The 2021 PIAA girls basketball championships hit the finish line with the last two games of the season on Saturday in Hershey’s Giant Center. Keep it here for news, notables, facts, stats, game roundups, quotes and observations.
PIAA CLASS 4A CHAMPIONSHIP: District 12 champ Archbishop Wood Vikings (16-2) vs. District 10 champ Villa Maria Victors (20-0), 12 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Archbishop Wood topped District 1 champ Gwynedd Mercy 60-38 in the quarterfinals before stopping District 2 champ Scranton Prep 56-39 in the semifinals. … Villa Maria eked out a 29-28 triumph over District 7 champ Beaver Area in the quarterfinals before beating District 3 champ Delone Catholic 47-39 in the semifinals. Delone Catholic KO’d Lancaster Catholic in the D3 finale.
NOTES: Familiar territory for both of these storied programs, which have made multiple pilgrimages to state title games. … Coach Mike McDonald and Archbishop Wood will be making their ninth PIAA finals appearance since 2010, and the Vikings have won five crowns over that clip: 2010 (3A over Indiana), 2011 (3A over Mercyhurst Prep), 2012 (3A over Lancaster Catholic), 2016 (3A over Villa Maria) and 2017 (5A over Trinity-D7). … Archbishop Wood, the reigning Philadelphia Catholic League champ, also had runner-up finishes in 2014 (3A vs. Blackhawk), 2015 (3A vs. Blackhawk) and 2018 (5A vs. Mars). And yes, this will be a rematch of the 2016 finale, when Archbishop Wood dropped Villa Maria 46-29 in the Giant Center. … Coach Doug Chuzie and Villa Maria have been a juggernaut out of Erie; the Victors have put together 40 consecutive winning seasons, and they’ve won 20 or more games the last 21 years in a row. The date vs. Archbishop Wood will be Villa Maria’s 11th state finals run since 2002, and the Victors have won three titles in the last 11 years: 2009 (2A over York Catholic), 2010 (2A over York Catholic) and 2011 (2A over Dunmore). … Plenty of talent to go around in this matchup; keep an eye on Archbishop Wood’s Kaitlyn Orihel (Villanova recruit) and Noelle Baxter (Kutztown recruit); Orihel was the Class 5A Player of the Year last season, and there’s a good shot she’ll get a repeat in that category this season. … Meanwhile, defensive-minded Villa Maria is paced by double-digit scorers Rachel Majewski and Carissa Dunham.
* Archbishop Wood 44, Villa Maria 34 *
VIKING POWER: Villanova recruit Kaitlyn Orihel poured in 25 points, including 10 game-changing points in the third quarter, and blue-chip junior Ryanne Allen added 17 points for Wood, which survived Villa Maria's slow-down tactics for their sixth PIAA championship.
SLOW MOTION: Villa Maria's game plan was to slow the game down and limit Wood's possessions; the Vikings love to fun-and-gun and beat you in transition and with a quick-pass, quick-strike, pull-the-trigger offense in the half court. Villa Maria took big chunks off the clock in the first half, and it was a 9-9 game after the first quarter. Wood led 18-16 at the half, but the Victors tied it at 18-18 on Ainsley Thunnell's layup with 5:47 to go in the third. That's when Orihel took over; the reigning Class 5A Player of the Year from 2019-20, she scored all 10 of Wood's third-quarter points, including back-to-back conventional three-point plays. Orihel's and-1 with 51 seconds to go in the third gave Wood a 28-21 lead — and some breathing room.
SLAMMING THE DOOR: Orihel scored 10 more points in the fourth quarter; her steal and run-out layup gave the Vikings a 36-27 cushion, and Allen's press-break layup and backdoor layup iced it for Wood. Orihel went 6-for-6 at the line down the stretch to slam the door, as the Vikings were finally able to pry Villa Maria out of its patient half-court game. Ava Waid scored 11 points for the Victors, who shot 12-for-25 from the floor, but couldn't catch the Vikings after Wood got up by multiple possessions. The Vikings shot 16-for-33 and out-rebounded Villa Maria 19-13. Wood also forced 15 turnovers, and only coughed the ball up six times, which was big, considering Villa Maria did such a great job limited possessions, especially in the first half.
