Pannepacker provides fitting send-off to Merion Mercy Academy gym

Merion Station – When Maida Pannepacker used to come watch her older sisters Emma and Martha play basketball for Merion Mercy Academy, she was just like any other toddler who had endure Merion Mercy Athletic Director Barbara Clarke pleading with the kids to leave the court and stop shooting as the team would emerge from the locker room to warm up for the second half of their home contests.

On Feb. 19, Pannepacker was once again the target for Clarke but this time she was cheering for the junior forward who would score Merion Mercy’s final six points in their 46-27 win over visiting Nazareth Academy in the second round of the PIAA District One Class AAA tournament. It was the final basketball game for Merion Mercy’s current gym, which dates back to 1954. Next winter, Merion Mercy’s basketball team will play in a brand-new gym.

The Golden Bears’ current gym has seen enough basketball memories to last a lifetime, including three Association of Catholic Academies (AACA) titles, three PIAA District One Class AAA crowns and one PIAA Class AAA state title (1995).

“It was awesome,” said senior Bern McGeever, referring to Pannepacker scoring the team’s final six points in the gym. “I am so happy for her. She has been around Merion for a long time and I couldn’t imagine anyone else scoring the last basket.”

“It’s fitting,” said Merion Mercy basketball head coach Rob Baxter. “Maida comes from the nicest family and I think it’s a great thing for her family and for Merion Mercy.”

“It feels good,” said Pannepacker. “I remember coming her as far back as 2004 and having Ms. Clarke ask me to leave the court at halftime. Anyone on this team could have scored our final basket so I am honored to have been the one. It’s something I will remember.”

With all of the history created in their gym, the senior class – Bern McGeever, Gabby Heinsinger, Liz McMonagle, Domenica Tomasetti and Allie Lee – created their own legacy with the way they progressed over the last four years punctuating their home career with their first ever win over AACA rival Mount St. Joseph’s in the final regular season game before defeating Nazareth in the final game.

“It’s bittersweet,” said McGeever, who finished with eight points, two rebounds, three blocks and three steals against Nazareth Academy. “There is no place like playing games at Merion. It’s a great atmosphere.”

“I have mixed emotions,” Baxter said. “It will be nice to have a new gym but at the same time we have done some good things the past couple of years and it was definitely a special night.”

Merion Mercy Athletic Director Barbara Clarke added, “The win over Mount (St. Joseph) was big, big time. It was extremely emotional, extremely exciting and I will remember that game for a long time.”

While Merion prepares to say farewell to their old home, they have their eyes focused forward on their contest against Villa Maria Academy on Tuesday evening at Harriton in the District One Class AAA semi-finals.



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