Wilmington girls hope for ‘Hoosiers’-like effort
Feb 26, 2010

If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve likely seen the movie “Hoosiers.”

Wilmington High girls basketball coach Brian Turk has, which is why he referenced the 1986 classic in anticipation to his team’s battle with Villa Maria Academy at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Fairview High in the first round of the District 10 playoffs.

In the movie, a small-town Indiana high school basketball team wins the state championship against a larger and more talented opponent.

In this instance, the Lady Greyhounds are the underdogs and Villa Maria is the favorite.

The Lady Victors (20-2) currently are the No. 1 ranked team in Class AA and are the defending PIAA champions.

Wilmington, on the other hand, had to win seven of its last nine games to sneak into the postseason.

“A lot of movies have been made like that,” Turk said. “A lot of teams have pulled off miracles. I’m not saying that’s us, but anything can happen on any given day.”

The winner of tomorrow’s game will face the survivor of the North East-Sharpsville matchup in the semifinals at a time and site to be announced.

The Lady ’Hounds (14-8) will have to play a perfect game against Villa Maria, which features one of the best high school girls basketball players in the country.

Senior Kayla McBride is averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and three blocks per game. The 5-foot-11 point guard has signed with the University of Notre Dame.

She’s been plastered on local and national publications and is one of 24 McDonald’s All-Americans. According to the Erie Times, McBride is the first District 10 player ever to be named to the team.

“She handles the ball like a yo-yo,” Lady Victors coach Scott Dibble said. “She’s a really great player.”

On Jan. 28, McBride became Villa Maria’s all-time leading scorer with 1,422 points, surpassing Maria DiVecchio, who tallied 1,404 from 2000-04.

McBride, ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the 2010 class by ESPN HoopGurlz, leads a talented starting lineup that features four other seniors above 5-7.

That is the same height as Wilmington’s tallest starter, junior Julie Burns.

“A lot of times, you’re forced to play that zone defense and pack it in against those taller girls,” Turk said. “We’ve got to keep our hips low and keep them within five feet of us.”

Dibble said his team can go as many as eight deep off the bench. McBride’s younger sister, Karlee, is a 5-10 freshman who averages more than eight points in a reserve role.

Wilmington will combat Villa Maria with a guard-oriented attack that has put up solid numbers all season. Senior point guard Stephanie Kish averages 11.8 points a game, while classmate Ashley Gardner (8.2) and junior Haley Marett (9.5) provide help on the wings.

“She’s a good little player,” Dibble said of the 5-4 Kish. “I’m impressed with her. If she was bigger, she could play somewhere in college. She’s tough.”

The Lady Victors played a difficult schedule this year that included visits to five different states. Nationally ranked Oak Hill Academy in Virginia handed Villa Maria its second loss on Feb. 5 in Erie.

The Lady Victors, who made state championship appearances in 2002, 2003 and 2007 before winning it all last season, average 67.9 points as a team and only have allowed 30.2 a game.

In one of its most lopsided defeats of the season, Villa Maria defeated Youngsville, 100-15.

Turk said he has given his players video footage of Villa Maria to take home and study. Instead of shielding his girls, the third-year coach has been open and honest.

“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Turk said. “The one thing that we’re going to find out is what kind of heart that Villa Maria has. We’re going to put our squad of 10 girls with big hearts on the floor. We have big hearts and that showed toward the end of the year.

“Hopefully, that gets us into this game.”

And onto the big screen.
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