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PIAA 4A/3A: Audenried historic season ends; MCS comeback falls short

03/16/2023, 12:45am EDT
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

NEW HOLLAND, PA. — The Audenried girls basketball team climbed out of a double-digit second half hole for the first state playoff win in school history last week.

In their second round game against Trinity on Wednesday at Garden Spot HS, the Rockets appeared able to avoid that kind of deficit. With each Shamrocks run, they came up with one of their own. Going up, then going down in a true seesaw game.

Ultimately District 3’s fifth seed made one more run than the Rockets. When they fell behind by double digits in the fourth quarter, there was no epic comeback this time. Trinity ended a historic season at Audenried with a 67-50 loss in the PIAA Class 4A second round — the deepest run in program history.

“They had to climb, and they just did it last week, and it’s like, ‘Do I got another one in me?’ Today, I just think we ran out of gas,” Audenried coach Kevin Slaughter said.

Audenried sophomore Shayla Smith goes up for a shot Wednesday against Trinity. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

After trailing 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, the Rockets went on an 11-0 run sparked by sophomore Shayla Smith for a 21-12 lead a little past the midpoint of the second quarter. Smith had eight of her game-high 19 points in the second.

That was the first of a handful of big runs for both squads.The Shamrocks answered with six of their own to tighten things up before the Rockets took a 25-21 lead into the break.Trinity had the big burst to start the second half, reeling off 13 of the first 15 points of the third to go up 34-27. Junior Aniyah Howard , who finished with 15 points, had the answer this time, spearheading 10 unanswered Audenried points to make it 37-34 Rockets with three and a half minutes left in the third. She and Smith, the Public League MVP, will be a strong returning core next season.

“Coming back with Aniyah Howard and Shayla we’re already ahead of the curve,” Slaughter said. “It’s gonna be tough but we’ll be around in the little fall leagues and all the stuff like that.”

The 10-0 burst had Audenried feeling good, but the Shamrocks had a few more strong spurts left in them led by freshman Emma Kostelac-Lauer (18), senior Mandy Roman (17) and Sammi McAuliffe (14). Trinity closed the third with 10 of the next 12 points to grab a 44-39 lead. That got up to seven points on a Kostelac-Lauer bucket to start the fourth. Audenried got it down to five twice but by the 5:50 mark it was up to double digits after a steal by Roman led to a Kosetlac-Lauer fastbreak layup. Roman added one herself to cap an 8-0 run — 55-43 Shamrocks.

“We went on a run when we were up by like three or four then all the sudden they went on a run and our kids went dead for about four minutes,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter his team’s goal this season was to beat Imhotep for the first time this season, which they did twice to snap an 0-17 stretch during the series, including in the Public League championship game for the school’s first title since it opened in 1989.

They added the first state playoff win in program history too and won 10 of their last 11 games before Wednesday’s loss.

“We exceeded expectations,” Slaughter said. “Today, everything was like a blur. Like a movie when they show you your life flashes in front of you.”

“This team is special.”

The Rockets will lose three seniors, including Shyann Osborne, who Slaughter’s coached since middle school. Classmates Erionnah Shelly and ZayAhni Neurell, who finished with eight and five points, respectively, were key pieces of the rotation as well.

They helped set a new standard at Audenried that the Rockets’ underclassmen hope to supplant next season.

“Shayla just said in the locker room to the girls, ‘Next year, we’re going undefeated.’ … We already have a goal set,” said Slaughter, who added he’ll give himself a 30-day vacation before prep starts for next season.

By Quarter
Trinity 9 | 12 | 23 | 23 | 67
Audenried 10 | 15 | 14 | 11 | 50

Trinity: Emma Kostelac-Lauer 18, Mandy Roman 17, Sammi McAuliffe 14, Natalie Freed 9, Alina Torchia 8, Lucy Broadrick 1.

Audenried: Shayla Smith 19, Aniyah Howard 15, Erionnah Shelly 8, ZayAhni Neurell 5.


MCS senior Nayeem Johnson goes up for a shot Wednesday against Trinity. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

MCS comeback runs out of time

Math, Civics & Sciences’ season seemed just about finished less than a minute into the second half of its PIAA Class 3A second-round game on Wednesday. Trinity scored six quick points to go up by 20, growing that lead up to 25 not long after.

