West Goshen >> Thirty minutes before the Bishop Shanahan-Coatesville clash for the Ches-Mont League girls’ basketball championship Wednesday night at West Chester East High School, Eagles’ head coach Fran Burbidge said, “We can’t let Coatesville get us into a track meet. I’m sure they’re going to press, trap and try quick shots tonight. We need to keep our composure.”
Playing at a somewhat slower pace than Coatesville, passing the ball frequently in search of an open look, Shanahan took a small early lead and kept it the entire game, winning 47-39 for its third consecutive Ches-Mont title.
“Our players did a good job passing the ball, getting spacing and not jacking it up [to the basket] on the first pass,” said Burbidge after the game. “They got their looks in rhythym and did a good job keeping their compsoure. A few of our possessions tonight were off-kilter, but that’s high school basketball. We were tough rebounding the ball, and that’s a heck of a basketball team [we] just beat.”
Coatesville, the regular season National Division champions, had just come off an 85-41 win against West Chester Rustin in the Ches-Mont semifinals, with star senior guard Dee Dee Irwin scoring a career-high 30 points.
Shanahan’s 1,000-point scorer, senior forward Courtney Warley, who scored a team-high 14 points and blocked six shots Wednesday night, said, “We knew that Coatesville always comes out with a lot of energy, but we didn’t let nerves get to us [tonight]. Our guards made the shots when we needed them, and we got the rebounds when we needed them. We were engaged to get the lead early in the game and keep it.”
Eearly in the first quarter, both teams had a bit of trouble finding their shooting touch, but Shanahan freshman Kathryn Greenhut penetrated inside a couple of times, and the Eagles led 9-7 at the end of the period.
In the second quarter, Irwin, who had just two points in the first period, began to find the mark (she finished with 19 points). Meanwhile, Shanahan senior Jen Sendi hit back-to-back treys midway through the second quarter (she finished with 10 points) as the Eagles built a 26-19 halftime lead.
“We wanted to pass the ball [as much as needed] to look for open shot,” said Sendi. “We felt like the more touches we get, the more we would get the feel of our offense, and get in rhythym.”
Just after halftime, Coatesville came creeping back as Irwin hit another trey and Red Raider senior Brianna White drove in for a layup to cut Shanahan’s lead to 26-25.
But Shanahan then enjoyed a brief surge as Sendi and sophomore Sammie McCarter nailed treys within a minute of each other, and the Eagles were back on top 33-26.
“We knew we had to slow Warley down, but they had other players who were hitting shots tonight, too,” said Coatesville head coach Tem Mack. “We made it close [26-25] in the third quarter, but then [McCarter] hit that three to put them ahead [by five].”
Shanahan senior guard Kelly Basile said, “Our defense really started to turn it on in the third quarter, right around the time of [McCarter’s trey].”
Coatesville remained within a few points into the fourth quarter, and when Red Raider freshman Amaya Douglas hit both ends of a one-and-one with 2:55 left, it cut the Eagles’ lead to 40-37.
Shanahan allowed only one field goal the rest of the way, and Greenhut, Sendi, McCarter and Basile went 6-for-8 at the free throw line down the stretch.
The Eagles spread the scoring around, with a quartet of players combining for 43 points: Greenhut, Sendi, McCarter and Warley.
“Courtney, I think, is the best around — she does so many things,” said Burbidge. “Jen has been a tremendous leader for us. [McCarter] is a baller, a rebounder, a shooter and someone who will stick her nose in there for the ball. [Greenhut] is an emerging freshman [who shows promise].”
On the road to its third straight Ches-Mont championship, Shanahan (16-8) suffered some tough early-season losses.
“This team has a lot of heart,” said Basile. “We started the season slow, but worked really hard to get better.”
Burbidge said, “Each one [of the last three Ches-Mont champion teams] is great in their own way, but [even though] this group lost three league games in its first go-round they continued to believe in themselves and in their coaches. They practiced hard all the time, and they controlled their destiny.”
Bishop Shanahan 47, Coatesville 39
BISHOP SHANAHAN: McCarter 3 2-3 10, Sendi 3 1-2 10, Basile 1 1-2 4, Greenhut 2 5-6 9, Warley 4 6-10 14. Totals 13 15-23 47.
COATESVILLE: White 3 0-2 8, Brown 2 1-2 5, Douglas 1 2-2 4, Irwin 7 3-4 19, Stanton 1 0-0 3. Totals 14 6-10 39.
Bishop Shanahan 9 17 7 14 – 47
Coatesville 7 12 10 10 – 39
3-point goals: Sendi 3, McCarter 2, Basile, Irwin 2, White 2, Stanton.