With Kate Connolly as a do-everything type of player, the Souderton girls’ basketball team is aiming to claim the PIAA District 1 Class 6A title and make another strong run in the state playoffs.
The 6-foot-1 senior wing and Drexel signee is the latest and last of Mo and Terry Connolly’s five children to make a considerable mark on the hardwood.
Her four brothers — Mike, 29; Jim, 27; Kyle, 26; and Ryan, 24 — played at Souderton. Mike and Ryan went on to play at Kutztown; Jim was a 1,547-point career scorer at Philadelphia University.
“I was always at games growing up,” Kate Connolly said. “Some people say I have Jim’s temperament, that I get pretty angry when my shot isn’t falling.”
Connolly is averaging about 11 points per game for Souderton, which is 24-2 overall and the No. 1 seed in districts. The experienced Indians won their first Suburban One League playoff crown with a 48-29 victory over Central Bucks South.
Connolly, whose versatile and unselfish play is easily noticeable, produced nine points against C.B. South and the same in a 66-26 semifinal win over Plymouth Whitemarsh.
“She’s a good three-point shooter, a solid defender and shot-blocker, and has a very high basketball IQ,” said Souderton coach Lynn Carroll, whose squad advanced to the state semis last season before being nipped by District 7’s North Allegheny, 32-31.
Connolly spent two years at Archbishop Wood before transferring to Souderton. “She made an immediate impact for us,” Carroll said. “She’s been a great addition.”
The Harleysville resident said she switched to Souderton to be closer to home. “The commute to Wood, which was about an hour each way, was getting to be too much,” she said.
Since she began playing organized basketball, Connolly has countless times heard stories about her father’s standout career.
Jim “Mo” Connolly, a 6-foot-7 sharpshooter, starred at Father Judge (class of 1976) and at La Salle College while playing alongside future Olympian and NBA player Michael Brooks.
As a junior, Connolly delivered a team-high 16 points as the Crusaders surprised Roman Catholic, 48-46, at the Palestra to earn the program’s first Catholic League title.
“Roman had won the last two titles and came in as the favorite, so winning that game was a big thrill for us,” said Connolly, a sales representative for a sports medicine company.
Judge’s stellar campaign, sparked by Connolly and Al Clancy, came to a close when it lost to 6-6 sophomore Gene Banks and West Philadelphia, 67-45, in the city final at Temple’s McGonigle Hall.
“Gene Banks was obviously a great player, even as an underclassmen,” said Connolly, who played in the legendary Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, which was held from 1965 to 1991 in Pittsburgh, as a senior. “He was so strong and physically imposing.”
Connolly, who grew up in Oxford Circle and attended St. Martin of Tours, went on to be a three-year starter and 1,232-point career scorer at La Salle.
In Connolly’s final season at La Salle, he averaged 14.4 points and 5.9 rebounds to help the Explorers go 22-9 and qualify for the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. The squad bowed to Joe Barry Carroll and Purdue, 90-82, in the opening round.
Connolly, who was picked by the Phoenix Suns in the eighth round of the 1980 NBA draft, and wife Terry coached their only daughter when she played CYO basketball for Corpus Christi in Lansdale. Terry played basketball at Wood and focused on track and field, as a hurdler, at La Salle.
Kate Connolly, who played AAU ball for the highly successful Comets, chose Drexel over fellow finalists Delaware, Lehigh, and Jefferson.
“I really like the team’s chemistry,” she said. “Coach [Denise] Dillon has developed a family atmosphere there, and that was a big attraction for me.”