A look back at the 2014-15 Ches-Mont season

Despite having just one team reach the PIAA playoffs this season, the 2014-15 campaign was a strong year for the Ches-Mont League in girls basketball.

The Ches-Mont had plenty of great games in league play with new rivalries forming along with some arguably contested among the best in District 1.

With no dominant team, the league consisted of a wide-open field thoughout the season, which made for an exciting Final Four come February.

Two teams emerged from good to elite once the season conluded (Downingtown East and Bishop Shanahan) while one with high expectations ended in disappointment (West Chester Rustin).

Some Ches-Mont teams showed vast improvement throughout the season and could take the next step in the coming years (Coatesville, Unionville, West Chester Henderson) while others were decimated by injury (Great Valley, Kennett).

The 2014-15 season provided a factor the Ches-Mont has not seen the last few seasons: parity. That may not be the case next winter as East and Shanahan look to be step above the pack with three or more starters returning on both teams, but the past three months provided area girls basketball fans with great games and thrilling moments that may not be rivaled over time.

Here’s a look back at the 2014-15 Ches-Mont girls hoops season:

Best game: Downingtown East vs. Bishop Shanahan III (February 10)

Despite East falling to Shanahan twice in the regular season, the stakes couldn’t have been higher for the Ches-Mont National Division rivals in their third and final meeting with the Ches-Mont League championship on the line.

The game lived up to the hype.

With a capacity crowd at West Chester East High School, the game was a defensive battle, remaining tied after halftime and the third quarter.

Devon Adams shined for the Eagles with a game-high 14 points, including eight in the second half. But the shot of the game came off the hands of Kelly Basile, who received a pass from a double-teamed Grace Phillips under the basket. Basile hit the running layup to give Shanahan a 27-25 lead with 30.1 seconds left.

East had one final chance to win it after Shanahan couldn’t ice the game with free throws, but a 33-foot shot by Kaelyn Johns hit the front of the rim as time expired, giving the Eagles their first Ches-Mont championship in school history.

Under consideration: Downingtown East vs. West Chester Rustin (February 18), Downingtown East vs. Bishop Shanahan II (January 15), West Chester Rustin vs. Mount St. Joseph’s (December 13), Bishop Shanahan vs. Coatesville (January 22); Downingtown East vs. Bishop Shanahan I (December 11).


Biggest upset: Downingtown East over West Chester I (February 7)

The Golden Knights entered the Ches-Mont Final Four semifinal virtually unbeatable in league play over the last few seasons.

In came Downingtown East.

Of head coach Bob Schnure’s 791 career wins, this one arguably could rank up there as one of the best.

East was without Aryah Aungst and three bench players due to injury and Tori Barretta was only making her fourth career start after spending the entire season on junior varsity.

It didn’t matter to Paige Warfel and Kaelyn Johns as both were dominant from the second quarter on. Warfel scored a game-high 20 points while Johns made incredible passes through the Rustin defense all night, leading to easy passes in the paint.

The Cougars outscored the Golden Knights 43-24 after the first quarter en route to a 57-40 win. East snapped Rustin’s 40-game Ches-Mont win streak dating to 2012 along with a 13-game overall win streak.

“We wanted to come back and get after them after last year,’ Johns said after the game. “We wanted to prove to them that we were one of the best teams in the Ches-Mont. I think we did.’

Under consideration: Downingtown East over Mount St. Joseph’s (February 23), Kennett over Great Valley (January 22), Downingtown East over West Chester Rustin II (February 18).


Play of the year: Grace Phillips pass to Kelly Basile (Bishop Shanahan vs. Downingtown East III, Ches-Mont Championship Game, February 10)

In a thrilling Ches-Mont championship game for the two Ches-Mont National Division rivals for the first 31 minutes, it was only fitting the final one did not disappoint.

Shanahan had the ball in a 25-25 game with under 45 seconds to play. Phillips received the ball at the top of the key and dribbled to her right. With East’s Laura Ochsner guarding heavily, Phillips was forced into the corner at the top of the right perimeter.

Double teamed, Phillips had the choice to kick the ball out to Ciara Forde at half court, Instead, she flung a pass cross court to Basile, who was wide open heading toward the net. Basile caught the pass and hit a running layup with 30.1 seconds left to give Shanahan a 27-25 lead.

The play turned out to be the game-winner as Shanahan clinched its first Ches-Mont championship in school history and first overall league title since 1971.

“I was going to call timeout in the corner,’ Phillips said describing the play. “Once I saw Kelly (Basile) was cutting, I kind of knew where she was going. I’ve done that with Ciara (Forde) so many times and just passed it to her. It was such a rush once she made the shot. I knew we had a good chance of winning then.’

Under consideration: Maddie Dew 1,000th point (December 30), Holly Hager crossover vs. Great Valley (January 3), Paige Warfel third quarter buzzer-beater vs. Downingtown West (December 16), Noelle Powell steal vs. Mount St. Joe’s (December 13), Paige Warfel drive vs. West Chester Rustin (February 7).


Moment of the year: Warfel scores 1,000, Powell gets 1,500 in same game (Downingtown East vs. West Chester Rustin II, February 18)

East and Rustin headed into the second round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs with plenty on the line, one being a state playoff berth.

For Warfel and Powell, both had a chance to accomplish personal milestones in the process.

Powell came into the game with 1,491 career points, nine away from 1,500 for her career. She hit the 1,500 point mark on a fast-break layup in the second quarter, becoming the first player in school history to accomplish the feat.

Warfel’s quest to 1,000 was a bit harder coming into the game as she entered with 981 career points, 19 away from the milestone.

The Ches-Mont’s leading scorer didn’t disappoint as she took over the game in the second half with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, rallying Cougars past the Golden Knights for their second win over the team in 11 days.

Warfel gave Downingtown East the lead for good on two free throws with 4:38 to play, but also hit the 1,000-point mark after converting the second attempt.

After the game, Warfel and Powell posed with flowers and banners, commemorating their accomplishments. The Ches-Mont League may not have two players reach certain point milestones in the same game for a long time, which truly was a sight to see for anyone at West Chester Rustin that night.


Most improved team: Unionville

The Indians came into the season with a new head coach along with losing leading scorer Taylor Thames via transfer. Unionville had five seniors on the roster, which gave them plenty of experience for the second playoff spot in a wide-open Ches-Mont American Division.

Under Fred Ellzy, the Indians responded.

Unionville put a stamp on their season with an upset win over Bishop Shanahan on January 23, handing the Eagles their second loss of the season.

The Indians finished 16-6, make the Ches-Mont Final Four and qualified for the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Micayla Flores finished in the top ten of the Ches-Mont in scoring while Maddie Shanahan emerged into one of the top players in the league.

The six-win improvement put Unionville in the upper echelon of the Ches-Mont and with a talented junior varsity class, the Indians could be there to stay.

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