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2024 Philly Girls Live: Coverage Notebook (Pt. 2)

06/17/2024, 3:30pm EDT
By CoBL Staff

By CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)

The inaugural Philly Live girls’ event took place this past weekend at Jefferson University, with 26 girls’ teams from Pennsylvania, N.J. and Delaware coming up to play live games in front of Division I coaches as well as small-college coaches, scouts and media.

Here’s Pt. 2 of our coverage notebook, focusing on local teams and players over the course of the event:

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2024 Philly Girls Live Coverage
Notebook (Pt. 1) | (Notebook (Pt. 2) | Day 1-2 Standouts | Day 3 Standouts | 

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Lansdale Catholic working on a bounce-back

If there is an early favorite to win the girls’ Catholic League championship this coming season, it could be the Crusaders. 


Sanyiah Littlejohn (above) and Lansdale Catholic are aiming for a bounce-back. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

They return five of their top six players, including two of the premier players in the area in 6-foot-2 senior center Grace McDonough, who has enjoyed a big spring, and 5-foot-8 senior guard Sanyiah Littlejohn, a three-year starter. They will be joined by 5-8 senior Nadia Yemola (another 3-year starter), 6-foot sophomore Allie Esposito, and a pair of 5-7 junior guards, Aubrey Mobley and Kyara Benjamin.

The Crusaders played twice on Friday, beating Upper Dublin, 44-36, and crushing Gloucester Catholic, 53-32, in which Littlejohn scored 25 points and had four steals, while causing college scouts to nod collectively each time she drove the lane and finished.

This is a revenge tour for the Crusaders, whose season ended in the Catholic League quarterfinals in February, ending their season at 16-6 (7-4 Catholic League). But their season really ended with a surprising regular-season loss to Nazareth Academy, which affected their seeding in the Catholic League. It was the kind of paralyzing loss the Crusaders are working to correct this summer.

“I think we definitely have the potential to make it lot farther than we did last year, and against Nazareth, we did not play well at all,” said McDonough, who is looking to make a college choice in August or September. “We did struggle a lot in some games to communicate, and I think it is the reason why we fell short. We would come out slow and not pick it up during games. That is what happened in the Nazareth game. We were down at halftime in that game and we did not pick it up. We have the skill set and the players to make it all the way this year.”

Both McDonough and Littlejohn pointed to Esposito as a difference maker, based on her athleticism and skill.

“I blame myself a lot over last year,” Littlejohn said. “I could have been more assertive and showing up more. Our problem last year was team chemistry and body language. I am ready to be a leader this year. I do and will shoot more this year. It’s a confidence thing. I think we are good enough to make a state-championship run.”

This has been a productive summer for the Crusaders. They are working out more together and competing in summer leagues.

“My assistant coach, Trenell Clements, and I talked about how we were a 2-11 team during the COVID season, then went a few years ago and won everything we could win,” Crusaders coach Eric Gidney said. “Our emphasis was we had to go through the down time to find that success. We had to go through last year to find that fire again. We see now every time we walk into the gym with this team. We are finding ways to mold all that disappointment again into potential greatness.” — Joseph Santoliquito 

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Lebanon’s Correa nearing end of impressive prep career

Kailah Correa is on a mission for her senior season.

The 5-foot-7 guard from Lebanon has secured some impressive personal accolades in three seasons with the Cedars, including first team all-state honors in Class 6A this past season and a shot to score 2,000 points as a senior. While she appreciates all of that, Correa really wants something to celebrate as a team.

“We just want to make a run in the postseason, every one of us is ‘chip chasing.” Correa said. “ We lost (Zariyah Whigham), who was an important senior for us, but we’re looking for some new girls to come in, rebuild it, do what we know how to do and get it done.”

Lebanon has made a couple trips to the area in recent years, most notably their first round PIAA 6A win at Haverford in the 2022-23 season where Correa put on a show. The guard, who blends plenty of creativity and tenacity in her play, is also no stranger to the Philadelphia area as part of the Philly Rise program, playing on their 17U EYBL team.

Correa has plenty of motivation. She has two tattoos on her left forearm, the art on the outer side reading “HUMBLE UNDER GOD” while on the inner part of her arm, a pair of messages span a depiction of the Brooklyn Bridge - an homage to her father’s hometown - reading “My family’s keeper” and “For them, I’d risk it all.”

The Cedars lost in the Lancaster-Lebanon League title game each of the past two years and as the top seed in District 3’s Class 6A a year ago, they were knocked off by Dallastown in the semifinals.

