HERMITAGE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — One by one, the four North Clarion seniors came off the court during a late timeout.
That’s when the emotions hit them.
(North Clarion seniors, from left: Emily Aites, Gwen Siegel, Amya Green and Claire Kriebel)
Gwen Siegel broke down and hugged assistant coach Gabby Schmader. Amya Green didn’t want to come out of the game and protested. Claire Kriebel and Emily Aites also fought back tears.
It was the end at Kennedy Catholic High School Wednesday night against the high-powered District 10 champion Golden Eagles in a 60-23 loss in the PIAA Class A playoffs. What they accomplished, though, in their careers with the Wolves will last.
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“They play hard every single game and they don’t leave anything on the table,” said North Clarion coach Terry Dreihaup. “They work hard all summer. They word hard in the fall and in the spring. They put a lot of time in, and I’m just real proud of the way they play.
“They deserved (to come off the court together),” Dreihaup said. “They deserve the recognition.”
It was a tough draw for North Clarion in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Wolves (21-7) beat Ridgway in the third-place consolation game. Their reward? A date with Kennedy Catholic (22-2).
The Golden Eagles wasted little time establishing dominance, leading 13-2 midway through the first quarter and 21-5 at the end of the first eight minutes.
By the half, Kennedy Catholic was up 31-11 and the mercy rule kicked in with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
Three Golden Eagles finished in double digits with Paris Gilmore leading the way with 15. Freshman Monique Vincent added 13 and another freshman, Layke Fields, added 12.
“They’re a well-rounded team,” Dreihaup said. “They definitely outplayed us offensively and defensively. We didn’t match up well. They were really quick. But we played hard. We played hard for 32 minutes.”
Kennedy Catholic coach Justin Magestro had a clear plan of attack against North Clarion.
Pressure the Wolves’ guards. Create turnovers. Play up-tempo.
The Eagles checked the box on all three.
“We were hoping to do that because we knew Siegel was really good in the post and they had some other bigs,” Magestro said. “We felt we needed to do that to be successful, and I thought we did it really well.”
Siegel and Kriebel each scored six points for North Clarion.
The Wolves have posted a 73-22 record the past four years, including a District 9 title and a Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference crown.
“I’m proud of the whole team,” Dreihaup said. “It was a great season for them — 21-7 is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a good group of kids. I’ll miss the four seniors. They other kids are ready to work hard for next year and we’ll start there.”