It’s not overly surprising to see a pair of Archbishop Wood teams in the final of the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Girls Basketball Team of the Decade bracket.
The surprise factor is which two Vikings squads now face off in the final round of theoretical competition. Top seed Wood of 2015-16 has held chalk all the way through the bracket while the No. 11 seeded Vikings of 2016-17 have continued to knock off high seed after high seed.
Semifinal voting closed with the two Wood teams knocking off a pair of excellent SOL teams to set up the all-Vikings final.
Scores reflect the final margin of voting on Twitter polls at @ReporterSports.
No. 1 Archbishop Wood (2015-16) 57, No. 5 Souderton (2017-18) 43 >> The top seed showed no signs of slowing down, taking an early lead in the poll and staying ahead throughout the week.
Wood compiled a 25-6 record in 2015-16 that included a 21-game winning streak to end the season. During that run, the Vikings beat defending Delaware state champion Ursuline Academy for the 10th win, then snapped Neumann-Goretti’s 53-game PCL winning streak at the Palestra in the Catholic League final before winning the state title.
Powered by Class 3A state player of the year Bailey Greenberg’s 14.1 ppg, the Vikings won all but two games by 10 points or more during their streak. Forwards Kate Connolly and Katie May joined Greenberg in a big frontcourt while guards Cassie Sebold and Claire Bassetti added shooting and pressuring defense.
The state title was the program’s first since the 2011-12 season while the PCL title was Wood’s first since 2010-11.
Souderton went to the state semifinals the year before and brought back the entire cast in 2017-18. Led by senior co-captains Kate Connolly, Alana Cardona, Tori Dowd and Sami Falencki, the Indians fit together like a puzzle on both ends of the floor and put together a 29-3 record.
Connolly, who had transferred from Wood after the 2015-16 season, was named first team all-state for her all-around play on both ends of the floor. Blending pressure defense and a lot of blocked shots on defense, the Indians fueled a transition game that got a ton of quality shots and highlighted by unselfish passing.
Included in Souderton’s outstanding season was an SOL Continental title, SOL tournament title and a District 1 6A title in a triple-overtime classic against CB South. The Indians’ juniors, who played a key role in 2017-18, would lead the team back to states the next season.
No. 11 Archbishop Wood (2016-17) 54, No. 2 CB West 46 >> A close poll for most of the voting period, the Vikings pulled ahead Friday and maintained their lead to the close.
A vastly different team from the year before, Wood entered the season with a lot of questions coming from outside the program. Inside, it was all fuel for a team that needed to replace three starters and leaned on a bench of many players taking on increased roles.
Embracing the ugly at times, Wood used a scrappy and feisty defense to counter and offense that sometimes struggled to score early in the season. Cassie Sebold and Katie May returned to the starting five, joined by seniors Shannon May and Meg Neher and junior Bridget Arcidiacono and surprised a lot of people by going undefeated in the PCL’s regular season.
A solid bench that included Karly Brown and Erin Morgan provided depth as Wood put together a 24-7 overall record. The Vikings fell in the PCL title game but their defense recovered and allowed just 31 ppg over the five state playoff games to win the first PIAA Class 5A title.
Defined by a relentless mentality and drive group of seniors, the Bucks put together a dominant campaign in 2014-15 that included a 32-2 record, SOL title, District 1 4A title and a state title game appearance. The team’s three Division I recruits in the starting five played with no hesitation to dive on the floor for a loose ball, fight for rebounds and anything else needed to win.
Led by the four senior starters in first team all-state pick Nicole Munger (Michigan), third team all-state Mackenzie Carroll (Colgate), Corrinne Godshall (Binghamton) and Payton Traina, the Bucks not only put together an outstanding season, but left an influence that teams in following years strived to follow.
West’s only regular season loss came to out-of-state competition and most of their wins weren’t close as the Bucks averaged 62 points on offense while giving up 40 defensively. Junior Makenzie Mason and sophomore Maggie Rakowsky split the fifth starting spot for a team that never stopped coming once the first whistle blew.
Voting for the final round will be held on Twitter at @ReporterSports.