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St. Joe's WBB commits Snead, Casey face each other for first and last time

01/22/2023, 7:30pm EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

EAST FALLS — Lansdale Catholic’s Gabby Casey and Penn Charter’s Aleah Snead both got a text from their future college coach Cindy Griffin on Sunday.

Griffin let the two 2023 Saint Joseph’s commits know about the Hawks’ home game against Fordham later in the afternoon. More importantly,  she wished them luck for their own games earlier in the day — against each other.

“It was like, 'Play great. You'll be competing next year with each other,' or something like that," Casey said. "It was funny."

Casey and Snead, AAU teammates for the Philly Belles, played against each other for the first and only times of their hoops career during Sunday's Maggie Lucas Classic at Jefferson.

Though Lansdale Catholic cruised to a 61-33 win behind 25 points from Casey, it was a memorable moment for the two close friends before heading off to Hawk Hill together next season.

“We always wanted to match up together,” Snead said. “I think it’s special before we go off to college, to play against each other before we’re on the same team and try to win together — one last time be opponents.”

Lansdale Catholic's Gabby Casey, left, handles the ball against Penn Charter's Ryan Carter on Sunday at Jefferson. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)

Snead and Casey met two years ago when they joined the Philly Belles AAU program. Griffin’s daughter Hannah plays on the same team.

They were the new girls on the team, so they naturally gravitated toward each other. That relationship carried over and continued to grow.

Snead made her commitment to St. Joe’s on March 29, 2022 and Casey said it wasn’t a coincidence she announced her decision to head to Hawk Hill less than a week later 

“First year, we kind of got close because we were the newer girls and the next year we really got close,” Casey said. "She’s really one of the main reasons I chose St. Joe’s just because she’s a great leader and just to feel comfortable with someone.”

Along with never matching up as opponents prior to Sunday, Snead said the two AAU teammates rarely went up against each other even in practice over the last two years, usually playing on the same side. 

They put their friendship on hold for an hour and a half for Sunday’s game. Casey said the two avoided eye contact in the pre-game captain’s meeting.

On the court, they didn’t match up too often but Casey got the best of Snead on a few possessions, including a block, which was promptly followed by a wide grin.

“At the end we hugged,” Casey said. “She’s a great person, and I’m so excited for St. Joe’s, and I’m really looking forward to rooming with her and getting closer with her.”

Penn Charter's Aleah Snead, left, drives on Lansdale Catholic's Nadia Yemola on Sunday at Jefferson. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)

In their two AAU seasons together, they’ve learned plenty about the way each other plays. There were no surprises Sunday.

“She’s very competitive all the time and she’s not gonna take no crap from anyone,” Snead said.

“It was the same hard working kid I always knew,” she added.

Casey is the Crusaders primary ball handler. She has a great understanding of finding ways to get to the hoop and also finish once she gets there. She has an improving jump shot too, topping the LC career scoring list (boys and girls) with a third-quarter three.

Snead is a 5-11 wing with an inside and outside game. She plays both roles for the Quakers, leading her team out in transition, doing some of the ball handling and driving and stepping out to knock down shots. She also does a lot of damage in the paint and on the glass. Sunday wasn’t her best outing, but she still finished with nine points.

“I think Aleah really drives to the basket well and she’ll be able to find me, kick it out to the corner,” Casey said. “That’s what we did during the AAU season. She’s so fast and has a really quick first step and her defense is amazing as well. I think both our skill sets together is going to be tough to match.”

“We’re both the same a little bit,” Snead said. “We drive, take the ball to the basket and we’re both hard working, but I feel like she pushes me in a way that no one should be better than me and I always have that mentality.”

Lansdale Catholic's Gabby Casey (15) poses with her teammates after setting the Crusaders' school scoring record against Penn Charter on Sunday at Jefferson. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)

Snead and Casey have plenty in front of them this season before joining forces. Snead and the the Quakers are currently in the driver’s seat in the Inter-Ac, chasing an undefeated league record and the school’s first-ever back-to-back titles.

Casey and the Crusaders (12-1, 4-0 PCL) are one of the favorites in the Catholic League as one of the three teams with a perfect league record intact. At the expense of Snead’s PC squad, Casey and her teammates proved they’re the real deal on Sunday.

“We wanted to play Penn Charter because everybody kept saying our schedule was weak and everything,” Casey said. “We were ready for it, and I think it showed. We came out from the jump and really took it to them, and even in the second half we turned it up a notch.”

Both are excited for what is in store after this season. Snead and Casey went on their official visits to St. Joe’s together on Sept. 28, staying in adjacent rooms. They plan to room together next season. They also sat together in Hagan Arena for the Hawks’ opener Nov. 7 against Bucknell. 

Despite a loss to Fordham on Sunday, St. Joe’s is 14-5 overall and 4-3 in the Atlantic 10. With a talented sophomore core, and the addition of a promising 2023 class of Snead, Casey and Lizzy Gruber, there should be a lot of wins on Hawk Hill over the next several years. 

“They’re having a great start,” Casey said.

“It’s really promising that we have a great team to play for next year.”

Making it more exciting is that they’ll get to do it together.

“It’s really exciting to know who you’re going to college with and know that she’s a great player,” Snead said.

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