Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
SPRINGFIELD — Brooke Wilson loves to play at a million miles an hour. Which is great for the Archbishop Carroll sophomore when it comes to, say, chasing down loose rebounds, or finding her way to open spaces, or playing in-your-face defense at any opportunity.
Playing point guard, however…that requires a change of pace. And that’s not something that comes naturally to the 5-foot-9 bundle of energy from Bryn Mawr.
Brooke Wilson (above) stuffed the stat sheet as Carroll downed Rustin on Tuesday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“My big thing is getting slowed down, and that’s so hard for me,” Wilson said. “So many coaches have said ‘just slow down,’ and you don’t know how hard that actually is.
“I just like to sprint and go crazy, which can be a good thing — it helps me, it’s my strong suit, but it can also be my weakness,” she added. “I just need to take a deep breath, remind myself to slow down, and that usually works.”
Whatever Wilson’s doing, it seems to be working. The impressive underclassman showed off all aspects of her game on Tuesday night, doing just about everything as Carroll rolled to a 68-37 win over West Chester Rustin in a neutral-court game at Cardinal O’Hara.
The magic number of the night was eight: Wilson had that many points, rebounds and assists, to go along with three steals. A strong, athletic guard, she was able to create off the bounce and get into the lane, but also knew how to feed the post and see cutters on the move.
Playing in control with the ball in her hands, she didn’t look to be rushed or sped up, with Carroll keeping its turnovers in the single digits.
“She’s done a really nice job of taking it in the lane and kicking or just finding the open girl,” Carroll senior Grace O’Neill said. “I think she’s done a really nice job.”
O’Neill, the Patriots’ Drexel-bound senior guard, finished with a game-high 23 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists of her own and she split time on the ball with Wilson. The 5-5 guard missed the first three games of the season with mono, which is what initially forced Wilson to make the transition from the ‘2’ to the ‘1’ a bit sooner than anticipated.
There were struggles out of the gate, including some turnover issues early as Carroll dropped tough out-of-state games to St. Frances (Md.) and Staten Island Academy (N.Y.), but the Patriots have rallied to improve to 4-3 with Tuesday night’s win. Wilson gave her Division I committed teammate plenty of credit in helping her overcome the early downers.
“She’s the best mentor you could look for, she’s helped me so much throughout these one and a half years I’ve been at Carroll, I couldn’t ask for a better leader on the team,” Wilson said. “She’s helped me all throughout the way just by giving me pointers; when she had mono, throughout practice she was by my side telling me ‘no, don’t do that, do this,’ and on the court it’s the same exact thing.”
O’Neill is one of two D-I commits on Carroll; the other, senior Maggie Grant (Villanova), was one of two starters unavailable Tuesday evening, along with junior guard Meg Sheridan.
Taylor Wilson (above) scored 16 points in the win over Rustin, including 12 in the second half. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Also a major help: Taylor Wilson, a junior forward and Brooke’s older sister. Taylor contributed eight rebounds (three offensive) and 16 points against the Golden Knights (4-2), including 12 in the second half on a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor as the Patriots took a 15-point lead and built on it over the closing quarters.
The Wilson sisters might not be named Ann and Nancy, but there’s no doubt they bring plenty of heart — and then some — to the Carroll squad.
Both are getting recruited at the Division I level: Taylor, a 5-11 forward, is hearing from Ivy League and Patriot League programs; Brooke already has an offer from Fordham under her belt, and said she’s hearing from Providence College. Both played with the Comets this past summer on the Girls’ Under Armour Association circuit; Taylor with the Comets’ 16U squad, Brooke with the 15s.
“I always wanted to play college basketball, it’s been a dream of mine since I was little,” Brooke said. “But I’d say this past year, I definitely realized that this is what I want to do [...] going to these tournaments and seeing college coaches walking around, you’re like oh my gosh, that’s Geno [Auriemma]. It’s crazy.”
Now they’re two major pieces on a Patriots’ squad with Catholic League and PIAA state title aspirations.
“We go at it sometimes, but for the most part, it’s always great having her there,” Taylor said of her younger sister. “If something’s not going our way, I always have her, I can tell, and same for her with me. She’s always great just to lean on.”
As the older sister, Taylor’s the main reason the two are at Carroll, picking the program she watched win the Philadelphia Catholic League championship as an eighth grader, relishing the opportunity to play for longtime Patriots head coach Renie Shields. Brooke said she likely would have picked Carroll anyhow, but having her big sister there certainly didn’t hurt matters.
“I had an amazing freshman year experience and after seeing that, it was just kind of like a no-brainer for (Brooke) to come,” Taylor said.
The pair got into hoops in elementary school, their father Dave, who played ball in his earlier high school years at St. Joe’s Prep before focusing on football, spurring their interest with stories of the Catholic League and its wealth of basketball history. He coached them in their CYO ball at Saints Colman John Neuman, Brooke playing up with Taylor for their first few years.
Now the two share the court again in high school, with plenty of 1-on-1 driveway matchups sprinkled between.
“I post her up most of the time, so I get a little bit of an advantage that way,” Taylor said. “But they get very competitive.”
Carroll: 16 | 19 | 17 | 16 || 68
Rustin: 11 | 9 | 11 | 6 || 37
Carroll: 28-51 FG (8-19 3PT), 4-4 FT
Rustin: 12-43 FG (2-10 3PT), 11-21 FT
Carroll: G. O’Neill 23, T. Wilson 16, B. Wilson 8, Schumacher 7, Hippert 5, Nardi 3, Hennessey 2, K. O’Neill 2
Rustin: L. McGurk 20, Costin 7, Stackhouse 4, Flynn 2, E. McGurk 2, Panetta 2
Doogan, O’Hara romp in opener
The hosts for this two-day affair, which was supposed to feature four games each day before COVID pauses hit the area’s teams hard, had no issues with Episcopal Academy in a 60-31 win to open up the evening.
Senior forward Maggie Doogan, a Richmond commit, had 24 points, including four 3-pointers, without playing the fourth quarter as the Lions’ reserves finished things out.
“I thought she looked real good tonight, she had juice in her, and when the shots are going in, you always get a little extra energy,” said O’Hara head coach and Maggie’s mother, Chrissie Doogan.
The defending PIAA Class 5A state champs also got 13 points from Marshall commit Sydni Scott and nine from senior Anne Welde. Only a couple games remain until Catholic League play begins, next Thursday at Archbishop Ryan. Doogan’s focused now on getting her youngsters as much experience as possible to prepare them for the stretch run.
“We have three sophomores that didn’t get a lot of minutes last year, and a freshman [Molly Rullo] who’s stepped right in and I think she’s leading our team in minutes right now,” Doogan said. “It’s just getting them comfortable with each other and opening your mouth when there’s things to do, trying to get them comfortable. I keep telling them, nobody’s going to get mad at you if you open your mouth.”