say, step-back jumper, junior point guard Jaleesa Lanier deposited the first of four fourth-quarter buckets, including one of her four three-pointers, to kickstart a 12-2 run that proved fatal to the Pandas, who exited on the wrong side of 64-50.

It was the second straight season Tom Stewart and the Pandas (20-10) hit the green only to miss the birdie putt. They just didn’t have an answer for Lanier, who finished with 26 points.

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Ingraham fuels Bonner & Prendergast as it rolls toward state title final

Bonner & Prendergast’s Malik Edwards hits a 3-point shot in the first quarter of the PIAA Class 4A semifinal against Lower Moreland at Plymouth-Whitemarsh Monday evening. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

By Terry Toohey

Bonner & Prendergast’s talented cast went into the locker room at halftime of a PIAA Class 4A state semifinal with Lower Moreland up eight points and not exactly happy about it.

The District 1 champion Lions definitely had the Friars out of their comfort zone, so the Bonner & Prendie players had a little chat.

“We were talking about how this could be our last 16 minutes ever,” senior guard Mike Perretta said. “We just woke up and jumped on them from the start.”

The District 12 champions put together a third quarter for the ages to roll over the Lions, 83-47, and advance to their first state championship game in program history.

The Friars (22-5) tallied 31 points in the period, one more than they had in the first half, to take a 61-31 lead into the fourth quarter. As scrappy as the Lions (28-3) were, the 30-point deficit was too much for Lower Moreland to realize its dream of going to the state final for the first time.

The win extended Bonner & Prendie’s winning streak to five games, the last four have been by an average of 26.25 points.

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McAteer, Garnet Valley advance to PIAA Class 6A final

Garnet Valley’s Emily McAteer takes a shot against Neshaminy in first quarter of the PIAA Class 6A semifinal game at Plymouth-Whitemarsh Monday evening. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

By Matt Smith

Garnet Valley is going to work on its foul shooting in practice this week. It is one of the few basketball teams remaining in Pennsylvania that can say such a thing.

Despite shooting 55.8 percent from the floor (19-for-34) in a PIAA Class 6A semifinal at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School Monday night, the Jaguars incurred some problems at the charity stripe. Eight missed freebies had left the window cracked for Neshaminy, which had trailed by eight points with 45 seconds to play.

Amid the amplified roars of Neshaminy’s student section, Jill Nagy stepped to the line with 8.5 seconds to go. The senior guard missed the first shot, but made the second to put GV ahead by three points.

Neshaminy had a chance to tie. Senior guard Allison Harvey, who is probably the team’s best 3-point shooter, had an open look from the corner. The ball went in and out of the basket. Brooke Mullin corralled the rebound, but time ran out before Mullin could kick the ball back out.

Garnet Valley claimed a 51-48 victory and is going to Hershey Friday night to play for the program’s first state championship.

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Garnet girls, Bonner boys good as gold in semifinals

By Bob Grotz

The Garnet Valley girls didn’t exhale Monday night until a last-second three-pointer by Neshaminy rimmed in and out.

Then the carrying on began, and deservedly so. The Jaguars are the first basketball team in the history of the school to reach a state title game. The Class 6A championship is Friday at the Giant Center in – just in case you missed the chorus – Hershey, Hershey, Hershey!

Not long after that, the Bonner & Prendergast boys punched their ticket to Hershey. Didn’t take long at all, the Friars effectively putting Lower Moreland away in the third quarter of an 83-47 decision in the Class 4A bracket.

Two of the most memorable moments in those games came from players who didn’t lead their teams in scoring but belong in the One Shining Moment highlights.

(click on this link for the full story)