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Bonner & Prendergast’s state run ends as 31st victim of Lancaster Catholic

Lancaster Catholic's Lauren Mills, left, and Bonner-Prendie's Ariana McGeary try to control the ball in the first quarter of their PIAA semifinal at Downingtown West. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)
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DOWNINGTOWN >> The Bonner & Prendergast boys basketball season ended five days before the girls’ season came to a close.

“People were doubting us all through the playoffs,” Pandas junior Maeve McCann said. “When we played Bethlehem Catholic, they said that would be it for us. After we beat them, when we were going to play Gwynedd Mercy, there were more doubters. But we just kept playing.”

Coach Tom Stewart’s Pandas squad, which captured the District 12 Class 4A championship several weeks ago, saw its dreams of getting to Hershey for the state final shattered by District 3 champion Lancaster Catholic, 66-58, at Downingtown West Saturday afternoon.

Bonner & Prendie’s Dakota McCaughan draws a foul as Lancaster Catholic’s Lauren Mills (3) and Kiki Jefferson defend in the fourth quarter of the teams’ PIAA state semifinal game at Downingtown West High Saturday. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

The Crusaders are now 31-0 on this amazing season. They move on to play District 3 runner-up Berks Catholic in the PIAA Class 4A final in what will be a rematch of their recent district championship contest, which went to Lancaster Catholic 58-47.

Bonner & Prendergast (17-11) and LC were even after one period Saturday (16-16) before the Crusaders poured in the first nine points of the second period. The Pandas got to within four in the closing seconds of the first half, but a missed free throw led to two points at the other end of the floor, leaving Bonner & Prendie trailing by six points at the intermission.

The third period began the way the previous one did, and this time Lancaster Catholic had an 11-0 run before Bonner & Prendergast could answer. An eight-point deficit heading into the final period seemed like a large hurdle to get over, but the Pandas stayed close until 6-0 junior Kiki Jefferson (23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots) took over and finished with nine points and four rebounds in the last eight minutes.

“We came out good today,” Bonner & Prendie coach Tom Stewart said. “Nyah (Garrison, who scored 14 points, pulled down six missed shots, had two assists and two steals, and blocked one shot) was hitting shots, and we were close at the end of the half and on the foul line. But that miss and the basket they got hurt, then they really had a good start in the second half.

“We missed more foul shots than usual today (17-for-28), but I honestly believe in these last four (state) games we played as well as we had played all season.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Bonner & Prendergast vs. Lancaster Catholic

Junior Ariana McGeary came off the bench to give Stewart 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and sophomore guard Dakota McCaughan had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals. McCann’s numbers included eight points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

“Nyah and Emily (Monaghan, who got five points in her last game in a Pandas uniform) were our captains and did a great job for us,” Stewart said. “Among the other seniors (Madison Oxenberg) was our defensive specialist. Katie Logan was our third center, and it’s tough having three seniors out there at the same time, so she didn’t play as much as the others. And Kathleen Triocci never missed a practice and worked so hard. She could have just been a manager, but she wanted a uniform and always tried hard. We will really miss every one of them next season. But I also think all of them who played in this game and will be back will walk out here saying that they can’t wait for next November to get back at it.”

McCann, McGeary, and Amayla Sharif (four points off the bench Saturday) were the juniors who contributed throughout the playoffs. McCaughan and forward Alexis Gleason (four points, three rebounds Saturday) were the key sophomores in the playoff run.

“We knew were going up against an undefeated team who had a really good player (Jefferson) and had people who could shoot,” McCann said. “We saw films of them and knew they were good, but we came here ready to play.

Bonner & Prendie’s Nyah Garrison shoots over Lancaster Catholic’s Marlie Turner Saturday during the Crusaders’ victory over the Pandas in the PIAA Class 4A semifinal round. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“We didn’t get it done today, but we’ll know that when we start practice again next (season) we’ll be able to say we did something this year. And we’ll want to do something like this again.”

McCaughan, who had some Crusaders fans talking about the fact that she was such a talent for a 10th grader, was delighted that both of Bonner & Prendie’s teams got as far as the semifinal round of the state tournament.

“We’re like a family,” she said. “We’d go to the boys games and root for them, and they would come to our games and cheer for us.

“I don’t think anybody thought we could make it past this team and get to the finals. But there were so many who said we weren’t supposed to get wins against other teams that we beat. It just would have been nice if this could have gone on to that next game.”

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