Girls’ V Basketball Takes State Championship by Downing Shipley
Molly Taylor scored 21 points to lead Mercersburg’s girls’ varsity basketball team to a 53-39 win over Shipley School (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship game February 27. Penn Charter School (Philadelphia) hosted the tournament.
Shipley had won the last two PAISAA basketball titles, and three of the last four, but Mercersburg was ready for the Gators on this day. The Blue Storm burst out to a quick 10-3 lead with Isiuwa Oghagbon ’17 collecting three buckets in the post and Taylor hitting a deep three-pointer, forcing Shipley to use a timeout less than four minutes into the game. After the timeout settled the Gators down, the two teams played pretty evenly for the rest of the half. Taylor hit an even longer three-pointer as the second quarter ended to give Mercersburg a 10-point edge (28-18) heading into the locker room.
At the start of the third quarter, Mercersburg ran off 10 straight points from four different players to bust the game open and build the lead to 38-18 with five minutes to go in the period. Shipley fought back and started to find its shooting touch, but the Blue Storm answered nearly every basket with a quick counter-attack, and took a 46-30 lead into the final period. The fourth quarter was more of the same as Mercersburg kept the lead between 14-18 points and cruised to the championship. With about a minute to play, head coach Katie LaRue pulled all five starters, including the four seniors (Taylor, Sarah Lyman ’16, Joana Santos ’16, and Tori Yoder ’16) playing in their final high-school game. The crowd, which included close to 50 Mercersburg students, staff, and parents, gave a long standing ovation to the starting five and hung around for the trophy presentation afterward.
Taylor added five assists to her game-high 21 points, and Oghagbon ended with 13 points and 14 rebounds, her third double-double of the four-game PAISAA tournament. Lyman led the team with 16 rebounds and Santos hauled down 10 rebounds as Mercersburg dominated the boards. Yoder had seven points, four assists, and three steals, and wore down the Gators by relentlessly running the floor.
After drying off from her celebratory mini-Gatorade shower, LaRue commented, “As a coach, you hope your team can show up for the big games, and today we did. We took off and never looked back. The girls were confident in each other and confident in our game plan. We executed on both ends of the floor. These girls have figured out how to play as a team and it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Mercersburg ends the season having achieved several milestones for the program including, of course, the team’s first state championship, first Independent-Parochial School League title, first appearance (a seven-point loss to Blair) in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship game, and the most wins (19) in school history. With a final record of 19-4 and state-championship medals hanging proudly around their necks, the girls are ready to savor and reflect on their impressive list of accomplishments.