Neumann-Goretti's unsung trio boost key to championship drive
A.J. Timbers is lights out from three-point land. Alisha Kebbe has a penchant for rebounding and a tendency to be clutch in big games.
A.J. Timbers is lights out from three-point land.
Alisha Kebbe has a penchant for rebounding and a tendency to be clutch in big games.
Then there's Kamiah Smalls, the spark plug off the bench.
Their names may not be Ciani or Sianni - Neumann-Goretti's headline-grabbing backcourt duo of Cryor and Martin - but this unsung trio of guards help power the Saints.
They will look to continue that Friday at noon, when Neumann-Goretti (30-0) gets a rematch in the PIAA Class AA final against Seton-La Salle. The District 7 champions from the Pittsburgh suburbs are the only team to defeat the Saints the past two seasons.
With a win, they will have claimed five out of six championships, including league and districts, the past two seasons.
"It would mean a lot," Kebbe said. "Nobody did that before."
Timbers, Kebbe, and Smalls each have the ability to take over a game. And at some point during the season, all three have. It's just that their visibility isn't as high as some of the other members of the Saints deep roster, which features at least six Division I recruits.
The Towson-bound Timbers, a senior, brings experience and maturity. She transferred from Prep Charter after her sophomore year.
Smalls, a junior who verbally committed to James Madison, has a big personality.
Kebbe is quieter and more subdued, except when she hits the boards. The junior, who is deciding between a list of schools that includes Syracuse and St. John's, has a shy smile when talking about herself.
"You have all these teammates that you trust - that you trust with the ball," Timbers said. "We all stand out in different ways."
Trusting every player on the floor with the basketball is just one thing that's apparent on this team. There seems to be a fine-tuned focus; a one-team, one-goal approach shaped by last year's loss in the state final.
"A lot of people don't have a chance to win 60 games [over two years]," Timbers said. "People don't have that opportunity. And they don't have the chance to win championships back-to-back. I'm very lucky to have a team and a coach like I do."
The Saints use words like "luck" and "opportunity" often. The players realize they are a part of something special. Because even as talented as each individual is, they understand that "we" is greater than "me."
"We've got unfinished business," Smalls said. "And it's time to finish it."