The difference between the Archbishop Carroll’s girls’ basketball team that contended for a PIAA Class 5A championship for the last three years and this year’s team is like night and day. But a new tradition has to start somewhere, and perhaps it was at Methacton on Saturday afternoon.
The Patriots got 17 points from sophomore guard Grace O’Neill and 13 from senior forward Erin Sweeney to hold off Mount St. Joseph, 47-41, in the opening round of the Class 5A tournament.
With the win, Carroll (15-10) advanced to the second round on Wednesday at a place and time to be determined. The Magic finished 18-8.
With just two seniors on the roster, the Patriots are getting acclimated to what it takes to win in the state tournament.
“They were more seasoned,” Carroll coach Renie Shields said of last year’s team. “This team is young. They’re not seasoned yet to situations in games.”
The veteran Sweeney was key to the Patriots’ victory.
“Obviously, we don’t have a lot of experience,” Sweeney said. “They’re young. People don’t really know how big these games are. They’re kind of like do-or-die.”
The Mount, the No. 3 seed from District 1, gave the Patriots, who are the third-place team from District 12, all they could handle. The Magic grabbed their biggest lead, 15-6, when senior guard Lauren Vesey (13 points) hit a shot in the lane with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
But Carroll rallied and finally took the lead, 23-21, when O’Neill drained a pair of free throws. The Mount cut the lead to 38-35 when senior Taylor Sistrunk converted a free throw, but a Sweeney three-pointer with 5 minutes, 41 seconds left was enough to keep the Magic at arm’s length.
Archbishop Carroll 9 14 15 9 - 47
Mount St. Joseph 15 6 9 11 - 41
AC: Grace O’Neill 17, Erin Sweeney 13, Taylor Wilson 9, Maggie Grant 3, Meg Sheridan 3, Rose Henry 2.