Downingtown East, Bishop Shanahan renew rivalry in Ches-Mont title game

The top rivalry in the Ches-Mont League is set to add another classic to its resume.

Downingtown East and Bishop Shanahan meet for the third time this season, but this matchup is the biggest game of the year for two of the elite teams in the Ches-Mont.

The league title is on the line tonight, 7 p.m. at West Chester East High School.

Despite the rivalry renewing, East and Shanahan players insist this is just another game between the two schools. Instead, they were more focused on playing for a league championship.

“We’re just really excited to be here (in the championship game),’ said East’s Lindsay Kent. “Being able to play in this game is an awarding thing for us.’

“It didn’t matter to us who we were going to play,’ said Kaelyn Johns. “We know we can win and just want to keep building momentum. Their program (Shanahan) has definitely developed over the last few years. As they’re getting better, so has the rivalry. It’ll be a close one.’

“You just have to look at it as another chance to play them,’ Parker said. “We just have to start at the beginning. The first two games don’t mean that much. This is what we worked for all season. This game is just another step and we look to go further.’

“It’s just like playing anyone else,’ said Ciara Forde. “They’re a good team, but we’re ready for them. I’m just excited to play in a championship game. Those are the best games where you have to go hard and play tough.’

The Cougars fell to Shanahan twice this season, losing by three points in both meeetings. They’ll have the experience heading into tonight’s championship game after falling to Rustin for the title last year. Paige Warfel, the Ches-Mont’s leading scorer (17.8 ppg), is aware Shanahan will have to beat the Cougars once again in order to win the title.

“All the pressure seems to be on them,’ Warfel said. “Regardless, we know we got to do our best. We’re just ready to come out and win this title.’

“We’re excited to have another opportunity to play them,’ said Shanahan’s Grace Phillips. “This is our program’s first time in the championship game, so we’re excited and ready to win.’

Shanahan is seeking its first Ches-Mont title and first overall league title since 2000, when it was a member of the Southern Chester County League. The Eagles have three league titles overall, the first coming in 1971 (Archdiocese of Philadelphia “B’), 1980 (SCCL) and 2000 (SCCL regular season).

Downingtown East has won the Ches-Mont 19 times under head coach Bob Schnure, but none since 2010 (the year before the Ches-Mont added the Final Four format). East hasn’t lost since falling to Shanahan on January 15. Since then, the Cougars have won nine straight game en route to the championship game.

“I’m real proud of these kids,’ Schnure said. “They’ve done a real good job to get to this point. The last few games they’ve been sharp, so we just have to try and keep that rolling.’

Shanahan head coach Fran Burbidge believes his team can be on the verge of something special tonight if the Eagles play their game. The first two games against East are off Shanahan’s radar.

“Both game scould have gone either way,’ Burbidge said. “We could be sitting 0-2 against them instead of 2-0. Hopefully there is no added pressure, but kids are kids. I know what type of program they (East) are and certainly don’t see them as an underdog in a championship atmosphere.’

Round three of East-Shanahan is expected to be a great game between two of the best teams in the Ches-Mont over the last two years. The first two meetings this season didn’t end in disappointment.

One more time, only this one is for the title.

Ches-Mont Girls Basketball Championship

Bishop Shanahan (11-1 National, 20-3 overall) vs. Downingtown East (10-2 National, 18-5 overall)

Previous meetings this season — Bishop Shanahan defeated Downingtown East 42-39 on December 11 (at Downingtown East). Bishop Shanahan defeated Downingtown East 37-34 on January 15 (at Bishop Shanahan).


Downingtown East and Bishop Shanahan will meet for the third time this season in the Ches-Mont Championship game. The Cougars are looking for their first Ches-Mont title since 2010 while the Eagles seek their first Ches-Mont title in school history (last title was Southern Chester County League regular season championship in 2000). East has lost both meetings to Shanahan this season by a combined six points and had a chance to tie it on the final possession in both games. The Cougars are on a season-high nine game winning streak, whith the last loss coming to Shanahan. They ended West Chester Rustin’s 40-game league winning streak with a 57-40 win in the Ches-Mont Final Four Saturday. The Eagles have won four of their last five games including a 47-31 win over Unionville in the Ches-Mont Final Four Saturday, the first league playoff win in school history.

Bishop Shanahan starting 5 (projected) — Ciara Forde (Jr., 11.6 ppg), Grace Phillips (Jr., 8.0 ppg), Devon Adams (Fr., 9.0 ppg), Rachel Parker (Sr., 3.0 ppg), Jamie Powers (Sr., 2.4 ppg).

Downingtown East starting 5 (projected) — Paige Warfel (Jr., 18.7 ppg), Kaelyn Johns (Sr., 6.9 ppg), Lindsay Kent (Jr., 7.5 ppg), Laura Ochsner (Jr., 6.4 ppg), Tori Barretta (5.8 ppg).

Bishop Shanahan on offense

The Eagles defeated Downingtown East in two different ways from their previous meetings this season. In the first meeting, Kelly Basile (6.2 ppg) scored 13 points, including hitting the tying layup with 1:14 left while being fouled. She hit the free throw to give the Eagles the lead for good. In the second game, Adams was dominant in the post scoring 17 points, including the go-ahead layup with 1:42 left. Head coach Fran Burbidge will look to feed Adams the ball in the post again, while a combination of Kent, Ochsner and Warfel will guard her. Forde averaged 11 points in both meetings againjst East and will look to penetrate the lane with Johns or Barretta defending her on the perimeter. If the Eagles look to run similar to the game plan they used to defeat Unionville Saturday, expect Basile, Kelly Cox (3.0 ppg) and Mikayla Maxwell (3.0 ppg) to provide a scoring punch off the bench.

Downingtown East on offense

The Cougars will likely play their starting five players all game, similar to the win over West Chester Rustin Saturday. All five players are well-conditioned and can play all 32 minutes if needed. Warfel is averaging 21.3 points over her last eight games and is expected to be the focal point of the offense on the perimeter and down in the paint. Forde, Phillips and Adams will split the duties of guarding the Ches-Mont’s leading scorer. Johns facilitates the offense at the point and is dangerous from 3-point range. Powers was assigned

to her for most of the first two meetings but Forde will provide help as well. With East preferring to swing the ball and find the open shot, Kent and Ochsner should find plenty of looks in the paint. Barretta is projected to start in place of Aryah Aungst (7.5 ppg), who is expected to miss her fifth straight game with an injury. She’s had 19 points in her last two games, despite only having four varsity starts.

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