Wood girls miss out on another title

Posted: March 25, 2014

HERSHEY - Archbishop Wood coach John Gallagher gave his team a speech before their first game on Dec. 15. It was his first year as head coach, but he could see where the season was going. He told them about the quality of people sitting in the room with him at that very moment. He told them the basketball season was a marathon, not a sprint, and they would have to climb the proverbial ladder.

"I said that speech on December 15th because I thought I was going to be here tonight," Gallagher said Saturday night after the PIAA Class AAA championship game. "Not because I'm cocky or arrogant, but because I knew I was surrounded by really good people."

"We did believe him," senior Laura Trisch said. "He divided the year up into thirds, and we would take it one step at a time. We all bought into it and we decided that it was going to be a marathon."

The end of the marathon came with the team playing for for a championship in the Giant Center in Hershey. Gallagher's vision was a reality, but did not have the fairy tale ending he had hoped.

Instead of hoisting their third AAA championship trophy in 4 years, Gallagher was crouched down in the back tunnel, hands on his head, thinking of what could have been after the 51-43 loss to Blackhawk High School.

Despite the crushing defeat that left the team in tears, Gallagher is still proud of their season. They ended the year 26-4, with two of those losses coming to Catholic League champion Neumann-Goretti.

Wood had a chance at that championship as well, but couldn't close it out. For a team that has had so much success in recent years, being runner-up is no consolation. Coming so close at the Palestra, losing by nine in the Catholic League championship, and then by eight in the state championship leaves a sour taste in their mouths, but they know just how hard it is to get to that level in the first place.

"It's extremely disappointing," Gallagher said of losing. "At the same time, it is really hard to get to this point. I told the girls inside, there are no hollow victories. We wanted to win that game. There are teams that get here and are happy. We're Archbishop Wood. We are not happy when we lose the Catholic League or lose the state championship."

The team was led by nine seniors this year, including captains Trisch, Rachel Day and Jess Kaminski. Trisch had the best day of the three, scoring five points. The bonds formed and strengthened among their team will take away the sting of the loss in Hershey.

"We joke about it because we talk about it all the time, but it is the truth," Trisch said. "We are best friends. We spend time with each other outside of basketball. All we want to do is be around each other, and it is hard when we can't win for each other."

The seniors are a part of what has made Archbishop Wood girls' basketball so successful in the past few years. A team can have all the talent in the world, but it is character that brings everything together, which is exactly what happened at Wood.

"They are getting a lot of attention from the media, and they should because they are a special group," Gallagher said. "You couldn't get finer people. It's hereditary at the Wood program. That sounds like bragging and I don't care because we really have good people. What happened out there today doesn't change any of these people."

Five of the Wood seniors have signed letters of intent to play college basketball at some level. Their basketball careers are certainly not over, but their days at Wood are numbered. They will remember Blackhawk raising the trophy in Hershey, but they also will remember all of the good times they had together.

"It's been the best 4 years of my life," Trisch said.

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