Mary DeSimone accepts her role on the Archbishop Carroll girls’ basketball team as a “glue” type of player. She understands that, on most nights, the offense runs through Erin Sweeney, Harlem Jennings, and Grace O’Neill.
Even though the offense still featured Carroll’s top offensive players on Saturday afternoon at Cardinal O’Hara, DeSimone got her chance to shine mostly because Archbishop Wood did not pay enough attention to the senior guard.
So, DeSimone scored 16 points, including four three-pointers, to help lead the Patriots to a 63-48 victory over Wood in the PIAA Class 5A state quarterfinals. The victory advanced the Patriots to Tuesday’s state semifinals against Southern Lehigh. A trip to Hershey and Saturday’s championship game will be on the line.
As a team, Carroll drilled 10 threes against Wood, eight in the first half, to build a 36-22 lead at the break. DeSimone hit three of her threes in the first half, and two of them came right in front of the Wood bench, where the Vikings were screaming to let DeSimone shoot and guard the other Patriots.
“It made me feel a little mad,” said DeSimone, who conceded that she heard the Wood bench. “I knew they were going to leave me open [to guard Sweeney and Jennings]. It’s my job to knock these down. My confidence was definitely growing as I kept going."
This game was a rematch of the Feb. 25 Catholic League title game, in which Carroll beat Wood, 48-42, in overtime. When the PIAA brackets came out before the tournament, Carroll coach Renie Shields knew there was a chance of playing Wood again. But she didn’t spend much time looking at the matchups.
“I pay attention to who we’re playing next,” Shields said. “I don’t get caught up in [looking at the brackets]. What do we have to do to win our next game?"
The Patriots dominated from start to finish in this one. The 5-foot-10 Sweeney led Carroll with 19 points. The junior forward hit two threes and did the rest of her damage driving to the basket and at the foul line. Jennings was held to six points, while O’Neill had 15.
Wood’s chances to roar back faltered after the Vikings fell behind by 17 going into the fourth quarter. Coach Mike McDonald was hit with a technical foul for arguing a call, and Sweeney drained two free throws and converted a basket-and-one, as Carroll got the ball to start the fourth quarter.
Junior Lindsay Tretter paced the Vikings with 16 points. Wood will lose three players to graduation but will still have a strong group returning next season.
“They’ve seen how hard it is to get to a state championship, to win a Catholic League championship," McDonald said. "That should, hopefully, motivate them.”
After the game, Shields stuck to her plan when asked how it felt to be one of the four teams still playing.
“I really don’t look at it that way," she said. "I look at it like us winning our next game.”
Archbishop Wood 11 11 8 18 -- 48
Archbishop Carroll 17 19 12 15 -- 63
AW: Ryanne Allen 12, Noelle Baxter 8, Kaitlyn Orihel 4, Lindsay Tretter 16, Annie Whalen 8.