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Archbishop Carroll persevering through peaks and valleys

Philadelphia >> During the course of a season a team will experience peaks and valleys. Senior Harlem Jennings and Junior Erin Sweeney have certainly experienced both throughout their career as members of the Archbishop Carroll girls’ basketball squad.
Jennings and Sweeney also know one way to traverse those challenges is to buy into the coaching staff’s philosophy and have belief in one another.
“The coaches have been very helpful getting everyone ready and getting everyone to buy into their roles,” Sweeney said following their contest against Shipley in the Jim Munn Memorial Bracket of the 12th annual Blue Star Elite Showcase at Jefferson University Jan. 6.
Jennings added, “The coaches have done a great job of passing the message to the senior class and then we pass the message to our younger players which has definitely helped us support one another and stay together.”
This season, particularly the first week of January, has been a prime example of the highs and lows Carroll experienced. On Jan. 4, the Patriots hosted reigning District 12 champion and PIAA Class 5A state runner-up Archbishop Wood and earned a hard-fought 43-33 win. Two days later, Carroll traveled to Jefferson University to face two-time reigning Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association champion Shipley. Carroll fell behind 35-20 midway through the third quarter before clawing their way back before eventually succumbing 51-47.
Helping fuel the comeback was the single word that the coaching staff preaches on a daily basis – defense.
“We talk everyday about the importance of defense,” said Carroll head coach Renie Shields. “We tell them if they let offense dictate our play then they might as well go home. You can shoot 20 percent one day or you can shoot 50 percent. The one constant is to let them know about the importance of defense dictating the offense.”
With defense on display, it’s the little things you begin to notice such as getting deflections that lead to steals. With the upperclassmen leading by example, the younger players are beginning to follow.
Against Shipley, senior Mary DeSimone, junior Erin Sweeney and freshman Grace O’Neill came up with big deflections that led to steals that led to baskets which allowed Carroll to climb back within striking distance.
“No doubt our leaders have shown our incoming kids the way,” said Shields. “Their play has definitely helped the younger kids relax. If they make a mistake, they shake it off and focus on the next play.”
Jennings, who chipped in with 13 points said, “The younger players have definitely come up big with deflections and steals. It’s the little things that have played a key role in our success.”
With the heart of Catholic League play on the horizon, each game has given the youthful Patriots a lift in its own way as they continue to learn how to overcome the challenges their opponents raise.
“These games have given us confidence that we can compete against anyone and that we just have to continue to support each other and keep in mind that our defense dictates our offense,” said Sweeney, who paced Carroll with 19 points against Shipley.



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