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Vincentian basketball star Wise beyond her years

| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 6:15 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Vincentian's Brenna Wise shoots over Old Forge's Natalie Bieryla during the Class A PIAA championship Saturday, March 22, 2014, at Giant Center in Hershey.

Every athlete dreams of being a prominent player on a championship team.

Accomplishing that feat once is difficult let alone doing it multiple times. This season marked the third consecutive WPIAL Class A girls basketball championship for Vincentian Academy and junior center Brenna Wise.

In March, Wise carried the load in the PIAA playoffs and helped her team cap off the season with a state championship, her first.

“It still has not sunk in yet, it was an incredible experience,” said Wise, a Cranberry native. “I am blessed, but I am greedy, I want another one.”

Wise lives in the Seneca Valley School District, but opted to attend the small Catholic school because of her faith, academic goals and because it was a smaller school that her brother was attending.

“Going to a big school has crossed my mind, but one thing Vincentian has put in perspective for me is that it does not matter the size as much in girls basketball,” Wise said. “It's all in what you have. We have played up against big schools, Gateway and Butler … and we have done really well.”

Academics are a priority for Wise, who wants to attend a Division I school. She has offers from Pitt, Virginia Tech, Villanova, Princeton, West Virginia and Kentucky, but has yet to commit.

“I am still making progress, and I still have time,” Wise said. “I have been beyond blessed.”

During the past three seasons, Vincentian has piled up an 84-7 record. These figures include a 34-2 section record and 24-2 playoff record.

The Lady Royals were a good team under coach Ron Moncrief before Wise arrived, making it to two WPIAL championship games, winning one. With Wise on the team, the Lady Royals — who have seven WPIAL girls basketball titles total — have won three consecutive WPIAL crowns.

Athough Wise is a key part of the team, she refuses to accept all the credit.

“When I got here, I had to compete for my spot like everyone else,” Wise said. “But, I am a goal and a dream chaser. You have to set high goals, or you will go nowhere.

“I just went out and did the best I could. … People said this team was great, and my goal was to complement the team. I didn't want to be average.”

As a freshman, Wise's size, strength and energy helped complement senior guards Ashlee Darby, Noreen Fischer and Laura Primyon. That team unseated the mighty defending champion North Catholic.

Her role expanded the following season offensively and defensively, and she grew as a leader. Moncrief paired Wise with a defensive-minded forward in Ally Bartoszewicz and another scoring guard in Abbey Bartoszewicz. Different configuration, same result in the 2012-13 season.

Wise headed into her junior season with Ally Bartoszewicz still her running mate in the front court, and a trio of versatile guards in Torrienna Cash, Kayla Key and Maia Joiner working the perimeter and guard/forward Kiersten Elliott taking the focus off Wise.

“My role has expanded and leadership comes with experience,” Wise said. “We definitely have a bullseye on us, but I look at pressure like it can burst pipes, or it can make diamonds. … You do what it takes to succeed. This team likes pressure. We like tight games. I am better under pressure.”

Despite the team's WPIAL dominance in the past three seasons, Vincentian still lacked that PIAA crown. The team had lost in the state finals in 2013, and Wise said the loss left a terrible taste in their mouths.

“Having the experience from last year made all the difference,” she said. “We were not as taken back or shell shocked by the Giant Center.”

Wise will play Division I basketball after her senior season at Vincentian and perhaps take her game overseas after that.

“I will keep working on my ball skills, my shot and keep lifting weights as I try to transition my body into a more athletic body,” she said about her plans for her senior season.

Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or jeclark@tribweb.com.

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