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Doogan leads Cardinal O’Hara into new era

New Cardinal O'Hara head coach Chrissie Doogan addresses her players at practice Thursday.
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Chrissie Doogan was the perfect fit to take over the Cardinal O’Hara girls basketball program.

An assistant coach under the legendary Linus McGinty, who retired in March after 24 years as head coach of the Lions, Doogan is well-aware of the expectations. She is, after all, one of the school’s all-time greats, a two-time Catholic League MVP and Daily Times Player of the Year.

PETE BANNAN – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
Cardinal O’Hara senior guard Kerry Patterson at practice Thursday.

There’s no such thing as rebuilding at O’Hara, although Doogan admits the squad will look different.

Maura Hendrixson, the 2018 Daily Times Player of the Year, and fellow All-Delco guard Kenzie Gardler (Villanova) are no longer around. Their graduation officially ended an amazing era of girls basketball at O’Hara.

Hendrixson and Gardler comprised one-half of a Division I quartet, joined by two-time Player of the Year Hannah Nihill (Drexel) and All-Delco Mary Sheehan (Saint Joseph’s),  that led the Lions to back-to-back Catholic League titles. The superstar foursome was largely responsible for O’Hara’s status as the No. 1 team in Delco, three years running, and one of the best programs in the state.

Doogan trusts the 2018-19 Lions can maintain the tradition of excellence. Former role players will be called upon to lead. Kerry Patterson, a senior guard, can dribble, shoot and defend. She was a perfect complement to Hendrixson and Gardler, and has been a varsity member since her freshman year.

Erin Welde excelled off the bench in recent years, but like Patterson, the senior guard is expected to see her duties expand. Stephanie Huseby transferred to O’Hara last winter and thrived in a starting role. Huseby and sophomore Siobhan Boylan are 5-10 power forwards who give the Lions a dual inside presence.

“We will have a new look from the past few years, but a similar style,” said Doogan, who was an assistant at O’Hara

Cardinal O’Hara junior forward Stephanie Huseby at practice Thursday.

the last five seasons. “I expect Patterson and Welde to provide senior leadership and help the newcomers adjust early to high school basketball.”

Amaris Baker, a 5-9 sophomore guard, is a transfer from Baldwin. Freshmen incoming talent include guards Sydni Scott (5-9) and Nicole Blanch (5-4), and forwards Annie Welde (5-11) and Maggie Doogan. Welde is the younger sister of Erin, and Doogan is the coach’s daughter.

“If the newcomers can mesh with the core group we have coming back,” Chrissie Doogan said, “this could be a fun team to watch.”

Elsewhere in the Catholic League:

Bonner & Prendergast is set up to make another run in the PIAA playoffs, and perhaps this season take a step closer to vying for a Catholic League crown.

The Pandas made a somewhat surprising journey to the PIAA Class 4A semifinals last season, falling to undefeated Lancaster Catholic, which captured the state title.

“We return four players who played a lot of minutes last year in our run through states,” longtime Pandas coach Tom Stewart said. “We have some newcomers who will provide depth over the course of the season. We’re hoping to be very competitive in the Catholic League and hoping to make another run at a state title.”

The pieces are in place for the Pandas to do just that. Junior guard Dakota McCaughan is one of the most electrifying players in the county. Maeve McCann is a savvy senior guard. Senior center Arianna McGeary (5-10) and junior forward/center Alexis Gleason (5-11) give the Pandas a one-two punch inside the paint.

Archbishop Carroll is also coming off a run to the final four of the state tournament. The Patriots lost to Mars Area in the Class 5A semifinals.

The Patriots will have a tough time replacing All-Delco guard Molly Masciantonio, who was among the top scorers in the county the last three years. Harlem Jennings, a senior guard/forward, was excellent in her initial season at Carroll. Jennings is a stellar defensive player who is at her best offensively when driving to the basket.

Other key returners for the Patriots include sharp-shooting junior guard/forward Erin Sweeney, sophomore guard Karli Dougherty and senior guard Mary deSimone.

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