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GUAA Championships Notebook (Pt.1) (July 23-25)

07/27/2022, 3:45pm EDT
By Sean McBryan

Sean McBryan (@SeanMcBryan)

MANHEIM, Pa. — The Girls’ Under Armour Association Championships took place this weekend at Spooky Nook Sports complex, with some of the best programs from around the country coming to Lancaster County to compete for the GUAA title and plenty of college coaches filling in to see them.

Was on hand for several sets Saturday and Sunday and caught up with a few prospects who stood out during the action from both days:


More GUAA Championships Coverage: GUAA Championships Day One Standouts (Pt.1) | GUAA Championships Day One Standouts (Pt. 2) | GUAA Championships Day Two and Three Standouts

Comets' Lena Girardi, left, looks to pass while her father Joe films on his iPad behind. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Lena Girardi (2025 | Comets 15U | Westminster Academy, Fla.)

Lena Girardi always appears in control.

She did at the Girls Under Armor Association Finals this weekend as the leader for the Comets’ 15U squad that made it all the way to the championship.

She did as a freshman at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she averaged 20.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game in leading the Lions to their first state championship in 31 years.

“It was amazing,” Girardi said of her freshman season. “We knocked out powerhouse Miami Country Day to get to [the state final]. It was the best year ever. We’re a small school but we’re good.”

After the season, she won Freshman of the Year honors and a second-team All-state selection. Pretty impressive stuff for a freshman, but watching her play helps you understand.

It’s almost as if she comes from an athletic family, like one of her parents was a coach of some sort; it’s clear she has natural athletic ability but also a work ethic that exemplifies that ability.

Her father? Four-time World Series champion as a MLB catcher and manager Joe Girardi, which is why she comes up to the City of Brotherly Love to play AAU ball with the Comets.

“We come up here during the summer so someone recommended Comets and I’ve been with them since seventh grade,” she said. “I just take it year by year because we don’t really know where he’ll be with his job. We just take it one day at a time.”

She also played AAU ball for Empire State in New York when her father was coaching the Yankees. The different places she’s played have helped her game, but she just wants to play as much as possible, wherever it is.

“The kids up here [in Philly] are really good,” Girardi said. “They’re good in Florida and good here. The more you play, the better you get. Being able to play all over, I’m very lucky.”

The strong 6-0 guard’s game is already refined and well-rounded; she can shoot, handle, pass, defend, rebound at high levels. 

“I can play wherever they need me,” Girardi said. “I have an older brother who has helped me a lot. I’m strong, but I can play small guards, big guards. I can play in the post. Whatever the team needs, that’s what I try to do.”

She still feels there are areas to improve such as defense and free throw shooting and admitted that she wants to hit every single shot.

Shooting 100 percent from the field is something not even Stephen Curry can do; a few Division I programs aren’t holding it against her. She holds offers from Villanova, Pitt, and Manhattan College.

“It’s a blessing for sure,” she said. “Just need to keep working hard and stay focused.

“I just want to play for a national championship. Find the right fit and hopefully be playing for one of those in a few years.”

Joyce Edwards (2024 | FBC United 17U | Camden High, S.C.)

Joyce Edwards picked up a scholarship offer from South Carolina’s Dawn Staley before she started 8th grade. 

Even she wasn’t expecting it.“

Joyce Edwards, FBC United (Photo: Sean McBryan/CoBL)

It was a really good experience,” Edwards said. “It was my first time going to an individual camp and [University of South Carolina] is right down the road so my dad was like ‘why not.’ I was actually about to drive off after the camp because I had an AAU tournament and they called and were like, ‘you left too early, we were going to give you the offer after.’’

The offer still stood.

Edwards has played on the varsity level for the Camden Bulldogs in South Carolina since 7th grade, which means she has already completed an insane four-year high school basketball career and is headed into her fifth in her upcoming junior season.

The numbers are astounding: 

  • 23.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 4.4 steals and 2.3 blocks as a sophomore
  • 26.0 points, 14.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 5.7 steals, 2.1 blocks as a freshman 
  • 21.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 4.7 steals, 3.1 blocks as an 8th grader
  • 13.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.9, steals, 1.4 blocks as a 7th grader

The 6-3 forward showed her talents in leading FBC United to the 17U title game alongside fellow top recruits Courtney Ogden (Stanford commit, No. 12 in 2023), Zamareya Jones (No. 17 in 2024), Reniya Kelly (North Carolina commit, No. 14 in 2023), Essence Cody (Alabama commit, No. 24 in 2023), Jaloni Cambridge (No. 2 in 2024), and Ella Hobbs (No. 40 in 2024).

It’s scary that Edwards was clearly the top player on the team, and that she could get even better.

She played most of the game in the post in the quarterfinals, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds. But the jury is still out on what exact position, if any, Edwards will play.

She already has great post moves and footwork down low; she finds ways to seamlessly weave her way past opponents for soft layup finishes and aggressively attack the offensive boards. Any defensive rebound in her area is hers. The potential to play more on the perimeter is there; her outside shot is above average, as is her free throw shooting. Defensively, Edwards is a menace and can already guard point guards through centers if needed.

