The opening round of the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media girls basketball team of the decade bracket nearly came down to the buzzer.
Three of the eight opening round games started Saturday within four percentage points in reader/fan voting on Twitter and a pair of those contests came down to the final few minutes of voting. As it stands, all five Archbishop Wood teams in the field are moving on, while No. 5 Souderton held off No. 12 Abington in the most-voted on game of the round and No. 13 Gwynedd Mercy Academy knocked off No. 4 Germantown Academy by just two percentage points.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the 2016-17 Abington team that thrived as a playoff underdog nearly added another notch to its belt, but the 2017-18 came through in the clutch again.
All final scores reflect the final margin of the reader vote.
No. 5 Souderton (2017-18) 54, No. 12 Abington (2016-17) 46
If this were a real game, it would one of those were the final score didn’t totally reflect how close it was.
With a little more than 90 minutes left in the poll, the teams were tied with half the total votes before a late run by Souderton sent the 2018 District 1 6A champions on to the next round. The game brought in 495 total votes, more than 100 higher than the next most-voted on matchup.
The Ghosts, who had just one senior in forward Lizzie Oleary (Delaware), were the No. 9 seed in the District 1 6A tournament, going on a five-game run that included wins over No. 8 Souderton, No. 1 North Penn, No. 5 CB West and No. 2 Plymouth Whitemarsh to capture their second district title of the decade. They would finish the season with a loss in the second round of the state tournament.
Souderton, which had advanced to the PIAA 6A semifinals in 2017, brought back its entire roster in a campaign that included SOL Continental, SOL tournament and District 1 titles and another run to the state semis. A veteran team; the Indians were led by senior captains Kate Connolly (Drexel), Alana Cardona (IUP), Tori Dowd (Muhlenberg) and Sami Falencki (Arcadia) plus a junior class that would return to states the next year.
Abington’s Twitter account, @LadyGhostsBB, offered a concession with about a half-hour left but their matchup was one that had plenty of people watching as the final surge of votes came in.
Souderton advances to face No. 13 Gwynedd Mercy Academy in the quarterfinals.
No. 13 Gwynedd Mercy Academy (2015-16) 51, No. 4 Germantown Academy (2018-19) 49
The “biggest” upset in terms of seeding, it was also the closest game in terms of margin of victory.
In terms of talent on the teams, this was anything but a typical 4-13 matchup. GA, which had four Division I recruits in its starting five among senior Rachel Balzer (George Mason), juniors Elle Stauffer (Harvard), Jaye Haynes (La Salle) and Maddie Vizza (Northeastern) and likely another in sophomore Becca Booth, went 30-1 while capturing Inter-Ac and PAISAA titles. The PAISAA title win was the program’s first since 2011 while the squad’s only loss came to a Miami Country Day school ranked No. 2 in the country when they faced off.
The Monarchs elevated their play in every aspect, capturing an AACA title, District 1 3A title and advancing to the state quarterfinals before falling to Archbishop Wood (this bracket’s top seed). Seniors Erica DeCandido, who was just named Division III player of the year at Tufts, and Brigit Coleman (USciences) provided a bulk of the offense while seniors Maggie Cameron and Mary Claire Casey and sophomore Carly Heineman played their supporting roles well.
GMA will look to spring another upset when it faces off with No. 5 Souderton in the quarterfinals.
No. 1 Archbishop Wood (2015-16) 63, No. 16 Upper Dublin (2017-18) 47
The bracket’s top seed set the pace for the Vikings’ five entrants and held serve over the Cardinals.
Wood, which ended the 2015-16 season on a 21-game winning streak, captured PCL and PIAA titles behind senior captains Bailey Greenberg (Drexel) and Claire Bassetti. The Vikings used their size inside and aggressive, pressuring guards to create a dominant defense.
UD, which lived as an underdog during the 2018 postsesaon, went from not reaching the District 1 6A quarterfinals to winning a PIAA title. Senior captains Maggie Weglos and Nicole Kaiser led a players-only meeting that turned the tide for an otherwise young core of sophomores and freshmen.
Top-seed Wood will face another Vikings squad in the No. 9 Archbishop Wood team of 2009-10.
No. 9 Archbishop Wood (2009-10) 65, No. 8 Archbishop Carroll (2011-12) 35
The first of Wood’s five state champions last decade knocked off a Patriots team that was dominant in the 2011-12 season.
