Archbishop Ryan will try to become the second straight District 12 girls' basketball team to win a PIAA championship Friday when it plays Mount Lebanon in the Class AAAA final at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center at 6.
Archbishop Carroll won the Class AAA title last season, the Catholic League's first year in the PIAA.
The Ragdolls (21-7) will be underdogs to the defending state champion Blue Devils (28-2), but coach Jackie Hartzell said her team had grown used to that position. Ryan has knocked off a few tough teams - Bethlehem Liberty, Council Rock North and Red Lion - to reach the final.
"No one expected us to get this far," Hartzell said. "I don't think we have anything to lose. The pressure is on the them because everybody expects them to win. They're a very, very good team, not weak at any position. We'll have to play our best to give us a chance to win."
The Blue Devils are making their third straight appearance in the title game, and they have four of five starters back from the team that won it all last season. The year before, they bowed to Central Dauphin in the finals.
Their only losses this season were to St. Mary's and Brea Olinda, both of California. They hold a win over Archbishop Carroll, the District 1 Class AAA champ.
In beating Central Dauphin, 58-40, in the state semifinals, the Blue Devils got a team-high 15 points from senior Lauren Arbogast. But all five starters are capable of scoring in double figures.
Central Dauphin fell behind by 14 points early, rallied to pull within two, but Mount Lebanon's relentless pressure defense took its toll.
Twenty-six of Mount Lebanon's wins came by 10 points or more.
"There's no one player we can concentrate on," said Hartzell ,whose team has been led by seniors Jess Koci and Sarah Strybuc. "It will be a real challenge."