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Delco Madness: Lines set, matchups analyzed for Sweet 16 girls games

Archbishop Carroll's Kerri Shields, right, backs in on Cardinal O'Hara's Danielle Callahan during a Catholic League semifinal game Tuesday night. Shields and the Patriots won, 50-42. (DFM file)

Breaking down the matchups and setting the mythical lines for the first-round games of the Delco Madness Sweet 16:

• No. 1 Arch. Carroll (1979) vs. No. 16 Garnet Valley (2019)

Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw coached the Patriots to the Catholic League championship before finishing a 28-0 season by winning the Georgetown Big Brothers Tournament. Featuring powerful Catholic school teams from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the event was considered by some as a virtual national championship event.

McGraw has embraced the idea of being an underdog in the tournament, and her Patriots will face an early test. With All-Delco Player of the Year Emily McAteer, the Jags were 30-2, falling in the final of the PIAA Class 6A tournament and are a very dangerous 16-seed.

Line: Carroll by 6.5

• No. 2 Card. O’Hara (1993) vs. No. 15 1992 Academy of Notre Dame

Deep in talent as the 29-6 Irish were, including George Mason recruit Aimee Willard, they receive a challenging first-round draw.

Not only has O’Hara been a dominant Delco program for generations, but coach Jack Keffer’s ’93 team is the highest-ranked Lions entry in the tournament. Behind La Salle-bound Chrissie Donahue, Anne Gallagher and Marnie McBreen, O’Hara will bring a 28-0 record and high expectations into the tournament.

Line: O’Hara by 16.5.

Kristen Clement, left, gets a high-five from Brandi Batch during a Cardinal O’Hara game in 1997. (DFM File)

• No. 3 Darby-Colwyn (1976) vs. No. 14 Arch. Prendergast (1985)

All eyes will be on the game that could answer the question of whether teams from outside the Catholic League can mount a serious Delco Madness run.

Though Lou Alleva’s Pandas passed every rugged Catholic League test, D-C was 25-0 and the PIAA Class B champion before running a winning streak to 50 the following season.

The oddsmakers, however, are hinting at a big 3-vs.-14 upset.

Line: D-C by 1.

• No. 4 Carroll (2009) vs. No. 13 Chester (1981)

The 30-1 Patriots, behind Erin Shields and Kerri Shields and nine college players-to-be, ran the table, winning the Catholic League, District 12 and PIAA Class AAA championships. Only a December loss to O’Hara prevented perfection.

The District 1 Class AAA champion Clippers are said to be ready to prove they were under-seeded, and behind Fredia Gibbs and Teresa Govens they have the skill to hang.

Line: Carroll by 6

• No. 5 Nether Providence (1983) vs. No. 12 O’Hara (2016)

Almost immediately after the brackets were revealed, know-it-alls declared the Bulldogs under-valued. Some experts insist that Barb Yost and Lisa Cano can push N-P deep into the tournament with a legendary intense defense.

In the opener, though, N-P will face an equally motivated program, as the Lions are reported to be disturbed to receive only four Sweet 16 bids. Behind 2016 All-Delco Player of the Year Hannah Nihill, the Lions were 26-4 and reached the final of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament.

Line: N-P by 4.

Chester’s Fredia Gibbs goes up for a basket in a game in 1981. (DFM File)

• No. 6 O’Hara (1969) vs. No. 11 Carroll (2019)

This match will help reveal whether a team from a distant era can hold up in the modern game.

The Lions were led by Theresa Shank, one of the best players in the history of the women’s game who would lead the legendary Mighty Macs of Immaculata to three consecutive AIAW national championships. Wise guys are touting her as the favorite for tournament MVP.

Behind Erin Sweeney, the Patriots won the Catholic League championship and finished second in the Class 5A state tournament.

Line: O’Hara by 2.

• No. 7 Carroll (2012) vs. No. 10 Collingdale (1979)

With All-Delcos Meghan Creighton, Rachel Pearson and Sarah Curran, the 2012 Patriots proved tournament-ready by winning a PIAA Class AAAA championship.

All-Delcos Debbie Ballario and Virginia-bound Jill McKone should keep the 20-6 Colls around long enough to make the Patriots sweat.

Line: Carroll by 5.

• No. 8 Penncrest (1978) vs. No. 9 O’Hara (1997)

The only O’Hara team with All-American Kristen Clement to receive a bid appears to have come in vastly under-seeded. It will have a quick chance to prove why when it faces a powerful 27-3 Penncrest team that lost in the second round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament.

O’Hara rides a string of three consecutive Catholic League championships into the tournament, and was 54-2 over two seasons.

The matchup of big players Brandi Batch, who played at West Virginia, and Carol Boyer, who would go to Saint Joseph’s, will be telling. But can anyone stop Clement, who scored a Delco-record 2,256 in her legendary career?

Line: O’Hara by 11.5

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