READING — Bonner & Prendergast is the complete package.
The Pandas run, shoot and defend. And they have players who dominate the low post with their combination of size and athleticism.
They had some tough setbacks this winter, but are built for the long run in the PIAA Class 4A tournament.
After a 73-47 romp of District 3’s Bishop McDevitt, the Bonner & Prendie girls team joined the boys team in their respective PIAA Final Four showdowns.
“This is our best team we’ve had in the last four years. We all want it,” said senior guard Maeve McCann, who was outstanding. “We’re all trying our very best. We’ve improved our defense so much, it’s crazy. Having everyone’s shots falling, and having everyone on the same page, it changes the whole entire game.
“Even from the regular season, we just have a whole new mindset.”
Bonner & Prendergast will meet Bethlehem Catholic in the semifinal round Tuesday.
After falling a win short of the state final a season ago, the Pandas have a swagger about them this year that says, “We’re coming for it all.”
At Reading High’s Geigle Complex Saturday, Bonner & Prendie shot 26-for-53 from the floor, including 9-for-23 from beyond the arc. They scored at least 17 points in each quarter and made nine 3-point baskets.
It was a thoroughly impressive offensive performance.
‘We didn’t think we would win by over 20 points the last three games,” McCann said when asked if the Pandas expected to be in this position, two wins shy of the school’s first state title.
“It’s also because everyone is giving it their all,” she added, “and it’s honestly a lot of fun.”
The Pandas destroyed the same team that put up 70 points against Lansdale Catholic in the second round of the tournament.
“Number 21 (Treasure George) is a good player, we had to worry about her,” Bonner & Prendie coach Tom Stewart said. “They just didn’t get any inside scoring. We kind of controlled that part of the game. They have good shooters.”
McDevitt shot a woeful 25 percent (15-for-60). It was evident the Pandas were the better squad in the first half when they used a 21-5 run to take a 34-14 lead. It was a 40-point advantage in the fourth period when Stewart decided to call off the dogs.
“In watching their film, it looked like they were a great team,” McCann said. “We definitely focused on trying to shut down their key players.”
George scored 21 points for the Crusaders (23-5). The senior scored her 1,000th point in the fourth quarter, which might explain her 25 attempted shots. By late in the second quarter McDevitt went from trying to hang with the Pandas to making sure George got her special moment.
Dakota McCaughan led three Pandas (20-9) in double figures. The exciting junior guard poured in 22 points and shot 4-for-9 from 3-point distance. McCaughan dished out six assists and made three steals.
McCann, the team’s senior leader, added 16 points, three assists and three steals. Junior forward Alexis Gleason tallied nine of her 17 points in the third quarter and grabbed six rebounds.
Senior power forward Ariana McGeary chipped in with five points and a game-high nine rebounds. Bridie McCann netted seven points off the bench.
“Lately we have been meshing so well,” McCaughan said. “Everybody is sharing the ball and it’s really helping us. It’s great to everyone is really contributing to the wins.”
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