Like her Bishop Shanahan squad, 6-foot-2 senior forward Courtney Warley, the Daily Local News 2016-17 All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year, really came into her own the last two months of the season.
“Courtney has always been a good rebounder and defender, and always played hard, but this season she began to understand that she had the ability to be a lead offensive player, and in the last 2 ½ months of the season, she really took off,” said Shanahan head coach Fran Burbidge.
Warley closed her senior year with a bang, passing the 1,000 career point milestone (she finished with 1,166). Meanwhile, the Eagles soared to their third consecutive Ches-Mont League championship after getting off to a rocky start in the 2016-17 campaign.
The Manhattan College-bound Warley led the way for the Eagles in the postseason, as Shanahan finished third in the District 1 tournament, then took eventual state champion Archbishop Wood all the way down to the wire in the second round of the PIAA Class 5A tournament, siting tied with Wood with 29 seconds left in regulation before falling short.
“Courtney was a marked player the last 2 ½ months of the season,” said Burbidge. “Even though everybody was aware of her scoring ability, and they would defend against her accordingly, she still was our leading offensive player.
“And she did so many things for us besides scoring. She ran the floor, was a great leader and a great free throw shooter. She also took pressure off our team by alleviating presses. When other teams would put a press on us, whether it was man-to-man press or zone press, we would put the ball in her hands to pass out of it or dribble through it if there was a favorable matchup.”
In the Ches-Mont final against Coatesville, Warley blocked six shots and scored a team-high 14 points to lead the Eagles to a 47-39 win. In the District 1 opener, Warley scored 22 points (12 in the paint) in a 43-39 win. She then tallied a game-high 17 points against host Villa Maria in the district quarterfinal for a 37-30 victory.
For Warley, the win against Villa Maria was her most vivid memory of the postseason. Her two younger sisters, Morgan and Myla, play for the Hurricanes, and the Eagles had lost to Villa earlier in the season.
“Their gym was small and the crowd was packed, the energy and stakes were high and as a team we just soaked it all in and believed we were more than capable of winning this game,” said Warley. “Every player and coach for us connected in that game, and we were all on the same page. It was very cool to experience that connection and energy because that doesn’t happen in many games.”
Throughout her young life, basketball has been a family affair for Courtney Warley. Her father Carlin scored more than 1,000 points for St. Joseph’s University; her mother Cherie grabbed more than 1,000 rebounds during her career at West Chester East; her older sister Casey (a Rustin grad) plays basketball for Bloomsburg University; and her younger sister Morgan came up with some big performances this past season as a freshman for Villa Maria Academy. During Casey’s last two years at Rustin, Courtney played alongside her older sister before transferring to Bishop Shanahan prior to her junior year.
“I started playing basketball before I can remember,” said Warley. “Since I was a little girl I’ve been playing and when there wasn’t a team [in my age group] I would play up with Casey. My biggest [basketball] mentor is most definitely my mom. She coached me when I was younger and gave me such a strong fundamental [knowledge]. I’d always hear stories about how hard she played every second of every game. That is something that I definitely try to strive for, and I look up to her so much for everything.”
Earlier in the season, when Warley scored her 1,000th career point in a game against West Chester East, her family was on hand.
“The moment [I scored my 1,000th point] was surreal, especially when my whole team and family came onto the court cheering and hugging me, with balloons and posters and gifts,” said Warley. “I’m proud of myself that I was able to do it, but I most definitely owe [reaching the milestone] to my parents, and my [grandparents], and my coach. They have supported me so much and without them I would not have been able to do 99 percent of the things I have done, on and off the court.”
Before receiving her scholarship offer from Manhattan, Warley had received offers from NJIT, George Mason, Philadelphia University and Niagara University. She will be majoring in business and plans to eventually become an event coordinator.
“When I first visited Manhattan I felt as if I was home,” said Warley. “Everyone I met — the coaches, players, teachers and advisors, were all so welcoming and there was a sense of comfort I had with all of them. An added bonus is that it is really the best of both worlds — the school is in a little town that’s kind of like West Chester, but it’s only 10 minutes from one of the greatest cities in the world.”