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Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery team of decade bracket bubble shows depth, quality of local girls basketball

A staple of late-season college basketball is the nightly discussion of the bubble and the teams on either side of it.

The great thing about last decade of girls basketball in the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media area was the fact that no shortage of candidates for the team of the decade bracket existed. On the flip side, it made the process of picking the field extremely difficult and resulted in some worthy teams being left on the bubble.

As voting is set to begin on first round matchups, it is worth taking a few moments to highlight some of these other worthy teams.

North Penn (2015-16) >> Just two years removed from the program’s first district championship, North Penn showed it was ready to challenge for another.

Spurred by senior forward Mikaela Giuliani and the junior trio of guards Sam Carangi, Irisa Ye and Jess Huber, the Knights went 14-0 in the SOL Continental and earned the top seed in the District 1 4A tournament. In between, they edged CB West in overtime to claim an SOL tournament trophy.

Giuliani, who reached 1,000 career points during the season, gave the Knights an inside presence to compliment proficient outside shooting by Huber and Carangi while Ye’s constant energy was defensive spark.

A halfcourt buzzer-beater by CB South’s Jordan Vitelli – a surefire contender in a “shot of the decade” bracket – forced overtime where the No. 8 seeded Titans would overcome North Penn in the district quarterfinals. North Penn rebounded to finish fifth in the district, giving them what would prove to be a difficult path through the state bracket.

After routing Central in the first round, the Knights used a late bucket by Giuliani to edge District 1 champion Perk Valley in the second round. Sophomore Bri Hewlett was clutch the next round as NP rallied from 12 down to beat Neshaminy and set up a semifinal with Cardinal O’Hara.

North Penn’s first state semifinal appearance brought a game worthy of a championship matchup but a few more clutch plays by the Lions sent the PCL power through to the title game. The Knights finished the season with a 29-4 record, their single-season high in wins for the entire decade.

A majority of the team returned the next season, with the Knights again seizing the top seed in the new Class 6A District 1 bracket. Eventual district champion Abington would derail their district run while another meeting with Cardinal O’Hara in the state quarterfinals marked the final chapter for a stellar senior class.

Giuliani, Ye and Huber would all go on to play at USciences while Carangi signed with Villanova, continuing her family’s lineage with the university’s womens’ basketball program.

Archbishop Wood (2014-15): Like every season, the Vikings entered 2014-15 with championship aspirations.

While they put together another outstanding year, going 26-6, their postseason would play out all too similar to the year before. Like 2013-14, the Vikings were denied a PCL title at the Palestra by Neumann-Goretti while Blackhawk out of the WPIAL edged Wood for a second straight year in the PIAA 3A title game.

Senior Aubree Brown showed plenty of the all-around game she would put to great effect in a career at Drexel. The cast around her like juniors Bailey Greenberg and Claire Bassetti, sophomores Shannon May and Cassie Sebold and freshmen Katie May and Kate Connolly would use the losses as fuel in a 2015-15 PCL and state championship year.

Plymouth Whitemarsh (2016-17) >> The Colonials had been making steady progress as a program before a breakout year in 2016-17.

A 22-0 regular season set the table for a postseason run that saw PW reach the District 1 6A title game and advance to the PIAA quarterfinals, just the second team in program history to do so. Seniors Lauren Coscia and Laurel Suchsland provided invaluable leadership and filled in the gaps around an efficient junior trio in Taylor O’Brien, Ali Diamond and Lauren Fortescue.

O’Brien, who would graduate as the first 2,000 point scorer in school (boys or girls) history and be named state player of the year the next season, seized the leading role. The addition of Fortescue as a transfer added another shooter alongside Diamond and the team would capture an SOL American title.

PW went 28-3 in the 2016-17 season and with O’Brien (Bucknell), Diamond (Georgetown lacrosse) and Fortescue (Salisbury) back in the fold, defended their SOL American title and returned to states the following season.

Archbishop Carroll (2018-19) >> The Patriots returned to the top of the Catholic League thanks to a well-balanced team.

A mix of experienced players like seniors Harlem Jennings and Mary DeSimone meshed well with underclassmen like freshman Grace O’Neill around junior Erin Sweeney to form an efficient offensive squad. Carroll earned the top spot in the PCL and won its first crown since 2012 with an overtime win over longtime league rival Archbishop Wood.

The Patriots’ 26-6 season ended in Hershey, where they were denied a PIAA 5A title by Chartiers Valley out of the WPIAL. Jennings (USciences) and DeSimone (West Chester) both went on to play college basketball.

With Sweeney (Drexel) and O’Neill back, the Patriots had advanced to the state quarterfinals this season and were slated to face Wood prior to the tournament’s postponement.

Germantown Academy (2010-11) >> GA’s program history is full of qualified teams but the 2010-11 squad was able to claim a double of Inter-Ac and PAISAA titles.

The Patriots compiled a 23-5 overall record with a 9-1 mark in the Inter-Ac. Led by seniors Alexa Gallagher (DePaul), Dana Lotito (William & Mary) and Monica Schacker (Jefferson), GA fit in plenty of national competition alongside its Inter-Ac and local opponents and carried a national ranking for part of the season. A high-powered offense scored at least 60 points in 15 games during the season.

A 69-41 victory against Shipley in the PAISAA title game would serve as the program’s last title until the 2018-19 team ended the decade with an Inter-Ac and PAISAA double.

Abington (2009-10) >> Abington opened the decade with a statement, edging an annual powerhouse and next-door rival Cheltenham for the District 1 4A title.

Led by senior Emily Leer, who would go on to Villanova, the Ghosts went 26-5 and advanced to the third round of the state tournament. The district champion was the first of two for Abington in the 2010 decade, supplanted by the 2016-17 title and made the Ghosts one of just two programs (Spring-Ford) to win multiple district championships in the decade.

It was a third straight state playoff appearance for coach Dan Marsh, who would later lead his program to six straight state appearances and another district title later in the decade.

CB South (2017-18) >> A team nominated by a few of its members, this group became the first Titans team to reach District 1 and PIAA title games.

Led by senior Haley Meinel (Jefferson) and junior Alexa Brodie (Colgate) on offense and a cast of dedicated supporting players like seniors Maddie McShane and Mackenzie Ehresman, the Titans compiled a superb 30-5 record. All five losses came to other SOL teams, including Upper Dublin in the state final.

A dramatic win over North Allegheny in the state semifinals remains a defining moment for the Titans program.

South’s season would be defined with its continual matchups with Souderton. The teams met four times, with Souderton denying the Titans SOL tournament and district titles, although their District 1 6A championship game was a three overtime classic that saw no shortage of heroics from both sides.

These were not the only teams given consideration, speaking to the depth and quality of local teams in every classification. While the current 2019-20 season remains suspended, the new decade looked to be off to a strong start as well.

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