West Catholic girls basketball looks to finish improbable run with state title

West Catholic
The West Catholic girls' basketball team poses for a picture after winning the District 12 title.

The West Catholic girls’ basketball team will try to complete a magical state playoff run with a win over Bellwood Antis in the PIAA Class 2A final on Monday at the Giant Center in Hershey. The final had been scheduled for Thursday but was moved to Monday in the aftermath of a major snowstorm.

Led by a strong group of underclassmen, including freshman Destiney McPhaul, the Lady Burrs (16-12) earned the top seed from District 12 after dismantling Motivation in the title game. They beat Steelton-Highspire, Southern Columbia, Mahanoy Area, and Penn Manor to reach the state final for the first time in school history.

West Catholic gained attention during the regular season by hanging tough with Catholic League powerhouses Neumann-Goretti, Archbishop Wood, Cardinal O’Hara, Archbishop Carroll and Bonner-Prendergast. The Lady Burrs went 5-7 in league play and lost to Goretti in the PCL quarterfinals. Key nonleague wins came against Episcopal Academy, Westtown, and Penn Charter.

Jaelyn Durrett is the lone senior on the team. Junior Daja Hosendorf, junior Amiyah Edney, junior Beautiful Murray-Bey, junior Kyliah Singletary, sophomore Tamiah Robinson, sophomore Kaori Saunders, freshman Safara McIntyre, freshman Ciani Montgomery, and freshman Daisy Montgomery round out the roster.

West Catholic head coach Beulah Osueke has done an outstanding job of turning around a program that was 0-18 five years ago. The Lady Burrs have won four consecutive District 12 championships – 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 – and reached the quarterfinals of last year’s state tournament.

Tina Hollen is the lone senior on a Bellwood Antis (27-3) team that features sophomore guard Alli Campbell (26.1 ppg), junior guard Riley D’Angelo, sophomore guard Emilie Leidig, and sophomore forward Sakeria Haralson. The Lady Blue Devils, who earned the third spot out of District 6, beat Kane, West Middlesex, Chartiers-Houston, and Blairsville to reach Thursday’s final.

“I’m very happy for our kids,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney told the Altoona Mirror. “They’ve never been [to the state championship], and I wanted to take them there. A lot of people thought we were a year away because we were so young, but they’ve never believed that.”

Bellwood Antis will also be playing in its first state title game. They lost to Bishop McCort in last year’s semifinals.