“My jumpshot, midrange,” Edwards said on improvements she wants to make. “Being more consistent at the 3. Just working on my handle and the fundamentals to stay sharp.”

On top of all the basketball busyness, Edwards finds the time to play two other sports and still get good grades in the classroom.

“School obviously comes first, I really focus on that,” Edwards said. “Basketball comes first in sports. Usually right after AAU I have some time to have fun with volleyball. Then I focus on basketball again. Definitely at the beginning of soccer season I can have fun with that, but towards the end [of soccer season] and AAU season picking back up I’m in the gym a lot more [for basketball].”

Playing the other two sports also help her basketball game, with volleyball honing her jumping ability and soccer assisting with conditioning.

Edwards hopes to take what she’s learned during AAU season and implement it during high school. The immense college decision looms, but she’s just taking it day by day.

Her most recent offers include Baylor, Central Florida, Georgetown, Oklahoma, and Ohio State; you’d be hard pressed to find a top program that hasn’t offered yet. Everyone she wanted to offer already has, and if a program didn’t yet, she’s been in talks with them.

“I don’t really know yet,” Edwards said of her college decision. “I’m kind of clueless in my process [at this point]. I’ll definitely be putting out a top five at some point.”

As the country awaits for that, the rising junior and top recruit in the 2024 class will continue putting in work.

“Of course I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Edwards said on being ranked No. 1. “Rankings don’t really mean a whole bunch. But since I am No. 1, I try my best to keep it. It’s not necessarily on my mind all the time. I just try to keep working on my game.”

Molly Rullo (2025 | Comets 15U | Cardinal O’Hara)

The state-championship-winning trio of Molly Rullo, Emily Knouse, and Lena Girardi was fun to watch all weekend at the Girls Under Armor Association Finals at Spooky Nook.

Last season, Rullo won the PIAA Class 5A title with Cardinal O’Hara, Knouse won the PIAA Class 4A title with Archbishop Wood, and Girardi won the FHSAA Class 3A title with Westminster Academy in Florida.

The three form a formidable trio during the AAU season on the Comets.

“We’re a pretty good trio,” Rullo said. “We try to put the team on our shoulders. I think we work very well together. It’s very easy to work with them and it’s really fun.”

All three are constantly moving, cutting, and creating opportunities for teammates. Their games, size, and composure are similar, but each has one specific area that jumps out while watching. Rullo is gritty and unselfish, doing whatever is needed to extend a lead or turn the tide and give the team a spark; Knouse has a pure jumper; Girardi’s ball handling is top-tier.

The one constant on these Comets teams is defense, something Rullo said has been preached since she started with the organization in 4th grade.

“I think we just pride ourselves on defense and that’s just something the Comets organization has always done,” Rullo said. “We always take defense first for Comets. Defense creates our offense and transition so I just thought that we had to get stops and it went well.”

What she thought went well was the 46-43 overtime victory over Western PA Bruins in the 2025 semifinals when Rullo snatched three straight steals in the OT period. Those changes in possession led to a 3 from Knouse, which Girardi assisted on, and a tough driving layup from Rullo that helped catapult the Comets into the title game.

Rullo wants to make her shot more consistent heading into the high school season, when she’ll undoubtedly be tasked with a larger role after Cardinal O’Hara graduated Richmond-bound Maggie Doogan, Marshall-bound Sydni Scott, and Villanova-bound Anne Welde.

“I’m just looking forward to playing with my school friends again,” Rullo said. “It was a lot of fun going to the PCL and winning it and then the state championship. So we’re just looking to do it again and have some fun along the way.”

Rullo mentioned she recently picked up her first Division I offer, but is taking her time in disclosing that information, and wants to just find the right fit.

Comets' Emily Knouse shoots a three. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Emily Knouse (2025 | Comets 15U | Archbishop Wood)

Knouse, the 6-0 guard from Archbishop Wood, is a deadly shooter from anywhere on the court; her quick release makes it tough for defenders to even get a solid contest up.

It hasn’t always been that way.

“It’s definitely something I’ve worked on,” Knouse said. “As I got older, I realized I wasn’t one of the big kids anymore. I thought, might as well work on my outside shot.”

With Lena Girardi and Molly Rullo dipping, diving and moving the ball all around, Knouse’s shooting was a backbreaker for opponents in the GUAA semifinals.

“It’s so much fun playing with them,” Knouse said of the trio. “I’m so lucky to have them as my teammates. We play so well together, root for each other.”

Knouse also handled the ball to great extent, acting as the secondary ball handler to Girardi. It’s something she wants to continue developing as she heads into her sophomore season at Wood, when she’ll surely see an uptick in responsibility after the graduation of Vanderbilt-bound Ryanne Allen, Delaware-bound Bri Bowen, and West Chester-bound Shannon Morgan.

“These girls are really big and athletic and strong,” Knouse said. “I think it would be a benefit to myself and my teammates if I could handle the pressure.”

The Vikings will be defending a state title this season, but that won’t be something to worry about until after the PCL tournament. Knouse and the Vikings lost to Rullo, who had a game-high 19 points, and Cardinal O’Hara 55-48 in the PCL semifinals.

