Saint E's Girls Win Section Basketball Title
A first for the Lancers since 1983.
"The last 28 seasons of varsity girls basketball at Saint Elizabeth Elementary School have seen some very good teams come and go," said Rob Fitzgerald, the head coach of the Lady Lancers, "but none have produced section titles—until now."
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, located off of Route 51 in Baldwin Borough, is the newest varsity girls basketball champion of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh's South 2A Section thanks to its 37-30 win over Scott Township's Our Lady of Grace Parish on Feb. 12.
Saint E's finished the 2011-12 regular season with a 9-1 section record, just ahead of Our Lady of Grace's 8-2.
The Lancers beat the Tigers in style on Feb. 12, jumping out to a 9-0 start in front of a big crowd at the Saint E's gymnasium and never trailing en route to earning the section crown.
Guard Sarah Hacke, a seventh-grader, led the Lancers with a game-high 16 points, while teammate and eighth-grade guard Megan Fitzgerald contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Lancers' Mackenzie Voelker, an eighth-grade center, led all players with 12 rebounds, while teammate Katie Birch, a seventh-grade forward, added nine rebounds and an impressive seven steals.
Saint Elizabeth's finished the regular season with a 17-6 overall record and will open the 2012 varsity Class A playoffs at home against St. John the Baptist School, of Monaca Borough, on Friday, Feb. 24, at 7:45 p.m. St. John's varsity girls finished third in the Pittsburgh Diocese's Beaver Valley Section with a 6-3 record.
Megan, Mackenzie, and eighth-grade forward Jacquelyn O'Brien have provided leadership for the Lancers all season, Coach Fitzgerald said, typically pacing Saint E's in scoring and rebounding every game.
Sarah and Katie are the team's other regular starters and have been averaging a combined 12 points and eight rebounds per game for the Lancers over the past month.
Guard Liz Remlinger and forward Allison Fitzgerald—both seventh-graders—lead the team's bench players in scoring and minutes played this season. Eighth-grade guard Robyn Ruggier, seventh-grade guard/forward Julia Kelly and seventh-grade guard Hannah Bridge have also provided significant contributions off of the bench.
This season's Lancers have been playing together since the fourth and fifth grade, Coach Fitzgerald said.
The diocese moved the Saint E's ladies to the South 2A Section this season from the South 1A Section. South 1A includes the defending diocese and state champions from St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School, of Whitehall Borough. And while that might seem like only a positive for Saint E's, Coach Fitzgerald says otherwise.
"Actually, we were a little disappointed to lose the rivalry with them (Gabe's) and Saint Thomas More(, of Bethel Park,) during the regular season," he said in reference to two nearby schools that remain in South 1A.
St. Gabe's defeated Saint Thomas More, 51-37, in a one-game tiebreaker on Feb. 15 to win the South 1A title, giving the Baldwin-Whitehall area both of the diocese's southern section Class A championships.
"Gabe's had an incredible run the past 3-4 years," Coach Fitzgerald said. "However, this particular class of (Saint E's) girls has always played them (Gabe's) evenly—beating them in fifth grade and playing them evenly as a jayvee team.
" ... Gabe's is on the other side of the playoff bracket from us (this year), but we hope we get the chance to renew the rivalry in the diocesan final."
(Thank you to Coach Fitzgerald for his contributions to this report. Michelle Voelker is the team's assistant coach.)
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