The Archbishop Wood High School girls basketball team has had a strong year.
Not only did the Vikings advance to the Catholic League championship game before falling in a close game to Cardinal O’Hara, but they won the District 12 Class AAAAA title and advanced to the state playoffs.
To make it that far, the team needs superstars.
It also needs players who make sure the superstars are prepared.
That’s where Shannon Kelly comes in.
Kelly is a senior guard, and when she’s on the court, she’s responsible for doing all the little things that add up to big things like championship game appearances and 20-win seasons.
And when she’s not on the court, well, she’s doing the little things that help teams win.
“I don’t play a lot of minutes, so when I’m on the bench, I’m watching, cheering and getting ready to play,” the Fox Chase resident said. “I would like to play more. It’s not about who starts, it’s about who helps the team, and I try to help the team any way I can.
“I try to push the girls as hard as I can in practice because you get better in practice. We work hard in practice and the girls who aren’t starters have to work hard because that’s how the starters get better, by playing against us.”
On Saturday, the Vikings defeated West Chester Henderson 32-23 in a first-round game. The Vikings will meet Bishop Shanahan in a second-round affair on Wednesday.
Kelly has been a member of the Wood program since she transferred in as a sophomore. She made the move from Calvary Christian to Wood on the advice of fellow senior Viking Cassie Sebold.
It is one she’s glad she made.
“I was excited when I came here because I knew they had a good basketball team and I was happy I was going to play with my friends,” Kelly said. “We won the district championship all three years, and had great teams every year. It’s been really good.”
Growing up, Kelly always played basketball, but for the most part it wasn’t her true passion. In fact, she didn’t dedicate her life to the sport until she was in high school.
“I didn’t play seriously until I got to high school,” said Kelly, who plays for Fencor’s AAU squad. “When I got older, I started liking it more. When I got to Wood, I started taking it very seriously. It’s fun because we’ve been winning.”
Kelly has been winning in other ways.
She’s a member of Athletes Helping Athletes, where players team up with special-needs athletes to form a winning combination.
Kelly gets as much out of the program as her sidekicks.
“We do things like shoot around, and once a year we have a two-hour session with them,” Kelly said. “It’s a lot of fun. They seem to have a good time, and we have a good time.
“It’s something the whole team loves. It’s good to help out, but we’re having fun while we’re doing it.”
When she’s not dishing out assists on the basketball court, she’s making sure weddings go smoothly at the Knowlton Mansion.
“It’s a job, weddings are a lot of running around, we do a little bit of everything,” said Kelly, who doesn’t work during basketball season. “We cater events, mostly weddings and things like that. They’re fun to work. But we’re always running when we’re doing them.”
Next year, she’ll continue running when she attends Immaculata, where she’ll continue her basketball career.
She won’t be alone. Her older brother is there and he enjoys it, and from everything she’s experienced, Kelly loves it, too.
“I visited and loved it and then I had an overnight and I loved it,” Kelly said. “When I went there, I liked it. I liked the basketball team. It just felt right when I was there, I liked everything about it, and the coach was very nice.”
Kelly is unsure about what she’ll major in, but there’s a possibility she’ll follow in her brother’s footsteps and take up criminal justice.
That occupation runs in the family. Her father is a police officer.
But she’ll also continue to learn about basketball.
“I think I would like (coaching),” Kelly said. “You learn a lot while playing. I learn a lot when I’m watching, when I’m not playing. When you’re not playing, it’s very important to watch because you can learn things. And coaches have to help their players. That would be something I would have fun doing.” ••
Joe Mason can be reached at 215-354-3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org