Girls Basketball: Cardinal O’Hara defeats Neumann-Goretti in PCL Championship
The Philadelphia Catholic League championship games were held this past Monday at the Palestra on the beautiful campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
The first of the doubleheader featured girls’ basketball powerhouse the Cardinal O’Hara Lions, who was defending its PCL title from last year. Standing in their way was the Saints of Neumann-Goretti, who was looking for their first PCL crown since 2015.
Led by Maura Hendrixson’s 26 points, O’Hara took down Neumann-Goretti by a score of 54-39. The game was close for basically the entire game, until madness ensued in the fourth quarter and a technical foul was followed by more technical fouls. During that stretch, Hendrixson connected on 5-of-6 free throws (13-14 overall) to help put the Saints away.
Neumann-Goretti held small leads after the first three quarters and received a balanced scoring attack overall. With Tatiana Jones and Dajiah Parmley down low, one would think that the Saints would win this game with their overall size.
Jones got in foul trouble early, however. As a result, Neumann-Goretti looked stagnant on offense and was not able to get high percentage shots.
“We just tried to play together as a team for 32 minutes,” Hendrixson said. “Even when we were down consistently after the quarters I thought that we would be in good shape.”
Also chipping in for the Lions on offense was senior guard Mackenzie Gardler, who scored 17 points and shot 8-for-10 from the free throw line. O’Hara shot 86 percent overall from the charity stripe.
“I can’t even begin to explain how proud I am of these girls,” Lions’ head coach Linus McGinty expressed. “To win two straight championships in this league with your tallest player being maybe 5’10” the whole way, it’s a hell of a thing.”
“This is special, really special. And I’m not saying that last year or the other years weren’t special. But the fact that Maura, Mackenzie, and Molly (Paolino) have played 115 straight games together and get to finish their final PCL title game as the champions is essentially the icing on the cake.”
Paolino is credited by her head coach and teammates for her defense in this game. Jabria Ingram, who is Neumann-Goretti’s leading scorer on the season, had just nine points on 4-16 shooting overall and was tightly guarded by Paolino for most of the game.
“If it were up to me, I would immediately vote Molly for a spot on the All-Catholic League team,” said McGinty. “It’s a travesty that she’s not even considered.”
For Neumann-Goretti, Parmley led her team with 10 points. Both teams will begin states next week.
Photo Credit: Jack E. Kapp