EXETER — For the first time in school history, the Wyoming Area Catholic girls basketball team can say they are the best in the state.
On Sunday, March 13, the Cougars beat Our Lady of Peace School, 31-24, to win the Pennsylvania State Catholic Youth Organization School Grade Championship. The Cougars arrived back from the Pittsburgh area late Sunday evening and were treated to a parade and fireworks.
“We’ve been talking about this since fourth grade,” Wyoming Area Catholic coach Don Cassetori said. “I compared it to training for the Olympics. We knew that we could go to states once we got to this level.”
In the eight-team field featuring teams from the Dioceses of Allentown, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Scranton, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Erie and Altoona-Johnstown, the Cougars had to win three straight games to win the championship.
In the title game against Our Lady of Peace, Liv Moore led the Cougars with 10 points. Samantha Yencha had eight points, while Ann Bagnall chipped in with five. Camryn Cassetori and Carmeron Marcinkowski each had four points to round out the scoring for Wyoming Area Catholic.
In the opening round, WAC was a 26-11 winner against St. Theresa of Harrisburg. In the semifinal game against St. Andrew’s of Philadelphia, the Cougars opened up an early lead and went on to win 35-29. In the championship game, it was all Cougars. WAC controlled the game and were able to run out the clock at the end of the game for a 31-24 win and a state championship.
“The girls worked hard and earned it,” Cassetori said. “It was great to be able to see them celebrate.”
Members of the team are: Courtney Iskra, Grace Holmes, Tess Romani, Lynzie Skoronski, Marcinkowski, Gabby Morgan, Makaylee Crake, Bagnall, Cassie Bederavich, Jill Foley, Camryn Cassetori, Yencha, Moore, Leanna Lombardo and Chloe Morris. The assistant coaches are LeAnn Skoronski, Leo Skoronski and Brian Marcinkowski.
Wyoming Area Catholic represented the Diocese of Scranton at this tournament. They won the diocesan championship by defeating St. Clare/St. Paul School of Scranton in the Diocesan Championship, 41-26, on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Holy Cross High School. The Cougars last won the diocesan championship in 1976. This is the Diocese of Scranton’s third girls state championship.
Cassetori said the girls were a little tighter for the Diocesan Championship than they were for the state championships. There was more pressure, he said.
“It was a big relief,” Cassetori said. “I was more nervous for the diocesan game than the state championships. We could not have a hiccup in that game. That was the biggest relief when we won that game.”
Cassetori said the Diocese of Pittsburgh put on a great tournament. On Friday, the coaches held a meeting and then on Saturday morning all eight teams met for breakfast. On Saturday evening, all the teams met for church.
The coach compared the atmosphere of the state championships to an NCAA basketball tournament game and an NBA playoff game where defense really takes over. His team struggled to score, he said, as did every other team in the tournament.
“It was tough, hard-nosed basketball,” he said. “There was a lot of defense and the level of play was really intense.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick