For our first team, which includes Player of the Year Taylor O’Brien of Plymouth Whitemarsh, we tried to find players who stood out not only for their skill, but also their ability to impact a game in more than one way. It’s a six-player lineup that any coach would love to have and also one that wasn’t selected easily because there is a lot of talent to pull from.
Joining O’Brien as first team all-area selections are North Penn seniors Sam Carangi and Irisa Ye, Abington senior Lizzie O’Leary, Archbishop Wood junior Katie May and Souderton junior Kate Connolly. On paper, it’s a pretty traditional-looking lineup with three guards, two forwards and a wing that can play either position.
It’s also a group defined by their versatility and impact on both ends of the floor. All could score, three of them reaching 1,000 points this winter, but they did plenty more and either led or were right at the top of their team’s leaderboard in multiple statistics like rebounding, steals and so on.
Not surprisingly, none of these six players came off the floor very often for their teams. When they did, things just didn’t flow as well on either end. May, for example, played all 32 minutes of the PIAA Class 5A final and most of the second half with four fouls because she simply had to be out there.
Carangi, who did reach the 1,000-point marker around midseason, wasn’t her team’s top scorer, but the Villanova recruit filled the stat sheet every night. The 5-foot-9 guard led the Knights in at least one of rebounding, assists, steals and even blocks most nights, if not multiple of those categories. A steady ball-handler and excellent defender, Carangi set the pace on both ends of the floor for the Suburban One League Continental Conference champion. Asked to become the team’s point guard the last two seasons, Carangi grew into the role so well, it was nearly impossible to press the Knights.
Perhaps no player in the area played harder than Ye on a nightly basis. A 5-foot-9 lockdown defender, Ye was as likely to force a steal or tie-up as she was to beat everyone else down the floor for an easy layup off a defensive stop. On top of her defensive prowess, the senior had a keen eye for finding mismatches on offense and taking advantage. Comitted to USciences, Ye is a firm believer hustle carries as much weight as anything else on the court.
O’Leary, as the sole senior on Abington’s roster, was indispensable both for her leadership but also the work she did with rebounding, blocking shots and playing interior defense. The Delaware recruit led the Ghosts in rebounds and blocks and perhaps most impressively, was one of the team’s leaders in steals. Abington’s run to the district final wouldn’t have been possible without the 6-foot-2 center, who scored her 1,000th point during the campaign.
Souderton knew it had a good core coming back and that only got better when Connolly transferred back to her hometown school. The 6-foot-2 junior showed she could score from anywhere and in any way possible, had a knack for hitting the big shots in moments when the Indians needed them and no surprise, was a team leader in rebounds and blocks. The past two years, Connolly was part of the system at Wood, but by the end of her junior year, seemed more comfortable being the go-to player late in games. Expectations will be high for Souderton next season with the entire rotation coming back.
Wood was a little undersized this season, so May had to play more in the post on both ends of the floor. It fit her skillset perfectly. A very accurate outside shooter, the junior still knocked down plenty of shots, but her passing set up tons of Wood’s backdoor layups and she was the team’s best interior defender, shot-blocker and rebounder. Her state final stat line says it all with five points, seven rebounds, five assists and seven blocks. A Northeastern recruit, May will be the team’s leader next season as Wood tries to remain a contender in the PCL and state.
Taylor O’Brien, Plymouth Whitemarsh
Sam Carangi, North Penn
Irisa Ye, North Penn
Lizzie Oleary, Abington
Katie May, Archbishop Wood
Kate Connolly, Souderton
Jess Huber, North Penn
Natalie Kucowski, St. Basil
Cassie Sebold, Archbishop Wood
Shannon May, Archbishop Wood
Alexa Naessens, Germantown Academy
Lauren Crim, Lansdale Catholic
Ashley Smith, Mount St. Joseph
Josie Barrett, Upper Dublin
Rachael Millan, Lower Moreland
Jade Young, Abington Friends
Jen Kremp, Jenkintown