Storybook season for Freedom girls basketball

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Mary White Photography

The girls basketball team poses for a team photo on March 26, at the PIAA AAA Girls Basketball State Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.

Leannah Messenger, Managing Editor

The girls basketball team made history this year by making it to the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) championships, and then the Pennsylvania State Playoffs. They finished their regular season with a winning record of 16-4 and were third overall in their section. From there, they advanced to the WPIAL championships which were on March 3, at the Petersen Events Center on the Pitt campus. There the girls played against North Catholic, and after a strenuous game for both teams, North Catholic won 47-43. The Freedom team still automatically made it to the State Championship tournament and they began to play each game on the “Road to Hershey,” or State Finals. 

“I think that this year of basketball has been an unforgettable experience. Getting the chance to go to the WPIAL finals was something that none of us expected and were extremely proud of accomplishing. Even the fact that we were winning each state game was amazing and a surreal feeling,” senior Renae Mohrbacher said. 

Their first game for states was the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Girls Basketball AAA quarterfinals on March 15, against River Valley at Norwin Senior High School. Here Freedom won bya score of 57-50, taking them to the Final Four, where they played against North Catholic for the final time. The game was held on March 19 at North Hills High School. Over the course of the season’s games, the Freedom community had come to support the team in any way possible. 

“I think personally that the support of the community has been something that made the entire experience that much more special. The fact that we were able to bring our community together for something has been an amazing feeling,” senior Renae Mohrbacher said. 

The Freedom stands were packed for the Final Four game, and the spectators were ready for a noteworthy matchup. In the first half of the game, the teams were head to head and North Catholic was taking the lead; and still, they held the lead by the third quarter. However, Freedom bounced back and tied up the game, and into the fourth quarter, they continued to rack up points. With the crowd cheering alongside them, Freedom won triumphantly 46-39, taking them to the PIAA State Finals. 

Freedom faced the Neuman Goretti Saints at the State Finals at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa on March 26. Freedom took the lead in the first quarter with 14-11 against the Saints, Renae Mohrbacher holding the majority of the points for the team. After an intense quarter of major shots all around, Freedom was down by oneat halftime as the score was 22-21. Into the third quarter, the Saints still held the lead by a close score of 38-34. Both teams played a great game in the fourth quarter, however, Freedom wasn’t able to get the points they needed to combat the Saints. With the Saints up 49-43 and one minute remaining, sophomore Shaye Bailey fouled out. Bailey’s 21 points led Freedom in scoring. 

“Being a sophomore and having only two seasons left ahead of me, I just want to make the most of every moment, because on any given day you never know what could happen,” Bailey said.

In the end, the Neuman Goretti Saints won the state championship title by a score of 55-49. Ultimately, the 2021-2022 girls basketball team made it farther than any other girls basketball team in Freedom history, finishing the season as the PIAA Class 3A runner-up. Freedom had a season for the books, with every player on the team making a difference. The girls can’t wait for what they hope to accomplish for next season and the rest of the seasons yet to come. 

 “As a senior, my advice would be don’t take this for granted, it does fly by like everyone says. Enjoy every minute of it and push yourself. Keep Coach John [Kaercher] dancing,” senior Cadence Gorajewski said.