PHILADELPHIA >> Thursday night, Archbishop Carroll found out where it is as a team and where it wants to be.
The Patriots got leads three times in the first half but were unable to keep up with defending Philadelphia Catholic League champion Archbishop Wood in the semifinal round of the league playoffs at Philadelphia University.
Bella Sorrentino scored nine points, Theresa Kearney eight as the Patriots surrendered a 52-37 decision.
The Vikings (18-6) oppose Cardinal O’Hara for the PCL title Monday at 6:30 p.m. at The Palestra. Wood beat Neumann-Goretti in the title game last year, then won the PIAA Class 3A state title.
“I think Wood’s a more seasoned team than we are,” Carroll coach Renie Shields said. “They play together year round. They’re good at what they do. They’re defending champs and a lot of that has to do with the confidence they play with. I don’t think we have that confidence yet. I don’t think we trust ourselves doing things that we’re not comfortable doing. Once we get there we can be very good. But we competed for three quarters. They got the better of us in the last quarter.”
The Patriots (17-7) can atone for the loss when they take on Palumbo in a PIAA District 12 Class 5A third-place game Wednesday at Archbishop Ryan.
“The Catholic League is over for us but not the season,” said Sorrentino, one of a handful of Patriots seniors. “We have to keep fighting. In the beginning of this game we were really close. Towards the end we were like panicking and turning the ball over when they were trapping us. It just kind of went downhill from there. We prepared but the trap really killed us. And they just moved the ball really well.”
Cassie Sebold scored 16 points to lead three Vikings in double figures. Katie May contributed 12 points, her sister Shannon 11.
“We needed to come out with more energy,” Kearney said. “We were prepared for the game. It stinks that we didn’t come out the way we prepared. This being our senior year it’s awesome to have another game to play. Win this game and anything can happen.”
Down by one possession at the intermission, the Patriots continued their struggles at the offensive end against a solid defense. They didn’t get their first basket of the second half until three minutes elapsed. Including the last three minutes and change of the first half, the Patriots produced just one field goal in six minutes.
But Carroll wouldn’t go away.
Four Patriots scored in a 9-0 run capped by Sorrentino’s 3-pointer, pulling them within 31-30 with 1:51 to go in the period.
Unfortunately for Carroll, Sebold found holes in the transition and baseline defense, scoring the last four points of the quarter to boost the Vikings to a 35-30 lead heading into the last eight minutes.
The Vikings continued to attack the baseline with Katie May scoring four points to ignite an 8-3 run producing a double-digit lead. The Patriots trailed by as many as 17 points.
At that point Wood coach Mike McDonald played keep-away with his small lineup, one which the Patriots couldn’t catch.
“They ended up taking away my right hand,” Kearney said. “There were some close calls. And I should have probably looked for my teammates to kick it out more when they started cutting that off.”
The Patriots expected to be double teamed. They knew about the Vikings’ vaunted fullcourt press. Playing against it is another matter.
There were two lead changes in a deliberately played first quarter that ended in a 9-9 stalemate.
Point guard Shannon May scored six points for the Vikings.
The Patriots established themselves in the blocks early in the second quarter, Kearney converting two and-ones, the second after beating the Vikings’ press to produce a 15-13 lead.
But Maggie Pina’s 3-pointer gave the Patriots their last lead of the half, as the Vikings scored seven of the last nine points in the quarter to roll into the intermission with a 23-20 advantage.
The last few minutes of the half were rough as the Vikings alternated double-teams on the scorers and the guards, both of which knocked the Patriots out of sync and led to turnovers.
“When we went on those runs they would double us and give us very few looks,” Shields said. “And that sort of starts to drain you. Wood is just such a seasoned team. They don’t deviate from what they do, they do it very well and they continue to do it. I’m confident we can correct some of our mistakes and we can compete. Obviously our first goal is to beat Palumbo next week.”
Top Photo: Archbishop Carroll’s Theresa Kearney (21) collides with Archbishop Wood’s Shannon May (3) in their Philadelphia Catholic League semifinal at Philadelphia University on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2017. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)