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PCL Semifinals: Wilson leads Carroll past O'Hara; Wood bombs away against Nazareth

02/20/2024, 11:30pm EST
By Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3)

PHILADELPHIA — There are two sides to Brooke Wilson the basketball player.

There’s “reckless Brooke,” a whirling dervish of energy and gusto that may do some head-scratching things but also others only she can deliver. Then there’s “smart Brooke,” the one who plays at a slower pace, with a little more control and like the senior she is.

Tuesday, No. 3 Archbishop Carroll needed both Brookes to survive a furious rally by No. 2 Cardinal O’Hara and win its PCL semifinal 45-38.

“That’s probably my biggest thing I’ve been working on,” Wilson said. “I’d so much rather be ‘reckless Brooke,’ because I can just run all over the place and don’t have to think, but it’s actually much harder to play slow. I tell myself to just walk the ball up and it’s so hard, but I play better when I slow down.”

The win sends the Patriots to the Palestra for the second time in three years, where they will attempt to win their first PCL title since the 2018-19 season. Getting there required quite the effort.

Halfway through Tuesday’s semifinal, it looked like Carroll was in position to roll its way into the final. The Patriots barely missed in the first half, hitting 10-of-14 shots and 4-of-6 from long range in building a 28-8 lead while O’Hara couldn’t buy a hoop going 3-of-18 from the floor and 0-of-7 from three.

It was not a precursor of how the next 16 minutes would go.

“We weren’t ready and we should have been ready,” Carroll coach Renie Shields said. “You get up 28-8 and you get a little bit comfortable, as much as you tell them they can’t be comfortable.”

O’Hara senior Joanie Quinn started the third by getting to the foul line and sinking both shots. No sooner had the second gone through the net then the Lions were in their full-court press.

They got three steals in less than a minute, the last leading to a basket by Carly Coleman and prompting a timeout by Shields. 

“I don’t think we realized how long and quick they are but very soon we realized,” Shields said. “We had to get the ball and go. When we needed, Brooke started to attack more, which was great because that was what we needed.”

A little too much of “reckless Brooke” came out in the third quarter. The senior was tagged with a foul 52 seconds into the period, relegating her to the bench for a spell but the real harm came when she tried to take a foul with 1:23 to go in the frame and got her fourth instead.

Shields immediately took her out, even with Carroll having committed 10 third quarter turnovers and 10 points from Quinn helping the Lions clip the lead to 32-25. Her stay on the bench didn’t last long, as soon as Quinn drew an and-one on a drive a minute into the fourth, Wilson re-entered.

Giving “smart Brooke” a little more leeway, the senior wouldn’t pick up the disqualifying fifth foul even if it meant doing a few things very unlike her.

“It’s just being smart, knowing what the refs are going to call and what they’re not, I let a couple layups go because I couldn’t get that foul,” Wilson said. “I tried to get two charges, which was stupid on my part. I already had fouls and with the way the game was going, I shouldn’t have done that.”

Carroll didn’t turn the ball over as much in the fourth, aided by some poised play from freshman Abbie McFillin, but their once 20-point still got whittle all the way to three on a Molly Rullo drive with 3:43 to play. No sooner had Rullo cut the lead to 35-32, there was Wilson driving down the lane for an answer.

“Second half, so much of what was in our head was ‘don’t turn it over, don’t turn it over,’ half of us weren’t even thinking about scoring,” Wilson said. “I said alright, they’re trying to jump the ball, everyone’s just watching the ball, I’m going to go.

“I kind of channeled my old, reckless self. I said ‘can I just take this one?’”

Wilson took that one and after Carroll escaped unscathed on the following possession, she took the next one too with the same result.

The senior finished the game with eight points, five rebounds and four assists and it was the smarts to use her reckless energy as catalyst on those final two baskets that proved most important.

“Brooke getting going, realizing as a senior, she put the team on her back and ran,” Shields said. “That’s what changed the game. She’s a really special player.”

Quinn led all scorers with 17 points, with Rullo adding 11 and Coleman seven for O’Hara.

