PHILADELPHIA >> Don’t mess with a good thing.
Sure, it was an all-star game more meant on having fun and showing off a little bit than to go hard after a win, but there was no way Sam Carangi, Irisa Ye and Jess Huber could step on a court and not play North Penn basketball. Plus, it was the last chance for the senior trio to play on the same team, so they wanted to make the most of it.
They did their usual things and combined for 23 points as they helped Suburban beat City in the All-Star Labor Classic Sunday afternoon at Philadelphia University.
“It was really nice, the coaches put us together in a group,” Carangi said. “We had the dynamic and I think you could see that on the court when we played together.”
Of course, they weren’t going to play every minute of the game like they so often did during their careers as Knights. Archbishop Wood head coach Mike McDonald, who headed up the Suburban side, did keep the three together most of the time they were on the floor.
Regardless of who else was on the floor with the three North Penn seniors, they were really, really effective. Their first shift saw Carangi sink a long 3-pointer, Huber hit a three and another score and Ye get inside for a finish as their lineup turned a close score into a lopsided one.
All three are playing collegiately, with Ye and Huber continuing as teammates at USciences next year while Carangi will head to Villanova. So they wanted to make the most of Sunday’s opportunity to share the same floor.
“Sam got me the ball where I needed it and got everyone else involved,” Ye said.
“For it being the last time we were going to play together, it was nice to see everyone clicking,” Carangi said.
Huber, Ye and Carangi shared time with St Basil’s Natalie Kucowski, Abington’s Lizzie O’Leary and Wood’s Cassie Sebold and Meg Neher during their runs together. Carangi also had a spell running point for a different lineup and ended up adding four assists, two steals and two rebounds to go with her six points.
Huber had nine points, two rebounds, two steals and a block while Ye scored six with two offensive boards, two assists and a pair of steals. That’s very much North Penn basketball too, don’t just score the ball, do a little bit of everything else.
There’s a reason why the Knights were so successful during the trio’s four-year run and it was because they played almost every game that way.
“I wanted people to think of us as a running team that plays good defense and fundamental basketball,” Ye said. “That’s always what I wanted people to think of when they hear North Penn basketball.”
For all that they did achieve including a District I title, four straight state playoff appearances, three SOL Continental titles and 101 wins, they had wanted to have a little more success. Seeing their season end in the state semifinals last year and the state quarters this year still stings but Ye and Carangi noted there’s still plenty of positives to look at.
The 101 wins in particular stand out because it wasn’t something they did in just one year.
“That means we averaged 25 wins a season and I think that’s crazy,” Carangi said. “Some people don’t even get to play 25 games in one season so they fact we averaged 25 wins, it speaks to our class.”
“I never thought about getting 100 wins,” Ye said. “We all just like to win and I think it’s a sign that our competitiveness got us there.”
After being part of the varsity roster for four years, Ye, Huber and Carangi hoped they set a high bar for the next era of Knights. It’s going to take some adjusting to see a North Penn team without any of those three on it next season but it will still be North Penn basketball.
“I think they want to reach those same goals too and keep the legend of North Penn girls basketball going,” Carangi said. “We don’t want letdowns.”
“It’s the family, the memories and all the connections we made over the years is what’s more important than any championship,” Ye said. “We tried to set a good example this year like the seniors set a great example in our freshman year. We strived for even better so what we set, I’m sure the girls are going to do even better.”
Sebold scored two points, had three assists and two steals while Wood teammate Meg Neher had three rebounds. Shannon May was also on the roster but sat out while resting a shoulder injury incurred during the state tournament.
O’Leary had two points, two rebounds and two blocks. She was the lone senior from the district champion Ghosts this season.
Kucowski, who had six rebounds was joined by Panthers teammate Kate Dougherty. Germantown Academy senior Abby Starzecky and Lilly Bolen were on the roster but Bolen sat out, still recovering from a late-season knee injury. Cheltenham’s Mia Leonard rounded out the area representatives. Central Bucks East seniors Bridgit Birkhead and Bri Talbot also played for the Suburban team.
Also on the Suburban roster was Merion Mercy’s Jada Smith and Wildwood Catholic’s Caitlyn McMullin. Smith’s father, Jermaine Smith, played for the City Team in the 1990 Labor Classic. Jada finances a scholarship and award for a female scholar athlete at her middle school, the GESU School, each year.
Top Photo: North Penn’s Jess Huber leads the Suburban charge upcourt during the All-Star Labor Classic on Sunday, April 9, 2017. (Rick Cawley/For Digital First Media)