INDIANA - As the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic girls basketball players filed out of their locker room at Indiana Area High School, many of them wore a somber, stunned look. Only after a few minutes did the tears began to pour out from mainstays like Elyssa Ehredt and Kayla Bates.
"I just wish," Bates said, "we could have done a little bit more."
This eight-member senior class of Lady Marauders had one of the most successful runs an area rich in girls basketball tradition has ever witnessed. They won four District 6 Class A championships, three Laurel Highlands Conference crowns, went to two state finals and brought home the gold trophy once.
BG’s Halee Adams is guarded by Vincentian’s Torrieonna Cash.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
However, for all of their 110 wins, it was their eighth and final loss as a team the best defined this team, as it made an incredible comeback from 14 points down in the second half to take a one-point lead before finally running out of steam and succumbing to WPIAL champion Vincentian, 45-40, on Tuesday evening.
"I never quit believing in our basketball team, and I think a lot of people got to see [the reason for] that tonight," Lady Marauders coach Mark Moschella said. "Win or lose the basketball game, it certainly wasn't for a lack of heart or a lack of effort, a lack of just wanting to win for each other. All of those things existed, and that's why we made the comeback."
"They're devastated. I just said to them, 'Look, I'm not even going to talk about the basketball game. You guys were on the state championship floor two times in your career. You won four district championships, Laurel Highlands, tournaments and everything else. Just to measure it on getting to Hershey, it wouldn't be fair."
Explaining that to a bunch of 17-and-18-year-olds who came up just short in their final game was one thing. Getting them to totally buy it was another.
A big reason this group had so much success was because it was driven hard to succeed. It set goals that were unreasonably high and met them in their first two years. Then it spent the last two years trying to get back there. But the Lady Marauders - with star Halee Adams returning from knee surgery at midseason - were eliminated by Fort Cherry last season before being knocked out one game too soon by Vincentian this year.
Bates said getting further than all but two Class A teams was unsatisfying.
"At the beginning of the season, we set a goal to win a state championship. Every game leads up to that, so falling one game short really hurts," Bates said. "I remember my freshman year. We made it to the state championship, and I think we won by 20. We really had the dream team. Coming back from that ever since is difficult. When you're a senior and that leader, it makes it that much more difficult. But we tried."
The Lady Marauders' tower of power during this run, Adams, had makeup uncharacteristically smeared across her cheeks.
"It hasn't sunk in yet that I'm not going to play with some of my best friends again. That's pretty much it," Adams said.
Adams will graduate from Bishop Guilfoyle as one of its most prolific performers ever. She scored her 1,000th point in her sophomore season and became the first 10th grader to win the Mirror's girls basketball player of the year award after leading a Lady Marauder team with three of her classmates in the starting lineup to the state finals.
"It's a huge disappointment," Adams said of not getting back to the championship game. "I feel like our team has overcome so many obstacles the last couple of years that we deserved to get there. It just wasn't meant to be."
Adams and Elyssa Ehredt left four years as starters behind them. Bates and Devin Stessney started for three.
"It was pretty bad," Ehredt said of the locker room atmosphere after the game. "We were really upset that we lost, but it was such an awesome team that we were together, and it's so sad that we're not going to be playing together anymore."
Brittany Boslet joined the four three-or-more-year starters in the starting five as a senior. Alexis Craig, Kristen Miller and Lexi Luciano rounded out the Lady Marauders Class of 2013.
Obviously, it was a group with a great deal of talent. Adams is heading to Siena and Bates to Mount St. Mary's on Division I scholarships. Most of the other seniors probably will play college ball somewhere.
However, the rare chemistry of this team made the whole greater than the sum of its parts, and, according to the players, made the times together off the court possibly more memorable than all those wins and titles.
"Everytime we were together, we'd have fun," Ehredt said. "We'd go out. We'd have sleep-overs. I'm not going to be able to be without them."
So they went out one last time, maybe one game too soon, but they went out putting up a huge fight, and they went out together.
"I really hoped we could pull through," Bates said. "But I'm really proud of everyone. I'm really proud of the season."
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