Wood, which had just one senior in point guard Samantha Greenfield, would on to win the next two PIAA 3A titles but lost to Carroll in the PCL title game. The Vikings would get some revenge on the Patriots in the state tournament before hoisting their first state title a few rounds later.
Carroll, which was led by a terrific core of senior players, capped off an unparalleled four-year run that ended with a PCL and PIAA title double. The Patriots, who had moved up to Class 4A after starting the decade in 3A, knocked off foe Wood in the PCL title game, then rolled through the state bracket.
The first Wood state champion will meet the fourth in the quarterfinals as the No. 9 Vikings try to knock off the top-seeded 2015-16 Vikings squad.
No. 2 CB West (2014-15) 66, No. 15 Jenkintown (2017-18) 34
West held serve on its high seed despite matching up with a historically strong Drakes squad.
The Bucks, led by senior starters Nicole Munger (Michigan), Corrinne Godshall (Binghamton), Mackenzie Carroll (Colgate) and Payton Traina, went 32-2 in a season where they rolled over most opponents, won SOL and District 1 4A titles and reached the state title game. While they fell to Cumberland Valley in the final, their relentless style of play would influence every West to come after them.
Jenkintown finally captured its first PIAA title thanks to a team heavy on continuity that found a way to deal with any challenge in its way. A 31-1 record included wins over every other classification, a BAL tournament title, District 1 A title and finally the state championship after an overtime win against Juniata. Seniors Jen and Ashley Kremp and Amelia Mulvaney teamed with junior twins Mia and Natalie Kolb in a solid starting five.
The Bucks will contend with No. 10 Archbishop Wood of 2011-12 in the quarterfinals.
No. 10 Archbishop Wood (2011-12) 63, No. 7 Mount Saint Joseph (2010-11) 37
Wood’s third straight PIAA champion emerged over a Magic squad that was loaded with future Division I players.
For Vikings seniors Taylor Kaminski, Lauren Nealon and Alex Heck, 2012 brought a third straight state title to end their careers at Wood. Despite falling to PCL rival Carroll at the Palestra, the Vikings rebounded and took a western path that included two games against WPIAL foes to a three-peat in the state final.
Mount would navigate an extremely difficult District 1 4A bracket as the No. 3 seed to emerge as champion before going on a run to the state semifinals. Seniors Steph Smith and Mary Jo Horgan led an extremely deep roster that included numerous Division I players who would keep the Magic a contender for years to come.
Wood faces No. 2 CB West in the quarterfinals.
No. 3 Archbishop Wood (2010-11) 67, No. 14 St. Basil Academy (2016-17) 33
The middle team of the Vikings’ three-peat still holds the best record of any of Wood’s five state champions.
Fresh off the first state title for the program and with all but one player back, the Vikings found a way to up the ante for their repeat by going 28-4. Wood added a PCL title, the program’s first, with a win over nemesis Carroll before going on to a second state title behind seniors Christine Verrelle, Tori Arnao, Steph Keyes and Caitlin McCartney.
The Panthers have been no stranger to success the past decade, and in 2016-17, they won their first 29 games including AACA and District titles that the program has won every year since. Senior Natalie Kucowski (Lafayette) anchored a strong defensive team while her supporting cast would carry on the standard in following seasons.
Wood faces Wood as the No. 3 2010-11 team faces the most recent champion in the No. 11 squad of 2016-17.
No. 11 Archbishop Wood (2016-17) 56, No. 6 North Penn (2013-14) 44
Another game that was separated by just a few percentage points as Saturday dawned, Wood’s fifth state champ would take the win.
Despite losing three starters from the prior year, the Vikings turned to returners Cassie Sebold and Katie May while filling the lineup with players who had come off the bench the year prior. While Wood wasn’t able to defend its PCL title, a tough defensive mindset would carry the Vikings through states as they won the first PIAA 5A title.
North Penn would make history in 2014, winning the program’s first District 1 title. Seniors Erin Maher, Vicky Tumasz and Brianna Cullen got a lift from a talented group of underclassmen as they put together a 26-4 record, SOL Continental title and run to the state quarterfinals. The Knights would remain a strong team as Mikaela Giuliani, Jess Huber, Irisa Ye and Sam Carangi took over for the seniors in following seasons.
Wood will take on another Vikings team in the No. 3 seed 2010-11 squad in the quarterfinals.
Voting for the second round will take place next week. All polls will again be posted on Twitter at @ReporterSports.