POTTSTOWN >> Archbishop Wood had been practicing for it all week long.
The Vikings knew that at some point, Bishop Shanahan was going to drop into a 1-3-1 zone defense so they wanted to be ready. For almost 31 minutes Thursday night, all the preparation looked like it was going to be for nothing. The Eagles simply had not used that defense all game.
Then, they did and Katie May was ready for it.
The junior forward’s three-point play with 28.1 seconds left provided the winning point in an eventual 28-25 Viking victory in the second round of the PIAA Class 5A girls basketball tournament at Pottstown High School.
“We’ve been working on their 1-3-1 all week and they only ran it once, but we were ready for it,” May said. “When we get in the corner the opposite person has to flash, Shannon (May) looked for me and it worked.”
Neither team shot the ball well, partly because of defense and partly because neither team was shooting the ball well. Wood led 5-2 after the first quarter and Shanahan led 10-7 at half thanks to a Sammie McCarter 3-pointer that banked in late in the second quarter. The Vikings were in a slump going back to their first-round game, but Thursday just took it to a new extreme.
If not for their defense and a couple of huge shots by sophomore reserve Mia Andrews, they might not have been able to get that late basket. Andrews had six points, hitting a 3-pointer in the third quarter that gave Wood a 17-16 lead then had a traditional three-point play, off a Katie May assist, that gave Wood a 22-21 fourth quarter lead.
“I’m just thinking what do I have to do to improve or help my team,” Andrews said. “We knew we weren’t knocking down shots and for me, it was all about what do I have to do in order to help my team start to do that. I’m looking to either create plays or maybe even take it to the basket myself.”
Shanahan played a couple of defenses, but went mostly to a box-and-one with Jen Sendi doing everything she could to keep May from getting in the post and getting the ball. May, a Northeastern recruit, makes a lot of Wood’s offense go and teams have naturally tried to slow her down. Given that her only basket was the winner, the Eagles almost accomplished their goal.
Shanahan coach Fran Burbidge went a little inverted on Thursday to try and throw Wood off. Instead of his guards, he had forwards Courtney Warley and Kathryn Greenhut do most of the transition ballhandling, just to counter Wood’s pressure.
“We know how good they are and we had to choose our poison so to speak,” Burbidge said. “We felt we could at least run at them and try to rush their shots. Even some where they were set, they didn’t knock them down. We had a chance at the end, it’s like I told the kids, it wasn’t for a lack of competing, it wasn’t for a lack of confidence that we could win the game.”
Likewise, his defensive plan was a little inverted. The Eagles didn’t want to get beat by Wood’s off-ball cuts and ball-movement into layups. Instead, Shanahan packed the interior and was willing to let Wood make catches on the perimeter and take its chances running at shooters.
“They played their zone well, they did a nice job throwing out of double-teams, they let Warley handle the ball a lot and she did a nice job against us,” Wood coach Mike McDonald said. “Instead of making them take tough shots, we were giving them some easy shots right at the basket and we didn’t want to do that. We only had 28 points, but we didn’t give up a ton, it’s just offensively, we have to make shots.”
Both coaches were hit with technical fouls but neither led to a momentum shift one way or the other. After Wood’s Cassie Sebold hit a technical foul free throw to put the Vikings up 23-21, Greenhut scored with 1:27 left to tie the game.
Wood ran some clock, then called timeout with 33.1 left, setting up the decisive possession.
“Shannon made a nice rip to draw the defense and we talked about when they went 1-3-1, that opposite guard spot was open,” McDonald said. “The wing and the bottom person trap and the middle person drops low and the other person is the help on the baseline. The only other person that’s open is the opposite guard, so we made it aware they had to flash in, and they finally did it at the end there.”
Wood will face Wyoming Valley West in the quarterfinal round on Saturday.
Shanahan’s season is done, but after missing states last year, it was a step in the right direction even with the graduation of seniors like Warley, Sendi and Kelly Basile.
“Our guys, a lot of them, we’re just figuring out how to play at this level,” Burbidge said. “I was just really happy that our confidence and competitiveness allowed them to be right in this game.”
Archbishop Wood 28, Bishop Shanahan 25
Bishop Shanahan 3 7 6 9 – 25
Archbishop Wood 5 2 10 11 – 28
Bishop Shanahan (25): Sammie McCarter 2 0-0 6, Jen Sendi 0 2-2 2, Kathryn Greenhut 5 1-3 11, Courtney Warley 2 2-5 6. Nonscoring: Kelly Basile. Totals: 9 5-10 25.
Archbishop Wood (28): Shannon May 1 0-0 2, Cassie Sebold 3 4-5 10, Katie May 1 1-1 3, Meg Neher 2 0-0 4, Ryleigh Parsons 1 0-0 3, Mia Andrews 2 1-1 6. Nonscoring: Brown, Arcidiacono, Greenberg, Morgan, Tretter. Totals: 10 6-7 28.
3-pointers: BS – McCarter 2; AW – Andrews, Parsons.