Bishop Canevin girls find success at out-of-state tournaments en route to 7-3 start
Coaches and players across the WPIAL know they will be in for a battle when they step onto the court with the Bishop Canevin girls basketball team.
Now teams from across the East Coast know, too.
The Crusaders spent part of their holiday break in Florida to play in the Palm Beach Shootout. Bishop Canevin went 2-1 at the event, playing a pair of teams from Florida and another from Kentucky.
“It was a good experience,” Bishop Canevin coach Tim Joyce said. “We knew we were playing good teams. There were only eight teams there. But some were bigger schools, so it was a good opportunity for us to get better.”
Bishop Canevin (7-3, 4-0) opened the tournament with a 47-46 loss to Florida's American Heritage before bouncing back with a 48-36 win over Palm Beach Lakes; Shamyjha Prince had 24 points and Brionna Allen added 14 in the win.
The Crusaders ended the tournament with a 63-62 win over Louisville's Christian Academy as Price led the way with 27 points.
“We were able to run more of our sets,” senior Sarah Green said. “It was nice playing some different styles. We know about teams from around this area, but you don't know what to expect in these games. You just know the name on their jersey.”
It was the second out-of-state trip for Bishop Canevin this season. The Crusaders traveled to the She Got Game Classic in Washington, D.C., to start the season and played a pair of teams from New York City. They fell to Archbishop Molloy, 36-35, and topped Monsignor McClancy, 61-22.
The trips are part of Bishop Canevin's typically tough out-of-section slate. The Crusaders also scheduled Charters Valley, Vincentian Academy and South Fayette from the WPIAL in addition to Hollidaysburg and Slippery Rock.
“It helps you get better,” Joyce said. “I want our team to be challenged. I have never been hung up on being undefeated. I want to be the best team in late February and March.”
Despite the tough schedule, the Crusaders have one of the top defenses in Class 3A; Bishop Canevin is allowing just 34.6 points per game. The high-pressure defense the team uses is crucial to its overall success.
“When we press, we get hyped up,” Green said. “When we get a stop and a turnover and then score, we feel it. We want to go with nonstop energy.”
Bishop Canevin's offense has been averaging 49 points, led by a dynamic duo — Price averages 14 points and Allen more than 12.
But the Crusaders have shown the ability to spread the wealth on offense. Different players have stepped up each game to make an impact on offense, whether it is a veteran like Green, Kasey Kaczorowski, Zoe Woods or Lauren Gamble or a new face like Gillan Gustine.
“(Price) has developed her game more after relying on her athleticism last season,” Joyce said. “She can be electric at times. (Allen) has been really consistent. We know we will get 12, 13 or 14 points from her. We have got big shots from a variety of kids.”
Bishop Canevin is now in the midst of the Section 3-3A title chase. With games against other contenders Carlynton, Seton-La Salle and Avonworth ahead of them, the Crusaders have a chance to win their first section title since 2007-08.
“When we play our game and stay together, we can do anything,” Green said. “We want to just go practice by practice and game to game, but ultimately we want to win everything we can.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.