Kapp beats the buzzer to win the game
(Photo Left) Boyertown girls basketball team poses for a photo and celebrates after their state championship win. Photo courtesy of Jason Bieber.
Boyertown was a long shot to win a PIAA girls’ 6A basketball championships. But the Bears (27-5) ended up bringing home gold despite having been the sixth seeded team from District 1.
Boyertown defeated North Allegheny 47-35, March 24 in Hershey, after having knocked off favored Cardinal O’Hara 39-37, March 20, on an Abby Kapp last second shot in the semifinals. “This is a huge accomplishment for the basketball team and community,” said coach Jason Bieber. “It is great to see a community of well-deserving young women be this successful.” Coupled with the Reading boys’ first ever state title on March 25, Berks County stole both championships in 6A. “It’s great to see our area have this success in basketball. The key to all of this was Abby’s shot against Cardinal O’Hara. That was a moment that will be remembered forever.”
Many thought Cardinal O’Hara would win it all after Mary Sheehan, Marla Hendrixson, Hannah Nihill and their teammates beat Archbishop Wood at the Palestra, to win the girls’ Catholic League championship. O’Hara had also beat favored Neumann-Goretti in the league playoffs and made it to the final four in 6A, before Boyertown shocked the Lions. “My coach told me to shoot the ball and tried to run an isolation for me,” said Bucknell recruit Kapp of the game-winner versus O’Hara. “I somehow got to the foul line, had two hands in my face and threw in sort of a desperation shot. I think we got a lot of confidence heading into the title game from that. I think what our championship says is that how tough a group of girls we are. No one thought we could do this.” As for the shot? “It’s a great moment, one I will never forget. I don’t think my family will ever let me forget, either. People say it may be the biggest shot I ever made.” Kapp said that after an early season exit from the district playoffs in ninth grade, her and Alli Marcus talked on the bus ride home that they could win a state championship one day. “It’s kind of funny,” she said. “Three years later, we actually did it and were talking about it on the bus ride home from Hershey.”
Not as surprising was that Archbishop Wood rebounded in the 5A girls state playoffs to also win states on March 25. It is the second straight year that Wood has won it all. Coach Mike McDonald scheduled a brutal non-league calendar that ended up helping the team win the 5A title. “All of our losses were to national opponents,” he said. “It had to be one of the toughest schedules in the country and it prepared us for post-season success.” Despite losing many key cogs on last year’s team, the coach was quick to cite what aided five wins in states. “It was a much tougher season for us to find points, but our defense gave teams fits. We lost to nationally-ranked Mater Dei (CA) by two points but held them to 31 points. We had many games like that. For example, we held O’Hara [in the regular season] to 20 points and Neumann-Goretti to 39. But the greatest memory for me was seeing my seniors’ faces when they were hosting another state title. It’s very special.”