skip navigation

PIAA 4A/2A: Audenried rallies for first state win; Constitution wards of Delco Christian

03/12/2023, 1:30am EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)


BENSALEM — As the shots continued to go off the mark on Saturday afternoon, Audenried sophomore Shayla Smith had a voice in her ear making sure they kept going up.

“I kept telling her D1 players keep playing,” Audenried senior ZayAhni Neurell said. “The mental state, if you’re hurt, D1 players keep playing, so don’t stop. I kept whispering stuff in her ear to be able to keep playing. … No matter how you start, it’s how you finish.”

The first-time Public League champions had more history to make and Neurell knew at some point, Smith, the Public League MVP, was going to help them make it.

After an offensive struggle for most of the game, Smith exploded for 15 of her team-high 19 points in the fourth as Audenried rallied from 14 down in the second half for a 59-54 victory over Berks Catholic in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A tournament on Saturday at Bensalem. 

Audenried's, from left, Aniyah Howard, ZayAhni Neurell and Shayla Smith helped the Rockets to the first PIAA win in program history Saturday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

It was the first state playoff win in program history for coach Kevin Slaughter’s Rockets.

“Over time, it just clicked,” Smith said. “That always happens. I knew in the back of my head I was going to get this W and of course they’re helping me, keeping me positive.”

Berks Catholic senior Caraline Herb, a Chestnut Hill commit, stole the show for the first 24 minutes. She finished with 27 points, scoring 25 in the first three quarters.

After 15 first-half points, including four threes, put her team ahead 32-23 at the break, Herb scored the first four points of the third as the Saints (20-7), District 3’s fifth seed, expanded their lead to 38-24. 

Even with Smith struggling, Audenried (21-6), the top seed out of District 12, climbed back within four, but Herb went on a personal 6-0 run to put BC back ahead by double digits, 44-34, heading into the final quarter.

“It was scary at first because we were losing, but we kept building each other up,” said Audenried junior Aniyah Howard, who finished with 18 points. “Keep encouraging each other, keep playing and not put our heads down. Keep getting buckets, keep scoring and playing defense.”

Smith and Howard combined for nine straight points to start the fourth. Howard converted an and-one and then Smith another to make it a 44-43 with 5:31 to play. The teams exchanged a few buckets until Nurell, who had nine points of her own, pulled up for three to tie the score 50-50 with 2:20 to play to finally erase the 14-point hole.

“It’s like the momentum was there, the adrenaline was rushing, and I was trying to win the game,” Nurell said of the shot. “It didn’t really feel real. It didn’t really feel like anything. I just let it go and if it went in, it went in.”

“That was when I was like, ‘Oh we in this. We got this,’” Smith said. “That’s when I knew we were gonna win.”

An 8-for-27 showing at the free throw line for Berks Catholic, including 2-for-16 in the fourth quarter, kept the door wide open for Audenried and the Rockets took advantage. Smith gave her team its first lead with 1:20 to play. Madison Langdon (13 points) answered, but Smith went to the foul line and knocked down a pair to make it 54-52 with 46.5 seconds to play.

After getting a stop, Audenried senior Shyann Osborne, who had the hot hand early with eight first-quarter points, added to the lead by splitting a pair of free throws. Herb pulled BC back within one, but the Rockets broke the press and Smith euro-stepped her way through a pair of defenders and to the hoop to push the lead back to three. On the ensuing possession, she grabbed a rebound and knocked down a pair off free throws with 1.6 seconds left to finish off the history-making victory.

“I don’t know. It just was natural,” Smith said of the euro move. “I practice that stuff all the time. It’s really nothing when I do that out on the floor. It’s the fact that it was in a big moment.”

Howard and the seniors Neurell and Osborne and others like freshman Aniyah  Cheeseboro, who got hurt diving on the floor, had their moments in the comeback win.

“Because it’s my senior year, I’m like, ‘We gotta pull through. We gotta win this game,’” Neurell said. “I can’t go out in the first round. I just had to be that leader and put on that cape and put my team in a position to win.”

Slaughter said his squad was 0-for-9 in state playoff games entering this season. The Rockets will try to make him 2-10 in the PIAA bracket when they take on District 3 fifth seed Trinity in the second round on Wednesday.

