WEST NORRITON >> Archbishop Woo’s Deja Evans made a mid-court steal and she drove to the hoop, the 6-foot-2 senior flashed a bit of finesse – Eurostepping around a Bishop Shanahan defender for a lay-in early in the third quarter.
“I wasn’t even really thinking,” Evans said. “I was going to pass it to Kara (Meredith but the girl moved.”
Along with showing the smooth aspects of her game, Evans continued providing the Vikings with a dominant effort down low on both ends of the court in Saturday afternoon’s PIAA-5A quarterfinal against
The Albany commit scored a game-high 18 points, helping Archbishop Wood shake off a slow start and take control after halftime to return to another state semifinal with a 52-39 victory at Norristown Area High School.
“I just knew I had to get to the basket and score because they were sagging off of me,” Evans said. “And we just needed an energy kick.”
Evans was one of three Vikings in double figures as District 12 champ Wood (23-5) moved two wins from a third consecutive PIAA title as they advanced to the state final four for the 11th time in program history.
Ava Renninger, who picked up two fouls in the first quarter, scored 10 of her 13 points in the second while Meredith knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in adding 11 points.
“I feel like it means a lot to this group to be able to get to the semifinals because we were the underdogs at the beginning of the year.” Evans said. “Nobody thought that we were gonna be as good as we are now because we were losing Ryanne (Allen) and Bri (Bowen).
Archbishop Wood, which has never lost in the PIAA semis, faces its fourth straight District 1 opponent in West Chester Rustin – the District 1 champ Golden Knights topping Bethlehem Catholic 47-40 – Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
Winner moves to meet either District 7 champ South Fayette or District 7 runner-up Oakland Catholic in the state Saturday, March 25 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Brown scored 16 points – nine in the second half – to pace Bishop Shanahan, which ends the season at 24-6.
“I was so proud of us cause we were really a tight-knit group, we had a lot of chemistry and it’s going to be hard to leave.” Brown said. “I’m just really proud of us as a team and all our accomplishments.
Shanahan capped the first quarter with five straight points to pull even at nine with Alyssa Brown’s 3-pointer to start the second quarter had the Eagles up 12-9.
A Faith Ambrose runner had Shanahan ahead 16-15 but an Evans basket then Meredith’s trey gave Wood a 20-16 advantage. Evans scored and drew a foul at 1:07 to have the Vikings up 22-17 before an Ambrose two made it a three-point game at halftime.
“We came into the game knowing it was going to be really tough and we just knew we had to stick together, try to hit our shots,” Brown said. “And they were falling sometimes but we just played together and we just did our best.”
Meredith, however, connected on the three to start a 7-2 run at the start of the third, pushing Wood’s lead to 29-21. Baskets from Samantha Blumenthal and Abigail Wolfe cut the Shanahan’s deficit to four but District 1’s third-place finisher could pull no closer.
“I thought we got looks,” Bishop Shanahan coach Jim Powers said. “They played good defense but I thought we were able to generate looks. There were a lot of balls that looked like they were in-and-out on us and if we could’ve hit a couple buckets or hit a couple threes, maybe things are different but we just couldn’t get any kind of a string of buckets and that didn’t help.
“Defensively, we did a pretty good job, they took advantage of it. We got ourselves in trouble there. And also the matchup with No. 11 (Evans) was rough for us – we just don’t have the size.”
An Ava Renninger trey had the Vikings up 38-29 at the end of the third. An Evans bucket then a Renninger 3-point play after Meredith stole an inbounds pass had Wood leading 43-29 with 6:51 remaining.
“I think just our ball movement, we were waiting for the best shot instead of taking the first shot available,” said Meredith of what was better for Wood’s offense after the break. “I think points in transition, too, were huge for us. We started running the court more and that definitely helped.”
The Vikings extended their advantage to as large as 15 after back-to-back baskets from Delaney Finnegan made it 49-34. A Wolfe free throw then consecutive baskets from Brown had Shanahan down 49-39 but the Eagles did not score another point.
In the first quarter, a Meredith 3-pointer sent Wood out to a 7-1 lead but the Vikings added just two more points in the period. Shanahan, meanwhile, did not have a field goal until the last minute but trailing 9-4 Brown converted on drive then Alexa Bojko buried a three to knot things at nine.
Brown’s triple to begin the second quarter gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the afternoon at 12-9. Wood regained the advantage after a Renninger basket made it 13-12. The teams traded one-point leads before two from Evans then a Meredith trey put the Vikings ahead for good.
(12-1) Archbishop Wood 52, (1-3) Bishop Shanahan 39
Bishop Shanahan 9 10 10 10 – 39
Archbishop Wood 9 13 16 14 – 52
Bishop Shanahan: Alyssa Brown 6 2-2 16; Samantha Blumenthal 4 1-2 9; Faith Ambrose 2 1-2 5; Alexa Bojko 2 0-0 5; Abigail Wolfe 1 2-4 4; Totals 15 6-10 39.
Archbishop Wood: Deja Evans 8 2-3 18; Ava Renninger 4 4-5 13; Kara Meredith 4 0-0 11; Delaney Finnegan 3 0-5 6; Emily Knouse 2 0-0 4; Totals 21 6-13 52.
3-pointers: BS-Brown 2, Bojko; AW-Meredith 3, Renninger.