“First goal is to win the PCL,” Knouse said. “We were so close last year; we lost in the semifinals to O’Hara, which Molly plays on. It’s really cool to play against her.

“We have a different team this year though. Ryanne Allen left and is playing at Vanderbilt now. She’s a superstar. Now without her we are going to have to work that much harder and play more as a team.”

The rising sophomore will play a crucial role this upcoming season and people are already taking notice in the offseason. Like Rullo, Knouse said she received her first Division I offer recently.

Brooke Wilson (2024 | Comets | Archbishop Carroll)

The stigma is outdated, but those who think no defense is played on the AAU circuit should watch Brooke Wilson and the Comets 16Us, who held Below The Rim to 13 first-half points and 32 points overall in a 19-point win Saturday.

“Obviously in the Under Armor bracket there are some extremely talented teams,” the rising Archbishop Carroll junior said. “We’re talented but we’re not the most fundamentally strong. Like, you see girls dunking. It’s crazy. So in order for us to win we need to focus on our defense.”

The 5-9 guard gives maximum effort on the defensive end and has the speed to stick with perimeter players and strength to hold her own if switched into the post.

Her older sister, Taylor, gives the same effort for the Comets 17Us and it resulted in a commitment to Army earlier in July. Now it’s Brooke’s turn as she holds offers from Drexel, Saint Joe’s, Holy Cross, Fordham, and recently picked up an offer from Monmouth in late July.

But before both head off to play Division I college ball, the Wilson sisters have a high school season to play for Archbishop Carroll, which graduated Grace O’Neill (Drexel) and Maggie Grant (Villanova). The Patriots made it to the Philadelphia Catholic League final before losing to Cardinal O’Hara and made it to the second round of the PIAA tournament before a close loss to Cedar Cliff.

“PCL championship, first goal,” the younger Wilson said of the upcoming high school season. “And then a state championship.”

Erica Hall, Western PA Bruins (Photo: Sean McBryan/CoBL)

Erica Hall (2024 | Western PA Bruins | South Fayette)

Hall had an outstanding sophomore season out in western Pennsylvania as a starter on a South Fayette team that upset three-time defending champion Chartiers Valley, which had three Division I commits, in the WPIAL (District 7) Class 5A title game.

The district-winning Lions started only one senior and had two juniors and two sophomores, including Hall, in the starting lineup; Hall scored 10 points to give South Fayette its first and only district title since 2016.

“It was a really good win,” Hall said. “It was probably the highlight of my whole basketball career. We prepared so much for that game. It was weeks and weeks of preparation. We knew we were going to play them.”

With South Fayette reloading with only one starter graduating, Hall said she hopes to win a section and another WPIAL title and make a deeper run at states; the Lions lost to Moon in the second round of the PIAA tournament last season.

The 5-10 guard played a lot of her minutes in the post at this weekend’s Girls Under Armor Association Finals and that versatility, and willingness to play wherever, will appeal to college coaches.

“I like being on the outside, but right now we don’t have our other post. Or if a post needs a break, I can go in there. I like playing all around; I can play anywhere. I’m a point guard though,” Hall said with a laugh.

The rising junior said she wants to work on her shot off the dribble going into next season with South Lafayette and that schools have been in contact but her and her family would be putting things together and starting to look at options after this tournament.

“I don’t really want to go too far from home,” Hall said. “But I don’t want to stay too close. I’d say Division I is the goal. Really whatever ends up being the best situation for me.”

Erianna Gooden (2025 | Below the Rim 16U | Northside, Ark.)

Gooden was playing up in the 16U bracket as a 2025, but you couldn’t tell one bit. Her strength was on par with the Comets’ 16Us, who utilize a swarming defense from a plethora of tough, physical guards.

The 6-0 point guard had defenders careening off of her as she drove to the rim and was able to gather herself and finish afterward.

“That’s natural,” Gooden said of her strength. “I’ve been working on it a little bit more in the weight room. But I’ve always been strong.”

Gooden scored 13 points as one of the few bright spots in the lopsided loss to the Comets. She showed a solid jump shot in the midrange and on a three-point attempt. Shooting, unlike the strength, has been a work in progress.

“I’ve had to work for that,” Gooden said. “Just being in the gym every day and getting reps.”

The rising sophomore attends Northside High in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and started as a freshman last season. The school won a state championship the year before that; Gooden had the Grizzlies right back in the state title game before losing to North Little Rock.

“It was very new and I was playing girls that were three years older than me,” Gooden said on starting as a freshman. “It was fresh, I think I had a big impact on the team but I could’ve done better than I did.”

Below The Rim’s 16U team features only two 2024 players and is a newer team, but with three other Northside teammates including her twin sister Erikka, Gooden thinks both her AAU and high school teams are going to be good going forward.

She mentioned wanting to improve her court vision and shot which “needs to improve if I want to go to the next level.”

Well, Gooden must be doing something right as she already has one Division I offer under her belt from the Summit League’s University of Nebraska-Omaha, which she picked up July 18.

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