Catholic League playoffs: Ragdolls rally, advance to semis


After en­dur­ing a four-game los­ing streak head­ing in­to the Cath­ol­ic League play­offs, the Arch­bish­op Ry­an girls bas­ket­ball team found them­selves down 10 points in the first quarter at Bon­ner-Pren­die.

A back-break­er? Not on Kalene Cof­fey’s watch.

Cof­fey, a seni­or guard for the Rag­dolls, erup­ted for 13 of her game-high 24 points in the second quarter, as Ry­an went on to notch a thrill­ing 48-43 win. The Cath­ol­ic League quarterfi­nals vic­tory on Thursday night pro­pelled Ry­an in­to the semi­finals, where they will meet three-time de­fend­ing state cham­pi­on Arch­bish­op Wood on Thursday night at Phil­adelphia Uni­versity (6 p.m. tipoff).

Cof­fey’s out­burst couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time.

“She was very good,” Ry­an head coach Jack­ie Hartzell said by phone Fri­day af­ter­noon. “She made six of her sev­en three-point at­tempts, and like the rest of our kids, she didn’t give up when we got down early.”

As is usu­ally the case for the Rag­dolls when things are go­ing well, they got a com­plete team ef­fort from every­one in­volved. While Cof­fey was the scor­ing hero, fel­low seni­or Melissa Rizzo ad­ded 11 points and sev­en re­bounds, while sopho­more Dani­elle Skedzielewski chipped in with sev­en boards of her own. Ju­ni­or Taylor Adair filled the box score with three points, eight re­bounds and six as­sists while lim­it­ing Bon­ner-Pren­die’s best play­er — sopho­more Alyssa Mon­aghan — to 14 points.

Des­pite the four losses to close out the sea­son, Ry­an is view­ing the play­offs as a fresh start. Deep and bal­anced, the Rag­dolls boast a core group of five seni­ors — Cof­fey, Rizzo, Kel­sey Dale, Aman­da Wein­dorfer and Court­ney Helm — that all have big game Cath­ol­ic League ex­per­i­ence. Com­bin­ing that with the sopho­more and ju­ni­or con­trib­ut­ors (sopho­more Sam­antha Hicks and ju­ni­or Al­is­on Szyszko all play key minutes) gives the Rag­dolls the be­lief they can knock off Wood.

It will not be easy.

On the reg­u­lar sea­son’s fi­nal day, Wood throttled Ry­an, 42-18, (six less points than Cof­fey had on her own against Bon­ner-Pren­die). Just last night, the Lady Vik­ings made short work of an­oth­er loc­al team, troun­cing St. Hubert 61-34 to elim­in­ate an equally deep Bam­bies’ team.

“We have to com­pete, which we did not do on the last day of the sea­son,” said Hartzell, a former Wood as­sist­ant. “Our kids play AAU bas­ket­ball to­geth­er, and we’re very fa­mil­i­ar with each oth­er. We know we have to play ex­tremely well for four quar­ters to give ourselves a chance.”

Ry­an will need to do a laun­dry list of things right to sack Wood, but Hartzell says the team is up to the chal­lenge. The reign­ing state champs boast an ar­sen­al of depth in their own right; they’re tall, can shoot from the out­side, get to the rim with re­l­at­ive ease and de­fend bet­ter than any team in the league, as the 18 points Ry­an scored against the Lady Vik­ings in­dic­ates.

“We have to guard, we have to re­bound and, more than any­thing else, we have to score,” Hartzell said. “They’ll def­in­itely key on Kalene and make things dif­fi­cult for her to get go­ing.”

One of the best things about hav­ing a team with so many seni­ors is that at this time of year, they see that the end in sight. Now, every game is po­ten­tially their last one, and Hartzell can see it in their eyes that this group isn’t ready to break apart just yet.

“It was ob­vi­ous last night that the seni­ors didn’t want that one to be their last,” Hartzell said. “If we don’t be­lieve we can beat Wood on Thursday night, then we’ve already lost. Get­ting them to be­lieve they can do it is the first step we’ll take this week in prac­tice. Our seni­ors have been great lead­ers and it will be up to them to lead us head­ing in­to Thursday.

“We just want to give ourselves a chance. That’s all I can ask.” ••End­Frag­ment 

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