Warley, Shanahan advance to C-M final


WEST GOSHEN – All of those early season struggles are now a distant memory for the Bishop Shanahan girls’ basketball team.

Several weeks ago, the Eagles were fighting for their postseason life, not even sure if they would be able to defense their Ches-Mont League crowns from the previous two seasons. But now that the playoffs are here, Shanahan is in and starting to peak. On Monday, the Eagles overwhelmed the Ches-Mont American champs from Oxford, 47-29, and will play for title No. 3 on Wednesday against Coatesville. The Red Raiders won the C-M National regular season title.

“I don’t think our players counted themselves out, but a lot of others did, and rightfully so, because we weren’t playing or coaching very well earlier this season,” said Shanahan head coach Fran Burbridge.

Making a championship run is always easier with a star player leading the way, and forward Courtney Warley certainly qualifies. The 6-foot-2 senior poured in a game-high 27 points, nearly equaling the Hornets’ team total.

“Warley is a nice blend of size and touch, which is something that a lot of high school kids can’t do,” said Oxford head coach Brian Urig.

“Not that Courtney wasn’t good before, but she is really, really good now,” added Burbridge. “Her confidence is starting to get high. She was good tonight, and she’s marked. Everybody is double-teaming her.”

Already signed to play at Division I Manhattan, Warley scored a dozen points in the third quarter alone, which set the stage for a comfortable victory. Shanahan – who finished in second place in the C-M National — improves to 15-8 overall.

“Because of our record in the first half of the season, we were in danger of not making the playoffs,” Warley said. “But somehow we made it.

“We thought maybe (the postseason) was taken away, so now that we are here, we want to take advantage of it.”

According to Burbridge, the Eagles employed an up-tempo offense early in the season that just didn’t work. Warley wasn’t getting enough touches, and transition defense was a big problem.

“After about seven or eight games, we kind of shut it all down, regrouped and started anew,” he reported.

“It wasn’t the kids’ fault, it was mine. So we dug ourselves a hole, and our approach was to put our heads down, work hard and then see where we were are at. We got to the end and somehow we were in control of our own destiny.”

Shanahan blasted Downingtown East in the regular season finale to advance, and then outscored the Hornets 28-13 in the second half on Monday. Oxford went 11-1 in the regular season to capture the program’s first American Division championship in a decade.

“We lost to a very good basketball team,” Urig said. “Shanahan has played well, especially down the stretch. They do a good job.”

Shanahan’s full-court pressure bothered Oxford particularly in the early going, forcing eight first quarter turnovers. And thanks to a 9-of-10 from free throw line, the Eagles led 19-16 at the half.

Warley then took over in the third period. Thanks to an Oxford technical foul, Warley had a four-point possession and it kick-started a 10-3 run to end the quarter. Shanahan then pulled away with some stifling defense and a bunch of free throws. For the day, the Eagles downed 20 of 23 from the line, with Warley leading the way.

“We knew (Oxford) didn’t have a lot of bigs, so we were looking to play a lot of inside-out,” said Warley, who was 11 of 12 from the stripe.

“We thought it we were patient and pounded the ball (inside), we had some mismatches,” Burbridge added. “But that takes some sacrifice from a lot of our other kids.

“None of this stuff happens if we have a team that is selfish. Players like Kelly Basile and Abby Bailey have sacrificed a lot for the better of the team.”

In all, the Hornets turned it over 19 times. Leading scorer, Miranda Porretta, took an accidental elbow to the forehead at the end of the half, and scored just one point the rest of the way. Grace Hennessey registered 10 of her team-high 12 points in the second half for Oxford.

Bishop Shanahan 47, Oxford 29

OXFORD – Williams 0 2-4 2; D’Aquanno 3 0-0 6; Hennessey 5 2-7 12; Porretta 2 3-4 7; Herrin 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 7-15 29.

BISHOP SHANAHAN – Cox 1 0-0 2; McCarter 1 3-4 5; Sendi 0 2-3 2; Basile 1 0-0 3; Greenhut 2 4-4 8; Warley 8 11-12 27. Totals 13 20-23 47.

Oxford                       10 6 8 5 – 29

Shanahan 13 6 14 14 – 47

Three-pointers: Basile.

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