QUOTABLE: "Our kids have been playing great, and they battled hard to get this win, and I'm so proud of them," Wood coach Mike McDonald said. "For the kids to have this moment — and just to even get here — it's amazing, and I couldn't be happier. This one's special."
QUOTABLE: "This means everything," Orihel said. "To be able to fight through this whole year, and to win the state championship is the best feeling. Walking in our gym and seeing all of those banners and knowing all the great players who were here before us, and now when we come back, we'll see the 2020-21 banner."
PIAA CLASS 5A CHAMPIONSHIP: District 12 champ Cardinal O’Hara Lions (14-4) vs. District 7 champ Chartiers Valley Colts (25-3), 5 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: O’Hara beat District 11 champ Bethlehem Catholic 64-55 in the quarterfinal before stopping Springfield-Delco 40-28 in the semifinals. … Chartiers Valley took care of District 10 champ Warren 61-38 in the quarterfinals before sinking District 3 champ Spring Grove 50-33 in the semifinals.
NOTES: O’Hara is back for its second PIAA finale; the Lions fell to Cumberland Valley in the 2016 4A title game, in the midst of CV’s three straight crowns. The Lions’ ace is Sydni Scott, an all-state performer last winter for skipper Chrissie Doogan, a former O’Hara standout. … Chartiers Valley is on quite the run; the Colts barreled to the 2019 PIAA-5A crown with a 30-0 record, and they were still undefeated last March when the season was halted because of coronavirus concerns. Chartiers Valley snapped Lancaster Catholic’s PIAA girls winning streak record earlier this season, but the Colts do have three defeats since. Still, coach Tim McConnell and his club are coming back to Hershey, looking for another gold trophy. Aislin Malcolm (18.1 points; Pitt recruit) and Perri Page (16.2; Columbia recruit) are two of Chartiers Valley’s five junior starters.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: West Catholic — which won the PIAA Class 3A title with a win over Mohawk on Thursday — Archbishop Wood and Cardinal O’Hara all play in the Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division. That’s three teams from the same division playing for state championships. And that’s mega impressive.
* Cardinal O'Hara 51, Chartiers Valley 27 *
LIONS ROAR: Cardinal O'Hara captured its first state championship, compliments of a runaway 51-27 victory over 2019 5A champ Chartiers Valley, and the Lions capped a perfect title-run by the Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division: O'Hara, West Catholic (3A) and Archbishop Wood (4A) all won state championships here this week. Sydni Scott scored 16 points, Maggie Doogan had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Siobhan Boylan chipped in with 10 points for O'Hara, which silenced the Colts. Chartiers Valley shot just 8-for-42 from the floor and 2-for-16 from 3-point range — which is normally the Colts' bread and butter.
LEAVING NO DOUBT: O'Hara bolted to a 10-0 lead; Scott capped that opening blitz with a 3-pointer, and the Lions had a 17-7 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Doogan, daughter of O'Hara skipper Chrissie Doogan, ripped a pair of 3's, the latter giving the Lions a safe and sound 23-7 cushion with 5:34 to go in the first half. O'Hara led 28-11 at the break, holding Chartiers Valley to 4-for-24 shooting in the first 16 minutes. Boylan hit a third-quarter trey to stretch the Lions' lead to 35-16, and Scott, an all-state performer last season, drilled her fourth and final 3 of the game in the fourth quarter to help O'Hara ice it. Not much went right for Chartiers Valley, which earlier season set the PIAA girls record with its 64th win in a row. The Colts struggled from the floor and turned the ball over 11 times. Perri Page popped in 10 points for Chartiers Valley, which out-rebounded O'Hara 32-29.
QUOTABLE: "They were determined," O'Hara coach Chrissie Doogan said about her squad. "We have some great senior leadership, and there was no way they wanted to go home with a loss. Our kids are gym rats, and they've put so much time and energy into our program, so I'm so happy they got to experience this excitement."