Pope John Paul II’s Bossler goes back to the beginning with Berks Catholic matchup in PIAA 1st round

It’s hard to imagine, but Susan Bossler’s high school career could end at the start.

For the Pope John Paul II senior, it’s “kind of ironic.’

Two years removed from her transfer from Berks Catholic to Pope John Paul II, Bossler’s career has come full circle as the Golden Panthers will take on Berks Catholic in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Spring-Ford High School.

Imagine that.

“I still keep in touch with the girls in my class and some of the underclassmen,’ Bossler said. “They are a great team with a great coach. Coach (Bob) Birmingham helped me develop me into the player I am. I’m excited to play against them. I think we’ll be ready for it.’

Bossler flourished in her first two seasons for Berks Catholic. During her two seasons, Bossler scored 554 points and helped lead her team to its first 20-win season in school history in her sophomore campaign. As a sophomore, Bossler averaged 11.8 points per game while registering 27 3-pointers.

However, after far travel times to her AAU tournaments in the Royersford area had started to become a burden, Bossler made the decision to leave Berks Catholic in favor of PJP.

“When I left Berks Catholic, it was a hard decision for me,’ Bossler said. “I had stumbled upon PJP when I was travelling toward the Royersford area for AAU a lot. (My family) was thinking about moving down there and I thought it’d be a good fit. There were a lot of different factors that went into the decision.’

Her decision had conflicting consequences.

The move to the Royersford never came to fruition (she still makes the 45-50 minute commute to Royersford), but in turn, Bossler has helped PJP reach new heights in her two seasons in the gold and blue.

With her sharp 3-point shooting blending in with a potent PJP offense, the Golden Panthers made the PAC-10 Final Four in each of the past two seasons, all while claiming the program’s first District 1-AAA title game appearance and second PIAA berth her senior season.

On an individual level, Bossler became the first PJP girls basketball player to eclipse 1,000 points, hitting a 3-pointer to hit the mark in the team’s regular season victory over Merion Mercy on Jan. 17.

“It’s incredible. I’ve been dreaming about it since my freshman year. It’s a goal I’ve always wanted to accomplish,’ she said. “Seeing all the signs go up in the air and seeing my teammates come running at me was great. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, my coaches and my family that’s supported me.’

“Doing that there, it really made me feel that PJP was my home and I loved that moment.’

Bossler has found a home at PJP, and now will have a brush with nostalgia on Saturday.

Her career has come full circle. Her best friend, a cheerleader at Berks Catholic, will now have to root against her. Her old teammates and friends will now compete against her.

What does she think?

“I’m excited for it,’ Bossler said. “I love my teammates, my friends and coaches at PJP but I still have the old ties to Berks Catholic. It’ll be interesting but I’m excited for the opportunity.’

PIAA Doings

The Pope John Paul II girls aren’t the only PAC team preparing for a first-round game in the PIAA playoffs. And they aren’t the only one coming off a loss either.

Spring-Ford and Boyertown will spend the next week trying get to realigned to make a deep run that, between the two programs, has extended to the PIAA Final Four for four straight seasons.

Spring-Ford, the No. 4 seed out of District 1, will meet District 12 third-place finisher Archbishop Carroll at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Boyertown (27-2), which earned the final spot (No. 10) from District 1, takes on Pa.’s top-ranked team Cumberland Valley (27-1), the District 3 champ and defending PIAA crown holder, at Harrisburg High School at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

The Rams are coming off back-to-back losses after being thumped by eventual district runner-up Abington (66-43) on Wednesday before falling to Downingtown East in the third-place game 48-31 Saturday evening. Nevertheless, Spring-Ford will enter states as one of the most seasoned teams at this level as state finalists the past two seasons and participants in four-straight state tournaments.

The Bears, meanwhile, have been on a rollercoaster over the past couple weeks, rallying through playbacks after suffering their first loss of the season in the second round to Spring-Ford. But two straight wins, including charging back from a 12-point halftime deficit to down Central Bucks East 51-44 on Wednesday, earned them a PIAA berth.

In the ninth-place game Saturday, Boyertown took its second loss of the year, falling 43-38 to Radnor, which entered districts as the No. 19 seed.

Spring-Ford has faced Boyertown’s opponent, Cumberland Valley, in each of the past three seasons, twice in the PIAA final. This season, in a Sunday game at Villanova’s Pavilion on Jan. 11, the Eagles got 18 points from ‘˜Nova recruit Kelly Jekot in a 54-37 victory.

Speaking of common opponents, Spring-Ford and Archbishop Carroll each met Bonner-Prendergast this season. The Rams were 46-38 winners at home on Jan. 25 while Carroll lost 58-50 on Feb. 3.

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