Alexis Eberz led the Patriots with 13 points, Abbie McFillin had eight off the bench while her sisters Maddie and Felicity each had five.

Wilson lost in her last trip to the Palestra and she wasn’t on the team yet when the Patriots last won a PCL title. Monday night, Carroll will probably need a little of “reckless Brooke” and a little of “smart Brooke” as she tries to remedy that.

“I’ve played so many games of Carroll basketball and I’m finally starting to learn to just take a deep breath and slow down,” Wilson said. “You can control how fast you play. You can control the tempo no matter if it’s going in their favor or they’re on a run, take a deep breath and control it this play.”


By Quarter
AC: 17 | 11 | 4 | 13 || 45
CO: 3 | 5 | 17 | 13 || 38

AC: Alexis Eberz 13, Brooke Wilson 8, Abbie McFillin 8, Felicity McFillin 5, Maddie McFillin 5, Olivia Nardi 4, Bridget Archbold 2

CO: Joanie Quinn 17, Molly Rullo 11, Carly Coleman 7, Brigidanne Donohue 2, Megan Rullo 1



Eight minutes changed everything.

Ava Renninger (above) and Wood are in the PCL championship once again. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

After a strong finish to the first quarter, No. 5 Nazareth Academy sat on equal footing with top-seeded Archbishop Wood. Back in December, the Vikings had rolled the Pandas in their first-ever PCL game, but a lot had changed in that time.

The Vikings’ ability to lock down on defense and hit a barrage of threes had not, and that’s what Wood leaned on to break the game open. Wood sank six total three-point looks in the second quarter as it out-scored Nazareth Academy 28-7 in the period. 

“Preparing was a bit of a head game, we wanted to make sure they were engaged and not coming in thinking it would be the same game,” Wood coach Mike McDonald said. “(Nazareth) was a different team, they’d been playing much better and they had the big win over Neumann(-Goretti), the win over Lansdale (Catholic) before that and they beat Gwynedd (Mercy Academy), another solid team in the area, over the last couple weeks."

Wood will return to The Palestra for a second straight year as the program plays for a PCL title for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons. The Vikings’ last title came in 20-21 and while none of the current players saw time in that game, they were all there last year in a 50-47 loss to Lansdale Catholic.

Senior Ava Renninger, who paced Wood with 18 points, said there wasn’t a lack of motivation on Tuesday. She and her teammates see the title game next Monday as a chance to make it up to last year’s seniors by bringing home a championship.

“It pushed us all season to get back three, so we’re definitely excited,” Renninger said. “With seven seniors, you wanted to do it for them and for the person next to you, but it pushed us into states. For the returning players, we wanted to go back and get another shot.”

Aside from Renninger, the Vikings got 10 points each from Sophia Topakas, Emily Knouse and Alexa Windish.

Abby Rock led the Pandas, and all scorers, with 19 points including five makes from three-point range.

“We did a great job in the second quarter of responding,” McDonald said. “We moved the ball, got great shots and clamped down defensively.”


AW: 10 | 28 | 14 | 11 || 63
NA: 10 | 7 | 18 | 10 || 45

AW: Ava Renninger 18, Sophia Topakas 10, Emily Knouse 10, Alexa Windish 10, Lauren Greer 6, Makayla Finnegan 3, Sophia McDonald 3

NA: Abby Rock 19, Gracie Sullivan 8, Rileigh Donohue 6, Reese Power 6, Anna Kane 3, Alyssa Browning 3


Catholic League Girls

Semifinals (Tue., Feb. 20 at the Palestra)
3) Archbishop Carroll 45, 2) Cardinal O’Hara 38
1) Archbishop Wood 63, 5) Nazareth Academy 45

Championship (Mon., Feb. 26, 6 p.m. at the Palestra)
1) Archbishop Wood vs. 3) Archbishop Carroll

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Tag(s): Home  High School  Girls HS  Nazareth Academy  Catholic League (G)  Archbishop Carroll  Archbishop Wood  Cardinal O'Hara