Vincentian girls basketball proved they could play
In a season where the expectations were not high from the outside looking in, the Vincentian Lady Royals basketball team pushed on from last season's WPIAL championship without four of five starters and a key player coming off the bench.
The only returning starter, a sophomore, center Brenna Wise, who was teamed with senior guard Abbey Bartoszewicz, junior forward Ally Bartoszewicz, junior guard Kayla Key and freshman guard Torrieonna Cash. The key reserves were freshman Maia Joiner and Kiersten Elliott.
On paper, the Lady Royals looked to be rebuilding. In reality, the team repeated as WPIAL champions and, with 16 minutes to play in the PIAA Class A finals, trailed by a single point to a veteran Tri-Valley team. The experience showed for Tri-Valley, which took the state title, 59-42.
Although the Lady Royals feel they came up short of their goal, they forged a season that will not soon be forgotten.
“It was a good year,” Vincentian coach Ron Moncrief said. “This is not the ending we wanted … but, 29 wins, two losses, a section title, a WPIAL championship and a state finalist with a lot of younger kids, we have an exciting future.
“We will send these seniors out with three section championships, three WPIAL championships and a state finals appearance. We were one family, and this was great.”
Moncrief added that for the returning players, this was a learning experience. His squad hung tough for a half with the eventual state champs. He said next time they have to put two halves together.
“This loss gives us a lot of motivation moving forward,” Moncrief said. “But I want to say how much I will miss the seniors.”
Abbey Bartoszewicz was the most prominent senior, ran the offense and was a good scorer. Moncrief said she did a lot and that Allison Ware, Danielle Melvin and Shannon Masterson contributed much more than a stat sheet would indicate.
“We will miss Abbey's contributions and presence,” Moncrief said. “The other girls may not have seen a lot of minutes, but they put the team interests ahead of their own, and they knew their roles. We could not have done what we did without them. This was the most successful senior class I have ever had.”
Abbey Bartoszewicz said this season was the most amazing experience she has had and that not a lot of seniors can say they accomplished what she and her team have in a four-year span.
“This team will get back,” Abbey Bartoszewicz said. “I am so proud of them. We played together and with a lot of heart and proved a lot of people wrong this season.
“I will miss the whole thing. I just started to make relationships with the freshmen, and it is tough to leave Brenna, Ally and Coach Ron.”
Ally Bartoszewicz appreciated the season a great deal, especially having missed seven games early due to an injury.
“We rose above nonbelievers and injuries,” she said. “The bar has definitely been raised. It hurt, though, because the season didn't end the way we hoped. But this just acts as motivation.”
It is possible next season's team could be even better. Although Abbey Bartoszewicz will graduate, there are several young players who can step up and contribute in her place, and Wise will be back in the fold to lead the team once again.
“We took this season as far as we could,” Wise said. “We learned that we need to focus for the entire game. The Hershey Center was packed, and we came out in the first half but kind of died down in the second.
“We were young but did not let that effect us. Ron pushes us so hard, we push ourselves and we will remember what it felt like after the state finals game.”
With Abbey Bartoszewicz graduating, Wise likely will lead the team the next two seasons.
Wise witnessed a lot of good leaders during the past two seasons, and along with Moncrief coaching and Ally Bartoszewicz and Key returning as senior starters, there is little reason to believe the Lady Royals will not get another crack at the state finals.
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or.