Peters Township athletic director Brian Geyer has to add a banner to the purchase order he made at the beginning of the month for on March 22 the Lady Indians added to their basketball loot this season. They defeated Garnet Valley, 62-49, at the Giant Center to capture their first-ever PIAA championship.
The state title, along with the WPIAL District 7 title garnered on March 2 when North Allegheny tumbled, 43-40, in overtime, capped a perfect 30-0 season for the Lady Indians.
The way our gym is set up one wall has the section banners and I wanted to put another number up there,” said PT floor Bert Kendall, referring to this year’s Section 2 title. “The other wall is for WPIAL (championships) and there’s no girls’ basketball banners over there and I try to figure out where Brian (Geyer) is going to hang it. And then there’s the state wall, he’s going to have to buy one of those, too.”
Makenna Marisa made sure of that. The Penn State recruit led the Indians’ ambush against the 29-2 Jaguars. She exploded for 29 points by connecting on 11 of 19 shots from the field, including 3 of 6 from behind the arc, and 4 for 4 from the charity stripe.
The senior also dished up seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds. She added two steals.
The performance certainly impressed GV skipper Joseph Woods.
”She is the real deal. All-world,” he said. “She caused us a lot of problems. To me, the best basketball players are the players that have all the skill but make others around them better.
“(Marisa) makes that team excellent. She is the engine. She can score and dish. She is the best player, and we’ve played against some pretty good ones, that we’ve seen all year.”
“Makenna is a one-of-a-kind kid. She is a fabulous basketball player. She is such an unselfish player, a complete player. She had a great game and when we needed it, she delivered.”
Isabella Mills also delivered an exceptional finale before heading off to Case Western. The senior pumped in 14 points, grabbed six boards, blocked a shot, had two steals and also registered seven assists.
Journey Thompson displayed no noticeable freshman jitters as the 6-1 center converted 7 of 9 from the field and 2 for 2 from the line. She finished with 16 tallies.
Mackenzie Lehman dominated the boards, pulling in a team-high eight rebounds. The junior, who will play lacrosse at Liberty University, finished with three points and two steals.
Sophomore Jordan Bisignani played a solid 32 minutes at her starting guard slot and freshman Avana Sayles gave the team quality minutes off the bench.
”If you are going to make history,” Kendall said, “who better to do it with than these kids. This is a family.”
The clan swarmed the Jaguars from the start. They cruised to an 11-2 lead and led, 20-11, after one quarter. If Marisa wasn’t scoring, then she was getting the assist.
“I think the start was huge,” Marisa said.
Kendall agreed it was “really big” not to mention very important because the Indians wanted to dictate tempo. “We were going to be aggressive and it paid off,” he said.
The Indians widened their halftime advantage, 29-21, to double digits, 34-21, to star the third quarter. They outscored Garnet Valley in the frame, 18-9.
“We just wanted to keep pressuring and attacking throughout the game,” Marisa said. “I think that’s what we did. We were just hitting our shots. I thought it was one of our best performances all season.”
The performance was so flawless that the Jaguars had difficulty dented the deficit. They could only close it to nine points thanks to Brianne Borcky’s efforts. The Drexel recruit finished with 21 points.
Garnet Valley’s other D1 prospect, Emily McAteer tacked on 15 points. The Loyola recruit also pulled down 10 rebounds.
“We’ve had a few (great) performances, but against a really good opponent that was an excellent performance. One of our best,” added Marisa. “We played really well together as a team.”
Kendall agreed. He said that he couldn’t think of many things that he would change. Perhaps, with the resounding triumph, the only alterations would be to the interior design of the Peters Township High School gymnasium.
“I think it’s sinking in,” said Kendall. “We have been so focused on the next opponent and now there is none. We made history.”
In addition to winning the program’s first state title, the Indians become only the fourth WPIAL girls’ team to win a PIAA basketball title with a perfect record. The others were Mount Alvernia in 1983, Mt. Lebanon in 2009 and Seton La Salle in 2012.
Every player, including: Ava Pugliano, Nicole Lusk, Casie Cunningham, Lizzy Brucker, Dana Marchisotto, Morgan Marisa, Lizzy McPeak, Morgan Merdian, Jillian Stopperich, Emma Devine, Abbey Peyton, Natalie Barnicoat, Samantha Meyers and Gretta DeRienzo as well as the assistant coaches Katie Kendall and Samantha Loadman, also made that happen.