“We just breaking records, we just making history right now, and we want to keep it going,” Smith said. “We’re trying to go all the way to Hersehy.”

By Quarter

Berks Catholic 13 | 19 | 12 | 10 || 54

Audenried 12 | 11 | 11 | 24 || 59


Berks Catholic: Carline Herbs 27, Madison Langdon 13, Molly McFadden 7, Sydney Corado 4, Sydney Brown 3.

Audenried: Shayla Smith 19, Aniyah Howard 18, ZayAhni Neurell 9, Shyann Osborne 9, Sakina  Nelson 2.


Constiution seniors Tymir Brown-Smalls, left, and Aamir Murray were two of four double figure scorers on Saturday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

PIAA 2A: Constitution wards off Delco Christian

Aamir Murray and Tymir Brown-Smalls weren’t sure what their postseason availability would look like when they arrived at Constitution this fall — Murray  by way of Bonner-Pendergrast and Brown-Smalls from Neumann-Goretti.

Brown-Smalls got the news he was eligible early in the season, but Murray had to wait until deep into the season until the PIAA approved him for the Generals’ postseason run.

“It was a big relief,” Murray said.

Constitution finished as the state runner-up in each of the past two seasons. If the senior newcomers weren’t aware of the program history, Generals coach Rob Moore made sure to explain it before Saturday’s PIAA Class 2A opener against District 1 two-seed Delco Christian. Moore’s teams 

Murray (14 points) and Brown-Smalls (11 points) were up to the task, joining sophomore Talasi Henderson (14 points) and junior Kyree Latimer (11 points) in double figures in a 63-53 over the Knights in what they hope is the start to a state championship run in their final high school seasons.

“He said that basically in eight years they haven’t lost in the quarterfinals, so we have to beat the expectations,” Murray said. “Our game plan is to basically get out on teams and play the game at our pace not theirs, slow the game down and rebound the ball.”

Constitution jumped out to a 15-5 lead with a couple of early threes — two by Murray and one by Henderson. 

“They came out in man,” Brown-Smalls said of the hot start. “Nobody can guard all five of us in man, so every team we play is gonna go 2-3. We’ve been dealing with a 2-3 for the last 10 games.”

The Generals led 19-9 after the first quarter, but the Knights weathered the early shooting barrage and cut the deficit to two, 31-29, by halftime. Delco sophomore Caleb Jameson (12 points) hit two of his four 3-point shots in the second quarter.

Just as it started the first half strong, Constitution got off to a good start in the second half. Murray opened the scoring in the quarter and three and a half minutes later Latimer capped a 10-2 run to put the Generals ahead 41-31.

Junior Cole Pruessner scored 16 points and classmate Josiah Gaines scored 14 points for Delco Christian. Pruessner had 12 in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get the Constitution lead lower than five, 56-51, with 1:03 to play.

Constitution had just one basket in the final period — a drive by Brown-Smalls. They went 12-for-17 from the foul line over the final eight minutes to avoid any dramatic finish.

“We limited our 3-point shots,” Murray said. “Limited (ourselves) to getting to the paint, kicking it out, driving, laying the ball up so we can get free throws in big moments.”

Constitution gets District 11 champion Mahony Area in the second round on Wednesday. The Generals haven’t lost to a non-District 12 opponent before the state title game since 2013. It’s a streak they cope to continue as they pursue the school’s first state title since 2018.

“We just gotta lock in,” Brown-Smalls said. “All of us have to stick to defense and play hard.”

“I wanna finish my career with a state championship.”

By Quarter

Delco Christian 9 | 20 | 10 | 14 || 53

Constitution 19 | 12 | 17 | 15 || 63


Delco Christian: Cole Preussner 16, Josiah Gaines 14, Caleb Jameson 12, Khamai Orange 4, Beau Lyren 4, Bradford Berwick 3.

Constitution: Aamir Murray 14, Talasi Henderson 14, Tymir Brown-Smalls 11, Kyree Latimer 11, Khair White-Blaylock 7, Kory Jones 3, Kendall McCray 3

D-I Coverage:

HS Coverage:

Small-College News:

Recruiting News:

Tag(s): Home  Contributors  Owen McCue  High School  Boys HS  Bicentennial League (B)  Delco Christian  Public League (B)  Public League A (B)  Constitution  Girls HS  Public League (G)  Public League A  Audenried