PHILADELPHIA >> Back in August, West Chester Rustin girls basketball star Laine McGurk was on the Temple University campus outside the Liacouras Center and texted a picture to coach Lauren Stackhouse with the message, “We’ll be here in March.”
Well, she was right on the money. Not only were they here, but they won the whole thing.
McGurk’s 17 points led the way as West Chester Rustin captured its first PIAA District 1 5A girls basketball championship with a 54-43 victory over Villa Maria on Saturday afternoon.
“This group is special, this group of seniors specifically,” said Rustin coach Lauren Stackhouse. “We came in together four years ago. These girls came in prepared because this is what they’ve been working so hard for and credit to every single person who helped us get here.”
The Golden Knights, the top seed in District 1 5A, led from start to finish and started out in fine form, building an 18-10 lead after the first quarter.
Back-to-back threes from Riley Stackhouse and McGurk staked them to an early 8-4 lead.
The quarter concluded with McGurk banking in a three-pointer to make it an eight-point lead after one quarter. She scored 11 points in the stanza.
“We didn’t have it today,” said Villa Maria coach Kathy McCartney. “We weren’t our usual selves. I really don’t know why, if I did, I would’ve fixed it.”
Carly Catania scored the first basket of the second period for Villa, but Rustin followed with a 6-0 run for the Golden Knights’ first double-digit lead of the game at 24-12 midway through the second. The Hurricanes traded baskets, but couldn’t build a run and trailed, 31-20, at the half.
“We set a goal of everything we wanted to accomplish at the beginning of the season and so far, we’ve checked all those boxes and winning this game was one of them. So. we checked another box,” said Rustin senior guard Ava Panetta.
Villa Maria had opportunities to close the gap after inducing eight second-half turnovers by Rustin, but they couldn’t make the baskets when needed.
“We shot like blind women today,” said McCartney.
Villa was kept at arms length in the third quarter. They couldn’t cut the lead to under 10 points and Rustin took a 44-31 lead into the fourth.
While McGurk was held to three points in the fourth period, Lola Flynn helped put the game away. Her ballhandling was instrumental in breaking the press, while her dribble-drives led to six points as the Golden Knights were never really threatened.
“She did, and I think my kids got frustrated,” said McCartney. “We got frustrated and started making stupid defensive mistakes that led to easy baskets.”
“They were great baskets at the right time,” said Stackhouse. “Any momentum they had, Lola definitely diminished that with her speed and that’s what she does best.”
Panetta dribbled out the final 30 seconds and the celebrations started as they etched themselves into the school’s history books.
“It’s a huge accomplishment, I’m so proud of us,” said Panetta. “I’ve been playing basketball sine I was little with pretty much all these girls. So, I’m super excited for us and the journey’s not done.”
Now that the districts are over, the page turns to the PIAA state playoffs.
Rustin begins its PIAA journey at home next Saturday against Susquehannock, the seventh-place team from District 3. Villa Maria will entertain the third-place team from District 2, Scranton, at Great Valley.
“We’re really excited about that (playing at home),” said Stackhouse. “I don’t want this season to ever end. I love these kids. These are like my children and I just want to keep going with this group.”
WC Rustin 54, Villa Maria 43
Villa Maria: Guerzon 3 1-1 5; Irvine 1 0-0 2; Iacone 1 0-0 3; Cronley 1 0-0 2; McHugh 4 2-2 13; Sharp 0 0-0 0; Catania 2 1-2 5; Nash 2 0-0 5; Broadhurst 0 3-6 3; Tray 0 0-0 0; Dean 0 0-0 0; Ferry 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 7-11 43.
WC Rustin: Panetta 2 0-0 4; Flynn 6 1-4 13; E. McGurk 2 5-6 9; L. McGurk 6 2-2 17; Stackhouse 3 4-4 11; Kraft 0 0-2 0; Loper 0 0-0 0; Boczkowski 0 0-0 0; Betchyk 0 0-0 0; Barry 0 0-0 0; Evangelista 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 12-18 54.
Villa Maria 10 10 11 12 — 43
WC Rustin 18 13 13 10 — 54
3-point goals: Guerzon, Iacone, McHugh, Nash, L. McGurk 3, Stakhouse.
Boys Basketball/ 3 weeks ago
PIAA basketball tournament brackets
The PIAA has released its brackets for the upcoming basketball championships. Tournaments begin Friday,...
WINTER SPORTS/ 23 hours ago
Four-goal second period lifts West Chester East to third consecutive Pennsylvania Cup title
For the West Chester East ice hockey team, its dominating late season run packed...
SPRING SPORTS/ 23 hours ago
Mercury Roundup (March 25): Owen J. Roberts girls lacrosse downs Conestoga in battle of unbeatens
GIRLS LACROSSE Owen J. Roberts 9, Conestoga 4 Highlights: In a battle of undefeated...
Girls Basketball/ 24 hours ago
Triple threat: Archbishop Wood downs South Fayette in PIAA-5A final for third straight state title
HERSHEY >> Waiting to receive their state champion medals, Ava Renninger and Deja Evans...
SPRING SPORTS/ 1 day ago
DLN girls track previews: Rustin looks to be in fast lane again
The West Chester Rustin girls finished first in the team standings at the PIAA...
Girls Basketball/ 1 day ago
Casey’s Place: Lansdale Catholic makes history with PIAA-4A title win over Blackhawk
HERSHEY >> Gabby Casey hopped up and down on the Giant Center logo, her...
SPRING SPORTS/ 1 day ago
DLN local roundup: Bishop Shanahan boys lacrosse team rolls to victory
The Bishop Shanahan High School boys’ lacrosse team defeated Bellefonte, 15-2, Saturday. The Eagles...
The Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Local Roundup (March 24): Lansdale Catholic too much for Springfield-Montco
Boys lacrosse Lansdale Catholic 13, Springfield 5: Gavin Selchert scored three goals and dished...
Boys Lacrosse/ 2 days ago
North Penn holds off West Chester Henderson for 3rd straight win
TOWAMENCIN >> A four-goal lead for the North Penn boys lacrosse team had been...
Mercury roundup (March 24): Upper Perkiomen girls lacrosse rolls past Northampton
GIRLS LACROSSE Upper Perkiomen 17, Northampton 9 Highlights: Upper Perkiomen ran out to a...
Boys Lacrosse/ 2 days ago
Second half surge lifts Kennett past Ridley
KENNETT SQUARE >> It’s always dangerous to place too much importance on early-season, non-conference...
WINTER SPORTS/ 2 days ago
Brendlinger calls it a career as Pottsgrove girls basketball coach
Mike Brendlinger has retired after 21 years as head coach of the Pottsgrove High...
2023 Mercury Boys Tennis Previews
Boyertown Coach: Donna Laskosky Last year’s record: 5-6 PAC Players to watch: Brayden Burkhardt,...