There is a lot of praise that can be heaped on the Neumann-Goretti girls' basketball team, but one must start with the fact that it completed a 30-0 season in dominating fashion.
N-G cemented its status as the no-doubt-about-it best team in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and earned bragging rights as the top squad in the nation in several polls.
The Saints are a no-brainer choice as The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania girls' basketball team of the year.
With at least six Division I recruits, the Saints have talent, and then some. They are quick, athletic and physical, but that isn't the extent of their aptitude on the basketball court. Opponents who expected N-G, a team full of great shooters and skilled ball handlers, to simply try and win in transition underestimated how well the Saints' offense ran.
N-G averaged 67.6 points per game and allowed opponents to score only 33.3 en route to a second straight Catholic League championship.
The Saints captured a District 12 Class AA title and routed Seton-La Salle in the PIAA Class AA state title game in Hershey.
Here are some other season-ending awards:
Coach of the year. In just his second season at the helm, Tom Lonergan has helped turn Gwynedd Mercy into a major contender.
Gwynedd Mercy won 23 games, including a District 1 Class AAA championship - the first for the program since 1993 - and reached the final of the Catholic Academies playoffs.
The Monarchs had won just 13 games in each of the previous two seasons.
Lonergan, who won his 600th game this season, won 270 games at Bishop McDevitt between 1984-1999. He then went to Central Bucks East, where he compiled 311 victories from 1999-2013.
Who knows what would have happened in the state tournament this season had the Monarchs not met Bonner-Prendergast and two-time Catholic League MVP Alyssa Monaghan in the first round.
With four starters returning next season, the Monarchs have to be early favorites in the league and district, as well as a team that could make a run in the state tournament.
Sixth man of the year. There were many reliable things about this Neumann-Goretti squad. One of them being that when Kamiah Smalls came off the bench, her presence was going to be felt.
Consistently a spark plug, the junior averaged eight points a game. She put up some big numbers in big contests, including 18 points in the state semifinals and 12 in the Catholic League final.
Newcomer of the year. Lizzy O'Leary was at Archbishop Wood last season. But the 6-foot sophomore forward really made her mark at Abington this season. Her presence in the starting lineup was immediately felt. A versatile player, she averaged 11.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks a game for the District 1 Class AAAA runner-up.
Most improved. Last year, Neumann-Goretti's Christina Aborowa was a big body, an imposing 6-foot-5 forward with potential. This season, she turned that potential into results, moving into the starting lineup and having a huge impact for the Saints.
The Texas-bound senior saved one of her best games for last: She finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the state final.