She’s also not alone in that desire to win a title. Rising senior Lili Harrison, a 6-foot-3 post, is a legitimate presence inside and rising junior Olive Brandt is a dependable two-way contributor for coach Jaime Walborn’s group.

Lebanon went 1-1 at the inaugural Philly Live, falling to West Catholic 50-49 on an and-one at the buzzer in a very compelling game Friday night, then bouncing back with a 59-51 win over Holy Spirit (NJ) on Saturday. Correa spent a lot of Friday’s game setting up teammates but when the clock got late, the guard got aggressive and it was her free throws with 7.3 left that gave the Cedars a 49-47 lead before the Burrs won it.

“It’s team goals,” Correa said. “It’s a team sport, if we’re not making the postseason, then nothing I do means that much.

“These are my sisters on and off the court. We’re going to come back stronger.”

Correa listed her three-point shot as her main area of improvement this summer. She’s a maestro with the ball, able to shake defenders off the dribble or throw a pass on a string to a teammate so she feels building some consistency as a perimeter shooter will be the next step. Correa has been drawing Division I interest almost since she stepped foot on a high school court for the first time. She said Delaware has been making an aggressive push and Stony Brook re-offered her following Joy McCorvey taking over the program in April.

While she hasn’t finalized a decision yet, Correa added that she’s close and expects to announce her commitment relatively soon.

Correa is looking forward to her last month with the Rise, which will be highlighted by trips to Louisville then Chicago for the EYBL championships. Her Rise team, which includes Westtown’s Jordyn Palmer, Jessie Moses and Atlee Vanesko, won the 16U EYBL title last year.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Correa said. “Being a part of Philly rise and playing on the circuit, there are girls who are better than me but it definitely makes me work harder.” — Andrew Robinson

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Quick Hits
— Upper Dublin got a first look, albeit a limited one, at its future this weekend. The Cardinals lost three starters from last year’s SOL Liberty division champion and won’t have rising junior Megan Ngo at the start of the season, but that doesn’t mean coach Morgan Funsten and his staff are starting from zero. Tamia Clark is back off a strong freshman season and had a solid weekend, while Bridget DiMartile - a lacrosse standout and starting striker in soccer who wasn’t with the team this weekend - gives UD athleticism and size. The team isn’t putting a timeline on a return for Megan Ngo, an all-state selection after last season, after February’s knee injury. Her sister, incoming freshman Lexi Ngo, also had a nice weekend while showing plenty of poise, creativity and fearlessness - like her sisters Megan and Amy, she’s not afraid to take charges - while the UD staff also sees incoming freshman Ella Morris as a potential contributor.

— Conwell-Egan will certainly see some new contributors next season, although the Eagles will also be able to rely plenty on Lily Milewski for one more year. Milewski, a 6-foot forward with local Division II interest, is a tough cover and played well throughout the event. Around her, CEC had a lot of sophomores that seemed likely to fill out a large part of coach Chris Brennan’s rotation. Brianna Jackson saw plenty of time last year, while guard Olivia DellaVecchio made some good plays as a shooter and passer, also shaking off an inadvertent elbow to the face Saturday and finishing out the game. Junior Ariella Parks and sophomore Olivia Ditman also got plenty of time during the three day event. 

— Springfield (Delco.) will be a team to watch throughout the year, the Cougars bringing plenty of young talent to the table behind two great leaders in rising seniors Molly Clifford and Alyssa Estep, who always compete on both ends. Coach Ky McNichol has a nice blend of juniors, sophomores and incoming freshmen to work with behind her veterans. Rising junior  Lil Ditrillo performed well throughout a 2-1 weekend for Springfield. Rising sophomore Megan Zane was a contributor all through last season while classmate Abbie Mcfarland has been putting together a solid offseason. Incoming freshmen Addie Ditrillo and Delaney Kearney got their first action with the Cougars during the event.

— St, Thomas Aquinas (N.J.) brought some good basketball over the river. The Edison-based program went 3-0, capped with a 54-51 win over Lansdale Catholic on Saturday using a high-tempo approach and plenty of contributors. Rising senior Leah Crosby, an athletic 6-foot-1 forward and sharpshooting senior Gianna Chuffo led the way. Rising junior Kayla Navarro, a new addition to the program, already looked to be a natural fit with her teammates while rising juniors Trista Whitney and Jordan Barnes brought plenty of activity. The Trojans went 22-8 last season, reaching the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Tournament’s South Jersey Non-Public A bracket. — Andrew Robinson


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