skip navigation

District 1 5A: Girls Semifinals + Playbacks Previews (Feb. 23-24, 2024)

02/22/2024, 11:30pm EST
By Owen McCue

By CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

Last year's champion and runner-up are both alive on opposite sides of the District 1 5A bracket. West Chester Rustin and Villa Maria are back in the semifinals, looking to book back-to-back title game trips on Friday, while Bishop Shanahan and West Chester East try to get in their way. 

The winners will play in the district championship game on Wednesday at West Chester University.

There’s plenty more at stake in the District 1 5A field this weekend as the four quarterfinal losers will play for the final two spots in states. Third-seed Radnor gets seventh-seed Phoenixville on Friday, while top seed Gwynedd Mercy will face fifth-seed Lower Moreland with both of their seasons on the line on Saturday.

Here’s a look at all four games:


District 1 5A Semifinals

Bishop Shanahan and Sam Blumenthal are trying to continue an upset run to the District 1 5A championship. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

4) West Chester Rustin vs. 9) Bishop Shanahan, 7 PM
The defending District 1 champions stifled Lower Moreland with their press, got a big night from senior Riley Stackhouse (Widener) and received contributions from a plethora of others on Tuesday.  Junior 6-foot forward Sara Betchyk joined her in double figures with senior wing/forward Kailey Barry setting the tone defensively. Sophomore guard Jenna Kraft is a quick guard who can shoot it or beat her man, and senior guard Gia DeMichele adds another senior leader looking to make a repat run like last year.

Shanahan was in the district title game two years ago but went down to the Liacouras Center and watched Rustin win it last year. After upsetting Upper Moreland in the first round, the Eagles knocked off top seed Gwynedd Mercy, 47-44, on Tuesday to earn their semifinal spot. Senior guard Faith Ambrose led the way with 20 and her younger sister, sophomore guard Carmel Ambrose, had a second straight strong outing. Faith and senior forward Sam Blumenthal (Catholic) and senior wing Abbey Wolfe are the vets but youngsters like Carmel and classmate Lauren Foster, who had 23 in the opening round win over Upper Moreland have been ex-factors.

While these two teams are on the opposite side of the Ches-Mont League, they’re plenty familiar with each other as Friday will mark the fourth straight season they’ve faced off. Rustin’s won all three, including the most recent meeting in last season’s Ches-Mont League championship game. Rustin had a decent-sized student contingent on Tuesday night and could potentially have a home court advantage on Friday night. 

2) West Chester East vs. 6) Villa Maria
The Vikings are back in the district semifinals for the second time in four years. They’re trying to get the program to its first district title game EVER with a win. Even with some changing pieces, Villa has been one of the top dogs in 5A for awhile, including a runner-up finish last season and championship in 2022. The Hurricanes will try and make it three straight district title game appearances.

West Chester East held off Phoenixville in the quarterfinals. Junior forward Sofia Keith, sophomore guard Carly Bickle and junior guard Annalise Kubasko were in all in double figures in that one. But it just as easily could have been the likes of senior Annie Kerns or sophomore Lauren Horan, who are two of the others helping what could be one of the best teams in program history. Freshman forward Kayla Cochran adds a nice spark. Keith is a nice presence inside on both ends, and the Vikings are tough to beat when they're moving the ball and making shots.

Villa made one of the most recent high-seed runs to a district championship as the seventh seed two years, so it's no surprise the six next to the Hurricanes' name hasn't kept them from another deep run. Villa relies a lot on senior Carly Catania (New Hampshire) to not just score but shoulder the load for her team in a lot of ways. The other consistent threat throughout the season has been sophomore Sophia Tray, but senior Emma O'Hare has put some nice outings together recently too. Abby Ferry and Liz Sharp are two others. 


District 1 5A Playback

3) Radnor vs. 7) Phoenixville
The Raptors dropped their district opener for the second straight year when they fell to Villa Maria earlier this week — a tough quarterfinal draw. However, this year Radnor gets a second chance in the playback bracket. The Raptors have made the state playoffs five times in the last nine years (2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2022). Seniors Kate Gallagher and Caroline Monahan and sophomores Nyah Yao and Anna Reger are part of the core that's trying to add onto the impressive stretch. 

The Phantoms were the team that beat Radnor in the opening round last season, so they'll have plenty of confidence heading into this one as they try to clinch the program's first state playoff trip since 1987. Senior 6-foot forward Maliyah Warren was one of the bright spots in the opening round loss to WC East. Sophomore guard Kayden Baratta is a top scoring threat. The Phantoms could have an advantage inside with sophomore Riley Ford-Bey and junior Emine Ulcay two tough post threats who bring different things to the table.

1) Gwynedd Mercy vs. 5) Lower Moreland, 4 PM (Saturday)
AACA champion Gwynedd Mercy needs this one to keep its season alive after a loss to Bishop Shanahan in the quarterfinals. AACA MVP Emilia Coleman dropped in 22 points in the loss to the Eagles. The Monarchs have some depth with likes of sophomore guard Bailey Balkier in the backcourt and senior Dylan Burke and freshman Ali Kaltenbacher up front. They had to play from behind in the quarterfinal loss, something they'll try to avoid in the playback bracket.

Lower Moreland also found itself playing catch up in its semifinal matchup, watching Rustin dominant the opening moments of the first and second half. The SOL Freedom Division champions have some talent, including the uber athletic junior Brianna McFerran. Junior Dani Brusha will by motivated after some tough foul calls slowed her in the first game. McFerran and freshman 5-8 forward Sydney Santora will be key down low. Freshman Mollie Martin had a nice second half in the quarterfinal loss.

D-I Coverage:

HS Coverage:

Small-College News:

Recruiting News:

Tag(s): Home  Contributors  Owen McCue  High School  Girls HS  AACA  Gwynedd Mercy  Villa Joseph Marie  Central League (G)  Radnor  Ches-Mont (G)  Ches-Mont American (G)  West Chester Rustin  Ches-Mont National (G)  Bishop Shanahan  West Chester East  PAC (G)  PAC Frontier (G)  Phoenixville  SOL Freedom (G)  Lower Moreland