Vincentian jumps on rival North Catholic early, remains undefeated
The first meeting with North Catholic, decided by just one point, was the only serious challenge Vincentian Academy's unbeaten record has faced.
This time, though, the Royals made sure it wasn't close.
“We were coming out strong,” said sophomore Brenna Wise, who scored 16 points in Thursday night's 50-33 victory over North Catholic, giving Vincentian the Section 2-A title all alone. “We came with heart, and we just wanted it more.”
Kayla Key added 13 point for No. 1 Vincentian (21-0, 12-0), the defending WPIAL champion. The Royals have one game left, against Gateway.
“Going undefeated wasn't really our main concern,” Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief said, “but since we're undefeated now and there's only one game to play, we might as well go for it.”
Not only have the Royals beaten every opponent, they have outscored them by an average of 30 points. Six times the Royals have won by at least 40, including one 52-point section victory.
That's why the Vincentian hadn't forgotten the Jan. 14 game on Troy Hill, a slim 65-64 victory over No. 3 North Catholic (13-8, 10-2).
Now, three weeks later, the Royals used the final two quarters to steadily build a double-digit lead. That included an 8-0 run to start the fourth at North Allegheny's Marshall Middle School, an alternate home court for Vincentian.
“They played harder than us tonight,” North Catholic coach Molly Rottmann said. “Our kids didn't play hard; they played scared.”
The lead peaked at 20 when sophomore Sarah Marusic made a 3-pointer with 3:50 left.
“We felt like we let some plays in the first game get away from us,” Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief said. “We wanted to correct those mistakes.”
Vincentian used more zone defense this time than during the first game, Moncrief said, determined to keep North Catholic star Lauren Wolosik from driving to the basket. Wolosik, a Central Connecticut State recruit, still scored 19.
Wolosik had 32 in their first game. That included a closing-seconds basket that nearly was the winner until Wise answered with another. This time, the outcome was decided much earlier.
“We played so tough the first game,” Rottman said. “I don't know why we'd come in hesitant or afraid, but we did and they took advantage. ... Vincentian is a very good team, but we're certainly better than what we put out there this evening.”
Vincentian, which led 13-7 after one quarter, held a 26-19 edge at halftime. The lead reached double digits during the third quarter, when North Catholic was outscored, 15-8.
Last year, these teams also met in the WPIAL championship and the PIAA semifinals. For that to happen again, North Catholic needs to respond, Rottman said.
“If we can regroup and decide that's the team we don't want to be, I think there could be a third meeting,” Rottmann said. “But we have to find ourselves.”
Moncrief wouldn't count out another rematch.
“Going on history,” he said, “we'll probably see them again.”