The Mighty Elephants seniors didn’t want that to be the way their season ended, making sure to make the most of the final 15 minutes of their high school careers.

“It was moreso, just we gotta fight back,” senior guard Nayeem Johnson said. “If we’re gonna lose, we’re not gonna get blown out. We gotta fight back. We gotta take each position and cut it down one by one.”

MCS trimmed Trinity’s lead all the way down to five late in the fourth quarter before time ran out on the Mighty Elephants’ miraculous comeback bid and their season in a 91-84 loss to the District 3 champs.

Sophomore Owen Schlager scored 40 points and made the necessary free throws late for the Shamrocks to hold onto the win. Senior 6-5 wing Isaiah Griffin had 26, Johnson had 20 and Chauncey Presley finished with 17.

“Just those guys being seniors, they wanted to go out on their shields, go out fighting,” MCS coach Lonnie Diggs said. 

MCS jumped out of the gate to an 11-2 lead, but the Shamrocks rallied for a 21-17 lead after a quarter of play and a 43-29 halftime advantage. The lead grew to 58-33 early in the third and stood at 69-50 entering the fourth.

Led by 16 points in the final period by Presley the Mighty Elephants chipped and chipped away. A Johnson putback made it 85-80 with about 30 seconds left but Schlager went 4-for-4 in the final seconds and MCS couldn’t force a necessary turnover or two.

The Mighty Elephants were without junior Nasseem Wright and senior Rashan Locke-Hicks for their PIAA run due to transfer rules. They didn’t reach the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time in 13 years. but despite missing two of their starters still found a way to come just a few possessions short of getting back.

“To be playing without our two leading scorers, for us to fight like that against a good team like that, I think it says a lot about the guys that we have,” Diggs said.

Johnson’s been at MCS for four years. He and five other seniors will be gone next season, but before they shared one final memorable season together.

“What really stood out is our chemistry and how we were able to bond on and off the court,” Johnson said. “Without basketball, we’re lifelong friends.”

By Quarter
Trinity 21 | 22 | 26 | 22 || 91
MCS 17 | 12 | 21 | 34 || 84

Trinity: Owen Schlager 40, Mike Bednostin 19, Cisse Adelphe 13, Reece Brown 9, Trey Weiand 8, Ryan Balaban 2. 

MCS: Isaiah Griffin 28, Nayeem Johnson 20, Chauncey Presley 18, Jeff King II 7, Mohamed Sesay 7, Alantay Dawson 4.


Wed., March 15
Boys 6A
(11-1) Parkland vs. (1-7) Garnet Valley (6 PM)
(1-2) Spring-Ford 43, (3-3) Hempfield 39
(12-1) Roman Catholic 60, (1-3) Lower Merion 56 (OT)
(7-2) New Castle 65, (1-4) Downingtown West 56
(3-1) Reading 86, (1-6) Upper Darby 58
(1-9) Coatesville 61, (1-8) North Penn 55
(12-3) Archbishop Wood 72, (3-6) Chambersburg 45

Girls 5A
(1-1) West Chester Rustin 49, (2-2) Abington Heights 46
(12-1) Archbishop Wood 42, (1-2) Villa Maria 29
(1-3) Bishop Shanahan 43, (2-1) Pittston Area 35.
(11-1) Bethlehem Catholic 34, (1-4) Gwynedd Mercy 24

Boys 4A
(1-1) Bishop Shanahan 69, (2-1) Scranton Prep 57

Girls 4A
(12-1) Lansdale Catholic 79, (4-2) Jersey Shore 42
(3-5) Trinity 67, (12-2) Audenried 50
(2-1) Scranton Prep 51, (1-1) Nazareth Acad.47 (OT)
(3-1) Wyomissing 40, (12-3) Neumann-Goretti 33

Boys 3A
(12-3) Devon Prep 82, (2-2) Mid Valley 52
(12-1) West Catholic 56, (2-1) Holy Redeemer 47
(3-1) Trinity 91, Math, Civics & Sciences 84 Girls 3A
(2-1) Dunmore 52, (12-1) Imhotep Charter 34

Boys 2A
(11-1) Mahanoy Area 58, (12-1) Constitution 40
(1-1) Dock Mennonite 60, (12-2) Sankofa Freedom 44

Girls 1A
(4-2) St. John Neumann 40, (1-1) The Christian Acad. 37

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